City walks for peace
Around 300 people prayed for an end to all wars when they joined the Walk for Peace through Portland's central business district on Sunday.
Prayers were offered from various faiths including Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Bahai' and Buddhist.
"Together with the ecumenical community of churches we commit ourselves to work for a culture of non-violence and to overcome the violence we encounter in our lives," said Catholic Church representative Kerry Arnott during a gathering at All Saints Church before the walk.
"Enough children have suffered violence," she said.
The crowd walked quietly along Bentinck Street and began singing chants such as "Peace Not War" before reaching Gawler Street, regularly stopping for prayers and speeches and causing only minor and brief traffic disruptions.
The walk ended after a final leg along Percy Street to the Uniting Church grounds.
Participants carried colourful banners painted by students at Portland's secondary colleges and more rudimentary home-made placards with inscriptions such as "No Blood For Oil".
Jessica Leishman sung a song for peace in the church grounds and children released helium filled balloons carrying peaceful messages.
Father Michael McKinnon said the Refugee Support Group had initiated the walk and received broad support.
He said it gave people an opportunity to communally pray for peace and demonstrate against war.
"The walk allowed everyone to be involved at their own level," he said.
©Copyright 2003, Portland Observer (Victoria, Australia)
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