Sept. 21 is the International Day of Prayer for Peace–and it’s not too late to participate! On Earth Peace is inviting all churches and community groups to use this day to lift up a message of peace and ceasefire in whatever ways make sense in your community, including shortly before or after the 21st itself. Register at http://prayingforceasefire.tumblr.com/signup .
Currently 145 communities have signed up, including participants in Australia, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, the Philippines, Thailand, and the US. Participating groups report a number of religious affiliations, including Church of the Brethren, American Baptist, Presbyterian, Christian Council of Nigeria (Methodist), Disciples of Christ, Dominican Sisters of Peace, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Pax Christi, Quaker, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Uniting Church (Australia), United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, and United Methodist.
Here is a sampling of plans reported so far:
Quinter (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is planning prayers around a peace pole.
Midland (Mich.) Church of the Brethren is holding a “Fortress of Peace” children’s Bible school and children’s mural project, and a “Grandma’s Silence” prayer time in which grandmothers in the neighborhood pause in prayer.
Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren is participating in a community forum on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” handgun law, and public prayers for peace in a park with a sermon on how to respond to violence.
In Portland, Ore., the Wilderness Way Community (Lutheran-ELCA) is hosting a webinar viewing and prayer meeting around the theme, “Restorative Justice and Historical Violation,” with biblical scholar Ched Myers and mediator Elaine Enns.
In Oyo State, Nigeria, Churches in Action for Peace and Development is organizing an interdenominational service at Wesley Chapel to pray for peace and ceasefire. Expected participants include seminarians from Immanuel College of Theology-Ibadan and Christian Council of Nigeria (Methodist).
Code Pink and the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones are organizing a Sept. 21-28 peace delegation to Waziristan, Pakistan, an area hard hit by predator drone attacks. They announced via a press release that they will “meet with survivors of US drone attacks, lawyers who are representing drone victims, and political figures. As citizen diplomats from the United States, we will join with people from the region affected by US drone attacks, and call for an end to the killing.” Their 50-person delegation includes many people involved in religious communities.
Interfaith prayer services organized by Brethren individuals working with community coalitions are happening in Dayton, Ohio; San Diego, Calif.; Manassas, Va.; Sharpsburg, Md.; and South Bend, Ind.
As one illustration, Ed Poling writes: “Our church, the Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren, for the last several years has been celebrating International Day of Prayer for Peace with the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County, which I coordinate. This year our event will be on Sunday evening, Sept. 23, 5 p.m., at the Dunker Meetinghouse on the Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Md. We’re calling it our Song and Prayer Peace Fest. We’ll have 18-20 different religious traditions each share a brief statement on peace, a prayer for peace, and a peace song. Besides a number of Protestant denominations, including all the historic peace churches, we plan to involve Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Baha’i, Sufi, Unity, Adventists, Metropolitan Community, Hispanic, and Unitarian/Universalists. During this week the community is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day single-day battle of the Civil War, with over 23,000 casualties. So we have the present-day violence to ponder as well as memories of war from the past. A great place to pray for peace in our homes, our communities, the nation, and the world.”
To see a full list of participants in Peace Day, go to http://prayingforceasefire.tumblr.com/events . For event plans that have been reported so far, see http://prayingforceasefire.tumblr.com/tagged/local-event-plans . More information and registration for Peace Day is at www.prayingforceasefire.tumblr.com .
— Matt Guynn is coordinator of Peace Witness for On Earth Peace.