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Prayers for peace resound in city

September 21, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- A bagpiper moved slowly up Washington Street, the sounds of his instrument filling the air as about 45 people followed Monday night.

Curious onlookers peered out from homes along the route, and another man in the procession gently tapped on a drum.

The event was held on the International Day of Prayer for Peace, when people around the world were expected to pray for calm. Among the concerns of the local group were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and racial intolerance, incivility and violence here at home.

The local call for peace started when the group gathered at 7 p.m. in the parking lot of Hagerstown Church of the Brethren at the corner of East Washington and Mulberry streets.

The Rev. Ed Poling, pastor of the church, strummed a guitar and sang songs like "Peace Like a River," and the crowd joined in.

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Speakers talked about specific issues concerning them, and candles were handed to participants in preparation for the walk that was to circle downtown and end with a period of silent prayer at Public Square.

Poling said the International Day of Prayer for Peace was marked with an indoor event last year, but organizers wanted to do something different this year. The Interfaith Coalition of Washington County, a coalition of local churches, joined in organizing the downtown walk, Poling said.

Among those walking were Mark and Debbie Mooney.

Mark Mooney, pastor of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Smithsburg, said he is concerned about his son, Christopher Mooney, who is stationed in Iraq with the U.S. Army. Mark Mooney said he is concerned about all troops and felt the prayer walk was a "wonderful thing this community was doing."

Debbie Mooney was worried about a trend of people relying solely on violence to resolve issues.

"You have to learn to accept each other," she said.

Sue Vanderveer, another participant, said she believes a sense of peace from within individuals will spread to families, the community and the world.

"In fact, I believe we should have someone praying for peace year-round," Vanderveer said.

The walkers were escorted by Hagerstown Police Department Patrolman Carroll Braun, who pedaled a bicycle along the route.

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