Juniata staff's promise of pray for each day in 2000 is met
By Tom Gibb, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
A year ago at Juniata College in Huntingdon County, they made a commitment. By daybreak each day, there would be someone on a windswept hilltop a mile from campus, looking off at the hills to the east and, at the moment of sunrise, offering a prayer for peace.
Juniata art professor and participant Jack Troy dubbed it "witnessing in the wilderness."
On New Year's morning -- 366 daybreaks later, because 2000 was a leap year -- the committed could say they did it. Sometimes it rained. Some mornings, the wind cut across the hill as the temperature stayed in single digits.
Occasionally, hill climbers came in small crowds. Often they numbered two or three. And once in a long while, it was but one, usually Andrew Murray, the Juniata professor who orchestrated the whole effort.
"I was amazed at how people responded," said Murray, director of Juniata's Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, a program that ponders ways to fashion a durable peace. "We had considerably over 1,000 people who went up there."
The revolving cast of participants offered prayers and meditation from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Baha'i and Hindu traditions.
They came from as far away as State College, 26 miles away.
And they showed up to try to change the world through prayer or simply to dip into the serenity of the 14 acres of open air at Juniata's Elizabeth Evans Baker Peace Chapel.
"I think that everybody who went up there felt it was kind of a gift to lead the prayers," Murray said. "I'm not sure that the world is more peaceful as a result. But in comparison to the billions of dollars spent to build arms and keep the peace, I think it's more efficient."
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