Many Brethren Congregations and Communities Plan to Celebrate Peace Day

Peace Day will be celebrated on Sept. 21, and On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness have teamed up this year to invite Brethren congregations and groups to plan events on the theme “Who Will You Make Peace With?”

On Earth Peace reports that more than 120 communities in 18 countries will be praying for peace this weekend. Also, this weekend marks the end date of the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign initiated by On Earth Peace development director Bob Gross in honor of the late Paul Ziegler, a McPherson (Kan.) College student and member of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren who died in a bicycle accident. On Earth Peace reports that “trails, roads, and rivers have been traveled by hundreds to collectively raise funds and awareness for our violence prevention programs. We’ve traveled 6,322 miles. We’ve raised $147,561.”

Following are just a few of the many events being planned by Brethren and others. Also below: a worship resource for Peace Day written by Matt Guynn of the On Earth Peace staff.

University Park (Md.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a progressive ride/walk that will stop at various neighborhood sites throughout the town.

Andy Murray, a former director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and a popular Brethren folk singer and composer, has completed a 335-mile bicycle ride from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Washington, D.C., as part of 3000 Miles for Peace.

Wakeman’s Grove Church of the Brethren in Edinburg, Va., plans an afternoon “Gathering for Prayer and Peace” 3:30-6 p.m., Sept. 21, led by Gabe Dodd and Bill Haley. The program will include a discussion on “Shalom and Human Flourishing,” and a children’s peace project, concluding with a prayer service at 5:15 p.m.

Bridgewater (Va.) College will hold an interfaith Peace Day service at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 on the campus mall.

Trinity Church of the Brethren in Sidney, Ohio, is holding an outdoor World Peace Prayer Ceremony at 10 a.m., Sept. 21, as “a way to share our spirit of peace and to pray for peace and happiness for every country in the world, by raising flags. Our prayers are to the one Creator God, and transcend our national boundaries, religions, and ideologies,” said an announcement from the congregation. “A similar ceremony was held at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on Valentine’s Day, 2013.” Involved in the ceremony is Kyoko Arakawa, the spouse of a Japanese family associated with the Honda Of America manufacturing plant located in the same county, who presented a Peace Pole to the congregation a couple of years ago. For more information contact pastor Brent or Susan Driver, 937-492-9738 or susandrvr@hotmai1.com .

On Sunday evening, Sept. 22, Creekside Church of the Brethren in Elkhart, Ind., will host a Candlelight Labyrinth Service at 7:30 p.m., outdoors in the Creekside labyrinth prayer garden. The service includes time for meditation and contemplation, and an opportunity to walk the candlelit labyrinth. It is open to the public. Bring lawn chairs.

Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren is involved in the Fort Wayne, Ind., celebration of the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m. on the plaza at the Allen County Public Library. Other partners in the event are JustPeace, of the University of Saint Francis, the Peace and Justice Commission of Fort Wayne and Allen County, and members of Plymouth
Congregational Church Peace and Justice Committee. The church also is hosting a performance of ceremonial dances by the Tibetan monks of the Labrang Tashi Kyil Monastery on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m., sponsored by the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace. “The monks will be in Fort Wayne September 18-24,” said the church newsletter, “they will create a peace mandala at the Allen County Public Library and give performances at various local sites” which also include Manchester University.

Peace Community Church of the Brethren in Windsor, Colo., will celebrate Peace Day with a Blue Grass Gospel Jam and the planting of the peace pole.

Bryan Hanger, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and legislative associate at the Office of Public Witness, will preach for the Peace Day Service at Peters Creek Church of the Brethren on Sunday, Sept. 22. “I will be preaching about how Jesus is our Peace and our Identity, drawing on Ephesians 2:14-22,” he said in a Facebook announcement.

Ivester Church of the Brethren in Eldora, Iowa, is holding a Walk/Bike for Peace on Sept. 21. The event starts at the Pine Lake Trail at Deer Park, according to an announcement in the Northern Plains District newsletter. A brunch will be offered for participants at 9:30 a.m. Donations will be received for the work of On Earth Peace, and miles walked or bicycled will contribute to the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign.

International Brethren groups participating in Peace Day include the new Church of the Brethren in Spain, Brethren in the Dominican Republic, and possibly Brethren churches in Haiti, according to On Earth Peace. Ron Lubungo of the Brethren group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) posted on Facebook the group’s plans to gather “with other congregations around us to pray for peace in our state and abroad countries.” The Shalom Ministry in Reconciliation and Development (SHAMIREDE), a peace agency of the Brethren in Congo, is organizer of this event at Uvira in South Kvu Province of DRC. In Nigeria the effort Lifelines Compassionate Global Initiatives, affiliated with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), has been planning an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to fast, sing, and pray together in preparation for an interfaith gathering and visits by Peace Advocates to local churches and mosques.

Heeding God’s Call, an initiative against gun violence that has roots in the Historic Peace Churches, announced a number of events supporting Peace Day Philly in Philadelphia, Pa. Events began last week with a Sept. 14 happening with RAW Tools founder Mike Martin, who forged guns into garden tools as part of a gathering that also included stories, songs, and prayers for transformation led by Shane Claiborne at Simple Cycle in Philadelphia. On Sept. 21, at 2 p.m., a Memorial to the Lost Service with a Tee Shirt Memorial will remember each of the 288 people killed by gun violence in Philadelphia in 2012, at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. On Sunday, from 3-5 p.m., an Interfaith Conversation on Gun Violence with voices from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths will be held at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, led by moderator Chris Satullo of WHYY.

Community responsive prayer

In this responsive prayer written by Matt Guynn, the leader shouts out the phrases and the community repeats them back. Freely adapt to fit your context.

Leader: Turn to someone near you and say, “The peace of the Lord be with you!”
Congregation: The peace of the Lord be with you!

Leader: Turn to someone else and say, “The love of the Lord be with you!”
(congregation will continue to repeat each phrase)

Leader: Turn to someone else and say, “Who will you make peace with?”

Leader: Find someone else and say, “I want to make peace with you!”

Leader: Find someone else and say, “Will you make peace with me?”

Leader: Find someone else and say, “May we learn to live the peace of Christ!”

Leader: Find someone else and say, “Let’s pray for the violence to stop!”

Leader: Give us strength to make it so. Find someone else and say, “The violence in our homes is over!”

Leader: Give us strength to make it so. Find someone else and say, “The violence in our streets is over!” (may name a specific issue of concern)

Leader: Give us strength to make it so. Find someone else and say, “The violence in our faith communities is over!” (may name a specific area of faith-related violence)

Leader: Give us strength to make it so. Find someone else and say, “The violence with the earth is over!” (may name a specific area of environmental devastation)

Leader: Give us strength to make it so. Find someone else and say, “The violence between countries is over!” (may name specific countries)

Leader: Give us strength to make it so. (may include one’s own spoken prayer here)

In closing, invite people to pray in pairs or small groups.

For more about Peace Day 2013 and to register an event go to http://peacedaypray.tumblr.com .