128 Communities Pray for Peace (List of Participants)
During the week of September 21, 2011, 128 grassroots groups around the world marked the seventh observance of the World Council of Churches’ International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDPP), which coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. Congregations and community groups in twenty-one U.S. states and ten countries partnered with On Earth Peace to create community prayer events during the week surrounding IDPP 2011. This year marked On Earth Peace’s fifth annual campaign to invite communities around the world to participate in the International Day of Prayer for Peace.
An initiative of the United Nations and the World Council of Churches, the International Day of Prayer for Peace is a time when the guns, armies and militias go silent as 24-hr ceasefires are observed around the world, and when people and grassroots groups join in celebration, prayer and speaking out about their hopes for a more peaceful world.
On Earth Peace provided liturgical and organizing resources on its website, and actively organized grassroots partners both within its historical Church of the Brethren base and ecumenical partners. At least 30 events were organized by youth and young adult leaders.
On Earth Peace program director Matt Guynn reported, “We have seen local IDPP events become a time for community and faith groups to generate energy and spiritual power to address the real problems people face. Martin Luther King, Jr., talked about the triple evils of poverty, racism, and militarism. Around the world, people of conscience are stepping up to catalyze new responses to these and many other faces of violence. It’s our prayer that IDPP events will help build new possibilities in each participating community.”
Local organizers who connected with On Earth Peace in 2011 were affiliated with at least eleven different denominations or religious traditions, including the Church of the Brethren in the USA and the Democratic Republic of Congo, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches UK, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of both America and Denmark. The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA also marked the day as part of its assembly meetings in New York City.
Here is a sample of IDPP reports from local activities around the world!
BROOKLYN, NY, USA
Local Contact: Doris Abdullah
Brooklyn First Church of the Brethren’s young adults and youth team were the leaders for a Vigil held on September 21. Here, high school student José Hernandez reads the peace scriptures taken from Galatians 1:3-5 & 5:22-23, Mark 4:35-30, Matthew 5:9 and Psalms 34:14-16.
EAST PALO ALTO, CA, USA
Local Contact: Brenda Berys
Our focus was on the community of East Palo Alto, a city that has been conflicted with years of gang violence, homicides, and poverty. Yet it is also a heavily faith based community, with over 50 churches in a 2x2 sq mile radius. Our main focus for IDPP was to gather people of the community in unison to pray over their city, bring peace to their streets, and support each other in this time on need. How many and what groups were represented? We had a wonderful turn out of about 100 people. The City of East Palo Alto Chief of Police Ron Davis and Lieutenant Rocha were amongst the many pastors, such as Pastor Bains of Project WeHope, Pastor Gamma (prayed in Spanish for the Spanish attendees) , Pastor John Harrison, Pastor Helen Brown, and Pastor Braxton. Groups that attended are The 1-800-JesusChrist Project, Mothers to Prevent Violence, Mothers Against Murder, and Lauren’s House for Positive Change.
Lorrain Taylor of Mothers to Prevent Violence told her personal story of when she lost her twin teenage boys in shootings on separate days but within the same week. Almost everybody in the crowd was in tears, she then continued to sing a song she wrote, called “Take A Stand”. She has an incredible voice. As a follow up, I can imagine sending out workbooks or information to the community for the parents and children to read up on, or find ways to gather them and show them videos and have special speakers. Also, we asked the participants to call in their prayer requests in advance to 1-800-JesusChrist (1-800-537-8724), which a few did as they were unable to attend the event. We played their calls over the loud speaker for all to hear. This allowed their voices to be heard by others, and their prayers to be prayed over by many. This is something I believe we can do for other communities for next year.
GETTYSBURG, PA, USA
Local Contact: Mary Kay Turner
Gettysburg Church of the Brethren and Bethel Mennonite Church, located about 2 miles north, together planned and presented a Prayer for Peace service for IDPP highlighting the four areas from the DOV concluding conference paper and adding personal peace.
HARRISBURG, PA, USA
Local Contact: Joy Reardon
About 50 people attended the “Heeding God’s Call” service to commemorate the International Day of Prayer for Peace, focused on how gun violence has hit Harrisburg in the heart. Click here for news story and photos.
LAFAYETTE, IN, USA
Local Contact: Ginny Mason
The IDPP service was planned for 7 pm on Wednesday, September 21 at our meeting house. Members were encouraged to come early so we might stand outside (near our Peace Pole and garden) and provide a peace witness to those driving and walking by on the busy street. Of course we hoped we might gain some additional participants for the service too.
In one of the photos you’ll see various members of the congregation standing along the street (18th Street) holding large fluorescent cardboard squares that spell out “PRAY FOR PEACE” and another poster board with information about the service. We stood out there for about 30 min. as vehicles whizzed by, some folks honked their horns and waved, we heard some cheer, and even had a few raise their fingers in a peace sign (V) from an earlier time. All in all the response was positive. It was a lovely, sunny evening and we sang peace songs as we stood there together.
We went inside the church building for the actual service. As we sat in a circle around a simple worship center of a candle and some doves, we joined in the Call to Worship found in the COB materials provided for the event. During the time for reflection various people shared meaningful readings and talked about the ways we see violence and strife in our community, schools, and beyond. Discussion followed as we talked about how to deal with those issues as individuals and as a church family. The printed prayers guided us to remember in prayer all the different groups of people who face injustice, fear, violence, and other issues in their lives. After the last music and closing prayer we joined in making origami cranes. It was good to talk and laugh together before heading to our homes.
