Variety of religions represented at International Day of Peace service

September 21, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION
  • Temm Bikle, a Buddhist monk from Hagerstown, prays at Dunker Church Tuesday night during an International Day of Peace service.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG - To do harm to others is to do harm to one's self.

By doing good works, we shall obtain peace.

Where there is fear and suspicion, let there be confidence and trust.

Peace is the will of God.

Violence is the chasm that when opened consumes us all.

Those were among the nuggets of wisdom passed on to about 75 people at Dunker Church Tuesday night during an International Day of Peace service.

People representing a variety of religious groups, including Quakers, Catholics, Muslims, Mennonites, Brethren, Unitarian Universalists, Buddhists and others, gathered at the historic spot at Antietam National Battlefield to push for peace.

International Day of Peace provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date, according to the program for the service.


The day was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 and it coincides with the annual start of the session of the United Nations.

Those inside Dunker Church listened to prayers, heard and sang along in songs and meditated during the service that lasted until dusk. Because there is no electricity in the church, darkness began to fall in the room as those gathered sang.

Paula Myers of Clear Spring, one of the people who attended, talked about the contrasts at the site. While the fight against slavery was fought during the Battle of Antietam, those returning Tuesday night were fighting issues such as prejudice.

"Oh my gosh, it was amazing," Myers said of the service.

Myers said she wished that more children could be at the service to experience the "oneness" of the group.

Naomi Rohrer of Kearneysville, W.Va., said she came to the service because peace will not happen with people working individually.

Representatives from different faiths came to the front of the room to give overviews of how their beliefs look at peace.

Temm Bikle, a monk, explained how Buddhists put the masses of people ahead of themselves. When one takes care of the masses instead of concentrating on one's self, the masses end up taking care of the individual, said Bikle, of Hagerstown.

"It all comes back in multiples," said Bikle, saying that a big problem in the United States is people being wrapped up in themselves.

"It starts to pit us against each other," Bikle said after the service.

During the service, Bikle sat on the floor and offered the Metta Sutra prayer, which is meant to evoke kindness and compassion. He also performed the Lotus Sutra, which means that all life is sacred, Bikle said.

Two men representing the Muslim faith explained how all peace originates from God and that by doing good work, the world will know peace.

Marilyn Henderson described the Mennonite view of peace, saying followers of the faith believe that peace is the will of God.

She recognized the power of God, saying "thank you for your gracious spirit that moves among us," and she asked God to forgive man for "blurring your vision."

A man representing the Quakers led the group in meditation, a common practice of the faith. He then encouraged everyone to shake hands with others around them, another tradition.

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