Sept. 21 is international Peace Day, and On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness are teaming up to invite congregations to plan Peace Day events on this year’s theme “Who Will You Make Peace With?”
“Jesus calls us and gives us what we need to make peace with friends, enemies, family members, within our congregations, and in the world around us,” said an invitation. “Who will you make peace with this September?”
Here are some creative examples of what congregations around the globe are planning:
— Pastor Ray Hileman of Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren says, “We are planning a witness walk from our meeting place to a nearby park and back to raise funds for On Earth Peace’s 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign on Saturday the 21st.
— Linda K Williams of First Church of the Brethren, San Diego, Calif., reported that the church will have a Peace Fair with multicultural entertainment, tabling by local groups, and children’s activities, followed by an interfaith vigil where religious leaders and participants from a number of faith groups will participate.
— South Central Indiana District holds its district conference on Sept. 21 at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind. The theme “Take Your Mat and Walk” (Mark 2:9), fits right in with plans for participants to walk a few steps for peace over the lunch hour, as part of the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign. “We will have the course ready and you can walk the number of feet you choose so that collectively we will have a District Conference total of at least 5280 feet (1 mile),” said the district newsletter announcement. “Come, add your prayers, your steps, your passion for a world at peace!”
— First Mennonite Church in Urbana, Ill., is planning to have a Salsa Party in cooperation with the mosque down the street–the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center. “People from our church and the mosque share tending a common garden and will use produce from the garden to make salsa together,” the church reports.
— West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren is planning to go to a nearby river and have a feetwashing ceremony.
— Lifelines Compassionate Global Initiatives, affiliated with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and led by an EYN church leader, is planning an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to fast, sing, and pray together or individually at home beginning on Sept. 19. Plans are yet to be finalized, but the hope is for three days of fasting and prayer to precede an interfaith gathering and visits by Peace Advocates to local churches and mosques to talk about peace. The Peace Advocates have benefited from interfaith peace skill training in preparation for the event, says the organizer.
— Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren is participating in a Unity in the Community International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sunday, Sept. 22. The interfaith gathering is 5-8 p.m. hosted by the Dar Alnoor Islamic Community Center, and will include a community potluck meal. Unity in the Community was established in 1995 through the efforts of Church of the Brethren members Illana Naylor Barrett and Fred Swartz, along with members of various faith congregations within the Manassas area, said the announcement. The purpose of the group is to combat racism, anti-semitism, and other forms of discrimination in the community.
— Centralia (Wash.) First United Methodist Church is planning a 3,000 Miles for Peace Fun-Run as well as a commemoration for the Decade for Nonviolence to Children at nearby Centralia College.
— Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren holds its 23rd annual 5K Run/Walk for Peace on Sept. 21, starting at 10 a.m., with a Kids’ Fun Run starting at 11:15. A family mini-fest will include food, face painting, a bounce house, and other children’s activities. Proceeds will benefit 3,000 Miles for Peace. Find out more at etowncob.org/runforpeace .
Other congregations are invited to do something similar to these plans, or come up with something unique to express peace in the community. “Whatever your congregation decides to do, be sure to sign up at http://peacedaypray.tumblr.com/join ,” say the Peace Day organizers. Find a full list and interactive map of participating congregations at http://peacedaypray.tumblr.com/2013events .
— Bryan Hanger, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the denomination’s Office of Public Witness, and Matt Guynn of the On Earth Peace staff, contributed to this report.