We look forward to participating in this event again next year and will continue to PRAY FOR PEACE and work for it as well.
LEWISHAM, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
Local Contact: John Philip Carter
From the United Kingdom, John Philip Carter of Lewisham Unitarian Meeting wrote, “Lewisham (a borough of London) experienced some of the rioting that happened a month ago. We hope with our event to bring together members of the community for a time to reflect on peace and to pray and commit ourselves to what we can do.”
MANASSAS, VA, USA
Local Contact: Illana Naylor
Unity in the Community, a group based in Manassas, Virginia, has organized a prayer event including religious leaders and traditions including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Native Americans, Unitarians, Wiccans and the various cultural traditions they represent. “We are enriched and blessed by many different faith expressions, and together we stand united for peace and justice in our community,” said event organizer Illana Naylor, founding member of Unity in the Community.
PIETERMARITZBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Group: Breakthru Community Action
Christine Lindell-Detweiler, Thandi Gumbi
Plans in advance: We have a group getting together with Thandi and I to start learning about nonviolence as well as learning about doing a listening initiative. Then we will be doing some planning for our IDPP event with this larger group. They represent a number of different communities so it will be interesting to see how it goes. Nonetheless we are excited. What happened: We had our meeting with a few Peacemakers yesterday, who went to homes in the neighborhood spreading the message of peace and praying with people. Four teams met with 80 people, it was awesome. We’ll give a full report on email. On Friday-23rd our Kids Klub is also walking the streets & visiting homes with placards! Other partners and churches working with us are yet to report how their events went! We are excited! Peace…!
PORTLAND, OR, USA
Group: Portland-area ELCA Congregations
Local Contact: Solveig Nilsen-Goodin
In Portland, Oregon, several area Lutheran congregations (ELCA) are building on strong anti-bullying resolutions passed this summer by the Oregon Synod and the ELCA National Assembly, by organizing an IDPP youth event focused on bullying. “’Love My Enemies?’ Finding Freedom from the Power of Bullying,” includes interactive presentations on responding to verbal, physical, and cyber-bullying, a segment on “How Jesus Responded to Bullying”, personal story sharing, and a forgiveness circle.
RICHMOND, INDIANA, USA
Local Contact: Matt McKimmy
In Richmond, Indiana, the interfaith group, Children of Abraham, which provides a forum for dialogue among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, organized “10 Days of Prayer for Peace” beginning on the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and concluding on the International Day of Prayer for Peace.
SAN DIEGO, CA, USA
Local Contact: Linda Williams
A group of Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian leaders in San Diego, CA, organized by the First San Diego Church of the Brethren, joined together for a prayer service titled “Interrupting Violence with Prayer,” responding to a growing number of police deaths in the line of duty, and walking together to the site where a police officer was recently shot.
SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR
Group: Colegio Bautista Emmanuel, Peacemakers Mediation Team
Local Contact: Sarah Hall
We held a school-wide devotional focusing on prayers for peace, organized by the school mediation team and coordinators. We formed big circles and 2 mediation team members prayed within each circle. We wrapped up with a prayer from the principal.
ST PETERSBURG, FL, USA
Local Contact: Phil Lersch
Group Name: St. Petersburg First Church of the Brethren
We used the IDPP Peace Litany in Worship Services and an Intersection Demonstration.
(1) Used Audrey DeCoursey’s IDPP Litany in Morning Worship at St. Pete Church of the Brethren on 9/18. (2) Several folks held “Pray For Peace” signs at intersection in front of our Church of the Brethren for 1 hour on 9/21. (3) Same Litany was hand delivered to 6 neighborhood churches, with 2 cover letters, early in September — with follow-up calls after event date — moderate usage. (4) Emailed IDPP Litany and other On Earth Peace IDPP resources to 175 Historic Peace Churches contacts in Florida. (5) Emailed DeCoursey’s Litany to our 450 Clergy and Laity contacts in the Brethren Church, encouraging its use on 9/18 in Morning Worship. Got one very positive response on the same day it was used from one of our larger churches, which used it in both services. Since then I’ve encouraged responses from other congregations about their usage.
URBANA, IL, USA
Group Name: Champaign - Urbana, IL IDPP
Local Contact: Sam Cox
We invited members of different faith groups in the Champaign-Urbana area to gather together to pray for peace, share stories and lift one another up. Mennonite, Brethren, Methodist, Baha’i, and Catholic Worker House were represented at the meeting. There were about 25 people altogether. One special moment was when Dawn Blackman of the Champaign Church of the Brethren shared some poems about peace written by children in an after school/summer program she heads up. I think some connections and introductions were made between people that can hopefully lead to greater future collaboration. Thank you for your support. We look forward to next year’s anniversary.
UVIRA, SOUTH KIVU PROVINCE, DR CONGO
Local Contact: Lubungo Abeleci Ron
The Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development of the Church of the Brethren – DR Congo organized an event in Uvira, South Kivu Province. “Our event focused on the relationship between different communities in dispute. 500 persons have participants from Muslim and Christian peace organizations; church leaders and pagan groups were also there. A special time was the talent evening, where people of different community in conflict have show us their culture’s dance of reconciliation. This event has helped more in the communication within the community and helped people forget their different dispute and share together.”