On Earth Peace
PO Box 188
New Windsor, MD 21776-0188
170 Communities Pray for Ceasefire
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2012
NEW WINDSOR, MD, USA—Over 170 congregations and community groups in 15 countries and 26 U.S. states have partnered with the Christian-rooted agency On Earth Peace to organize prayer events for the week surrounding September 21, 2012. These groups join thousands around the world marking Peace Day, September 21, which is recognized each year as the World Council of Churches’ International Day of Prayer for Peace and the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. Campaign participants represent more than 15 denominations or traditions. A complete list of registered groups can be found here. This is On Earth Peace’s sixth annual campaign to invite congregations and community groups to participate in the International Day of Prayer for Peace.
On Earth Peace’s 2012 theme for Peace Day is “Praying for Ceasefire.” The locally identified focus of specific events includes many faces of violence: gun violence, bullying, domestic violence, war, and hatred based on religious belief, among others. Many local event plans can be found on the campaign website (here). On Earth Peace’s 2012 campaign for Peace Day is co-sponsored by the United Church of Christ‘s Office of Justice & Witness Ministries and the Fellowship of Reconciliation (USA), and is in association with the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
Many communities are using Peace Day to connect people from various religious perspectives and cultural backgrounds. The Interfaith Coalition of Washington County, Pennsylvania, is hosting a gathering including participants from nearly 20 different religious traditions, including Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Baha’i, Sufi, Roman Catholics and a number of Christian Protestant denominations, on the Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland. This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single-day battle of the U.S. Civil War. The commemoration of that event provides a backdrop for prayer and discussion around present-day violence in local communities and the world.
Other groups are using Peace Day to address community violence. In Miami, Florida, USA, the Miami First Church of the Brethren hosted a community forum to discuss Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” handgun law. The recent homicide of local teenager Trayvon Martin brought this controversial law to the forefront in the community and across the country. The forum will provide background information on the law, as well as an opportunity to discuss changes that could be made, while seeking common values.
Thandi Gumbi of Breakthru Community Action and Breakthru Church International (Pietermaritzburg, KwazuluNatal, South Africa) reports that there will be “prayers for ceasefire in Afghanistan, which we’ve been praying about for the past twenty years. BCA’s Kids Klub will also be praying this coming Friday and the lessons will be on Peace. We will also be visiting homes in the neighbourhood spreading the message of Nonviolence.” BCA is also reaching out to participants in their Peaceful Community Change workshops, inviting them to participate in prayers on Peace Day.
The All Manipur Christian Organisation (AMCO), organizers of a September 21 event in Imphal, Manipur, India, wrote, “We need peace in Manipur, and seek the support and prayers of friends around the world. We will continue to pray and work for peace in Manipur and in conflict areas across the world, where peace is most needed.”
Additional events include:
Three congregations in Auburn, Indiana, will send out groups into the community to pray for each house, business, church and person they encounter.
A congregation in Colorado near the sites of two shootings – Columbine and the recent movie theatre massacre – has erected 15 identical crosses in a park, one for each victim in the shootings at Columbine High, including the two shooters.
In Ohio, the Dayton International Peace Museum will celebrate 21 September by burning the mortgage it has recently paid off and discussing how to bring “inner peace and outer peace to neighbours and ourselves, our community, and our world”. Christians, Muslims, Baha’is, Buddhists, Jews and Sikhs will take part.
In Manassas, Virginia, Unity in the Community is organizing a community interfaith prayer service hosted by First African Methodist Episcopal Church, to seek what the organizers call “divine guidance in the face of international hostility, political confrontation, local intolerance, domestic abuse, teenage bullying and personal struggle”.
A consortium of 300 congregations and faith-based organizations in South Bend, Indiana, will host a community breakfast and a lunch-hour community prayer meeting at the local Sikh temple.
“I have signed up to pray for peace in Calgary but I do not see any formal plans,” one electronic message says. “I am only one, but I will pray and God will hear me.”
Campaign coordinator Matt Guynn shares, “It may seem like a minor thing to pray for peace one day a year, but this one day is a small opening for God’s subversive dreams of peace and wholeness. God can enter through the doorway that we provide with these events surrounding September 21. This day can be a time to yearn to become strong partisans of peace and advocates of reconciliation. The Christian tradition often implicitly or explicitly blesses war and violence, and too often falls short of interrupting the hardening of hearts that leads to divisiveness and hurt. Peace Day can be an entry point and a starting place for any community to move away from violence and towards just peace.”
On Earth Peace is a peace agency rooted in the Church of the Brethren and working with all those interested in Christian peacemaking, challenging violence, and building reconciliation. More information is online atwww.onearthpeace.org. The Church of the Brethren is an Anabaptist denomination with its central offices in Elgin, Ill., USA. It is an historic peace church with a strong commitment to service and relationship. The Church of the Brethren is conscientiously opposed to all war, and intentional about working with peacemaking and reconciliation concerns. More information online here: www.brethren.org.
ADDITIONAL INFO MAY BE FOUND AT THESE
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On Earth Peace’s Peace Day site: