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Residents gather in Hagerstown to pray for peace

September 21, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Participants in the International Day of Prayer for Peace stop at the corner of Franklin and Potomac streets to hear a passage during a peace walk Wednesday evening.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Paul Yumlu took to the streets of Hagerstown Wednesday night, doing his part to promote peace.

As far as the Hagerstown Muslim is concerned, the future lies in the great faiths of the world coming together.

Yumlu said there is no single way to God, and people must respect the paths of others rather than trying to "outdo each other."

The risk is descending into religious violence, according to Yumlu.

"(That) is totally opposite of what we're trying to accomplish," said Yumlu, who was among about 25 people participating in an annual downtown prayer vigil.

The vigil was held to recognize the International Day of Prayer for Peace, an initiative of the United Nations and the World Council of Churches.

The International Day of Prayer for Peace is when guns, armies and militia are to go silent to observe 24-hour cease fires around the world, according to a program for Wednesday's event.

People and grassroots organizations also join in prayer and speak out about their hopes for a more peaceful world, the program said.

The event has been recognized in past years in Washington County. Last year a service was held at Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield.

Wednesday night's service started with songs and prayers in the parking lot of the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren at Washington and Mulberry streets.

The group then lit candles and started walking up Washington Street. They crossed over to Franklin Street and stopped at the intersection of North Potomac and Franklin streets, where a prayer in the Buddhist tradition was offered.

The group stopped at other points in town as prayers were offered from different religions.

Other than a drum being steadily tapped at the front of the procession, it was a quiet walk as the group circled the city's Public Square, which was to be the final stop.

Occasional onlookers stopped on bicycles or gazed from the front of homes as the walkers passed.

Local Pastor Ed Poling began the vigil by saying it's a major challenge to live in the world without violence. Poling then led the group in the song "We Meet Together for Peace."'

"Bring us close to thee and each other," Gwen Skrabak said in an invocation.

"Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace. Let peace fill our city, our world, our universe," Sandy Boyer said in a litany for peace.

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