Ninth Annual Celebration for Peace, 2013
The Ninth Annual Bridgewater Celebration for Peace was held Sept. 20-22, 2013. This year the theme was Peace through Living a Life Committed to Diversity, held in concert with Bridgewater State University (BSU). Through the efforts of Susan McCombe of the University and Community Partnerships, Dr. Sabrina Gentlewarrior director of the Diversity Coalition and the generous support of the university through the good offices of Pres. Dana Mohler-Faria we were able to present a special program on campus Fri., Sept. 20.
The evening began with a Barbecue on the BSU Quad to which the church, university and wider community were invited. On a perfect fall evening over a hundred people enjoyed a common meal with a truly diverse gathering. As a transition at the end of the meal, Bob Charlebois performed two Native American songs with drumming and chanting. Many people continued into the ballroom at the Rondileau Campus Center for a program led by Dr. Gentlewarrior.
Pres. Mohler-Faria and the Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson of First Parish Bridgewater welcomed the group. (Rev. Anita's words, a highlight of the evening, can be found further on this site.) Dr. Gentlewarrior then directed our thinking to the theme of the event. In her words, "Too often we think about peace as something ideal that can never be attained. We can achieve peace through the choices we make in our daily lives." After leading us in a conversation, she asked us to determine one specific action each of us could take. "We imagine what our lives will be like as we deepen our commitment and actions for diversity." Then we were invited to "create a lasting piece of art that depicts our joint vision for peace".
Jay Block, Collections and Exhibits Manager at BSU, had proposed a project where all participants could draw and write their ideas on cloth panels which could be displayed in various venues. Janet Dye of First Parish prepared large white panels with a top sleeve for poles to carry or hang the completed works. Two of the panels were spread on tables and everyone was able to illustrate the one peace promise each had made. These were later carried up the hill to First Parish Church to be completed on Saturday.
The church activities began a week earlier with the flying of a new Peace Flag raised by Joe Risko. Then on Saturday, Sept. 21,the actual United Nations international Day of Peace we continued the celebration with our traditional activities. Starting at 1:00 p.m. an enthusiastic group of children and adults worked on individual peace flags and origami peace doves, and added ideas to the panels from Fri. evening. Members of the 7th and 8th Grade RE class assisted by several parents led the projects. We then gathered at our brand new Peace Pole for a special ceremony in recognition of the world wide event and the people responsible for the new pole. The Rev. Joanne Giannino led a service of readings and singing. As part of the service, James Hayes-Bohanan guided us in reading the message on the pole "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in some of the languages.
Our large Peace Dove which had been refurbished by Diane Breen was now carried at the head of the Peace Procession around the center of Bridgewater. Marchers also carried a "World Peace Day" banner, and waved their new flags and small doves. As we stopped at the various churches several readers shared thoughts of peace from several religions and cultures. Back at First Parish there were refreshments and cooperative Peace Games. As a special finish for the afternoon we joined in our second Playing for Peace Program. Led by Frankie Finnegan, Jim Quinn and Tony Winters, we sang peace anthems Including an original piece by Tony.
At the Sunday worship service at First Parish Rev. Anita read a statement issued Sept. 6 by UUA president Peter Morales regarding the proposed military strikes in Syria. This crisis was much on everyone's mind as we searched for ways toward peace. The minister's sermon entitled "Holding On" referenced the tenuous situation of the previous days. The music of the morning was related to our quest, especially "Shalom, Pacem, Peace", the round sung by the congregation led by the choir. Our final action was a congregational rededication of the Peace Pole and to the cause of Peace. Special thanks were offered to Frankie Finnegan for her research to find a new pole, the work of Quentin Jarvis to "plant" it assisted by Joe Risko, and for the donations from the Peace Vigil Committee.
For one more week the diversity banners and our large dove continued to be displayed at First Parish. Reminders that as the turmoil in the world continues, we must also rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of peace--in our hearts, in our homes, in our nations and and in all the world.