Area religious groups honor International Day of Peace

September 23, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Gerti Hudson of Chambersburg, Pa., and Mark Warren of Hagerstown sing a song at the International Day of Peace Song and Prayer Fest held at Dunker Church on Sunday
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG — Shortcomings of mankind, “like the millions haunted by war” across the globe and others threatened by nuclear weapons were touched on Sunday evening during an annual International Day of Peace service at Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield.

Even troubles among religious groups were examined.

Commitment to justice is a core of the identity of the Presbyterian faith, said Kyle Powderly, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown on South Prospect Street.

Powderly emphasized the importance of people working together for justice, freedom and peace.

“And we do not do this well,” Powderly said of Presbyterians, drawing a few quiet chuckles from some of the estimated 70 people in attendance.

Powderly, who was joined at the front of the church by his wife, Kathy, said Presbyterians have a long history of divisiveness.

“We have spent so much time battling ourselves that we have almost forgotten that we can be and should be and are a prophetic voice of hope for a world that is increasingly without hope,” Powderly said.

Kenneth Anderson of New Joy Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hagerstown talked about the millions of people who are now haunted by war and threatened by nuclear weapons.

Anderson delivered four ingredients for peace: dialogue, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation.

The prayers for peace came from a site on the battlefield that saw some of the most brutal fighting in the Civil War’s Battle of Antietam 150 years ago.

Since the church was rebuilt in 1961 and 1962, a commemorative service has been held there.

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

The International Day of Peace was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the organization’s general assembly.

The Interfaith Coalition of Washington County organized Sunday’s ceremony, and about 15 area religious groups, including Buddhists, members of the Church of the Brethren, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Sufi Muslim community and the Islamic Society of Western Maryland participated.

Gwen Skrabak, who was representing St. Ann Roman Catholic Church in Hagerstown, talked about what makes peace.

Skrabak said the Catholic belief sees peace as more than just the absence of war.

Peace is the result of justice, Skrabak said. Peace comes when “society is rightly ordered,” when “people live as God intends” and when love abounds.

“When we love our neighbor, even those who irritate us or alienate us, then we give peace its only chance,” Skrabak said.

One of the presenters played a recording of John Lennon’s “Imagine” to get his point across.

Some people smiled and joined in singing the lyrics, which included Lennon’s yearning for “nothing to kill or die for.”

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