Area faiths join to pray for peace
12:45 a.m. 1/27/2002
By Phil Anderson
From the vantage point of leaders in the Topeka faith community, Sunday evening's Service of World Religions for Peace couldn't have come at a better time -- or sent a clearer message.
"I thought it was uplifting, seeing that people from many different traditions -- even traditions that seem in public to be opposed to each other -- actually come from the same perspective of working for peace in the world," said Bill Beachy, director of the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice, who attended the event. "I appreciated what a lot of speakers said today: that achieving peace is closely related to working for justice."
Representatives from 10 faith traditions took part in the program, which took place at Christ the King Catholic Church, 5973 S.W. 25th. Officials said about 200 people attended the service, which lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes.
The service was inspired by a similar gathering that took place Thursday in Assisi, Italy, in which Pope John Paul II was joined by more than 200 religious leaders from around the world to pray for world peace.
Speakers at Sunday's program spoke about what their religious traditions say about peace. Some speakers read prayers, while others, such as Rabbi Lawrence P. Karol, of Temple Beth Sholom, offered messages in song.
Many emphasized the role of individuals in first bringing about peace within their own lives before effecting change on a broader scale.
Rebecca Otte, representing the Zen Buddhist tradition, said it is common when thinking of the need for peace to look outward, believing it is another person's problem.
"But it doesn't work that way," Otte said. "Peace begins with me."
The Rev. Michael Jamison, of the Unity Church of Christianity, likened world peace to an onion, whose many layers must be encountered before getting to its core.
"If we are to have world peace," he said, "we have to peel through the layers."
An outer layer may be seen as a nation, while the next one as a state. Succeeding layers can be viewed as a city, a neighborhood, a home and an individual at the core.
Dr. Ashraf Sufi, representing the Islamic faith, said it is imperative for societies to bring about better understanding among themselves, to "work for peace and justice for all people and cooperate with each other in matters of goodness and virtue in order to stop terrorism, aggression and violence against innocent people."
Quoting from comments made Thursday by Pope John Paul II, Sister Loretto Marie Colwell, president and chief executive officer of St. Francis Health Center, said: "'... by the grace of God, a world in which the power of evil seems, once again, to have taken the upper hand will, in fact, be transformed into a world in which the noblest aspirations of the human heart will triumph, a world in which true peace will prevail.'"
Religious traditions represented at the service included: Baha'i, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, Unity and Zen Buddhist.
Phil Anderson can be reached at (785) 295-1195 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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