Baha'i News -- Interfaith event celebrates peace
Tuesday, January 01, 2002

Interfaith event celebrates peace

World Peace Bell rings third time

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEWPORT — A youth choir, joined by 800 other voices on New Year's Eve, closed 2001 fittingly, with a rendition of “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

The ballroom at The Syndicate was at standing room only for the third annual Interfaith Service for World Peace, a two-hour celebration of peace and diversity that included songs, dances and prayers from groups and individuals representing 10 faiths and cultures.

“I'm just thrilled to be here,” said Donna Lilley of Springfield Township as she walked from the hall. “I consider myself fortunate to take part in the service. It's a great idea. What could be better than celebrating peace with people of different cultures and faiths?”

The Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., pastor of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Carthage and a participant in all three services, said this year's event “has more meaning because of all we've been through. I think it provides inspiration for all of us to do better in 2002.”

Included in the service were representatives of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Bahai, Hindu, Islamic and American Indian religions and cultures.

The Interfaith Service was a joint effort of the World Peace Bell Education Program and The Brueggeman Center for Interreligious Dialogue at Xavier University. The program concluded with the swinging and ringing of the World Peace Bell, which is across from The Syndicate.

The New Jerusalem Male Chorus proved to be one of the hits of the program, performing the rousing hymns “Bound for Mount Zion” and “How I Got Over” as a procession filed into the ballroom to open the service, then responding to the Rev. Mr. Lynch's urging to “sing, brothers,” with “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “I Learned To Lean On Jesus's Everlasting Arm” near the end of the afternoon.

“With all that has occurred, especially Sept. 11, we have proven we can come back, we can do it,” the Rev. Mr. Lynch said. “This was a wonderful expression of interracial and cultural togetherness.”

Rosemary and Robert Weaver of Mount Washington said they had attended a similar but smaller interfaith service at St. Joseph Church in Cincinnati's West End following the April riots.

“I've always liked the idea of different religions coming together like this,” said Ms. Weaver.

“I also like seeing all the different cultures mingling and exchanging ideas.”

Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli said the Interfaith Service was another important part of the city's rebirth. “The Peace Bell is the catalyst for this,” he said. “This is a long-term thing for the city.”

Jeanne Marie Brightfire led a group from the North American Indian Council of Greater Cincinnati in a shawl dance and then performed American Indian sign language to “God Bless the USA” while the audience stood and sang along.

©Copyright The Cincinnati Post

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