Today the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDPP) observance takes place around the world, as an initiative of the World Council of Churches. On Earth Peace is holding its annual IDPP campaign this year with the goal of involving 200 congregations and groups on the theme, “Seek the Peace of the City.”
On Earth Peace reported that as of Monday, 110 congregations and community groups had registered an event at www.onearthpeace.org . There were 21 US states and 10 countries represented on the list. Organizers were affiliated with at least 11 different denominations or religious traditions. The agency also reported that the National Council of Churches will mark the day during meetings this week in New York City.
“Please let us know if you are observing IDPP in your worship service by sending us a quick note at firstname.lastname@example.org !” On Earth Peace invited.
On Earth Peace is encouraging congregations to consider how youth can lead observances, and how to support youth as leaders for peace in their communities. Suggestions have included presenting a children’s message on peacemaking, focusing on specific acts of violence children may encounter and their role to stop violence, and working with small groups to name specific acts of violence in a community and around the world, following up with prayer for victims, perpetrators, and those working for peace in named situations.
The Church of the Brethren’s advocacy and peace witness office will share regular IDPP updates today at several places online: http://twitter.com/#!/cob_peace , www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=123295755551&ref=ts , and http://blog.brethren.org .
Here is a sampling of Brethren congregations and districts, and Brethren-related groups, taking part in today’s observance:
— This morning the staff at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., met for a chapel service on peace.
— Timbercrest Community in North Manchester, Ind., is holding a Peace Day observance in its chapel from 3-4 p.m.
— Heeding God’s Call, the Philadelphia-based initiative against gun violence, holds a vigil at 4 p.m. today at the site of one of almost 200 Philadelphia gun deaths this year–1600 Catharine St. A procession will then take participants to Dilworth Plaza, carrying t-shirts symbolizing each life lost to guns this year. At the plaza a public witness and prayer begins at 5:15. (For more information contact Heeding God’s Call at 267-519-5302.)
— The Heeding God’s Call Harrisburg (Pa.) Chapter holds a Prayer Vigil in uptown Harrisburg beginning at 5:30 p.m., in an announcement shared by Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren pastor Belita Mitchell.
— The Church of the Brethren’s Virlina District held its first IDPP event this past Sunday at Lighthouse Church of the Brethren in Boones Mill, Va. An additional district peace service will be this evening at 6 p.m., sponsored by West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren.
— An event at 7 p.m. at Cedar Lake Church of the Brethren in rural Auburn, Ind., will include prayers for peace interspersed with media clips that speak to several levels of peacemaking including inner peace, forgiveness, and courageous leadership.
— York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren opens its chapel today for those wishing to pray for peace. “Prayers can be offered for non-violence in many areas,” said an invitation from the Witness Commission. “Prayers for healing between individuals, in families, in cities, and between nations is being stressed.”
— A community worship service hosted by Lafayette (Ind.) Church of the Brethren will gather around the congregation’s Peace Pole.
— A Peace Walk in Bridgewater, Va., is being publicized by Shenandoah District. It starts at Bridgewater United Methodist Church at 7:30 p.m. Each walker is to bring a candle. Donations will be accepted for “Invisible Child of Uganda,” a program that rescues children who have been recruited or abducted into military service. Contact Roma Jo Thompson at 540-515-3581.
— A public lecture by Jeffrey Helsing of the US Institute of Peace, sponsored by the Mahatma Gandhi Center, is being publicized with help from Shenandoah District. Preceding the 7 p.m. lecture at the Lucy F. Simms Center in Harrisonburg, Va., a dinner and peace pole dedication is planned. The event closes with a candlelight vigil. Contact LaDawn Knicely of the Gandhi Center board at 540-421-6941 or LaDawn@LaDawnSellsHome.com.
— “10 Days of Prayer for Peace” in Richmond, Ind., has been sponsored by the interfaith group Children of Abraham, with participation from Brethren in the area. The observance began on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and concludes today. Amy Gall Ritchie reported on Facebook that Bethany Theological Seminary participated as vigil No. 8 in the series of 10 citywide vigils from Sept 12-21. “We prayed inside then went outside and stood along US 40 as it drizzled, holding our candles, praying for peace.”