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Interfaith Walk Takes Steps Toward Peace

Date: Sept. 11, 2002
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Archive: Campus News

Members of 14 different religious groups joined with UC Campus Ministries to mark the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by taking steps - literally - toward peace. The Interfaith Walk for Peace drew more than 110 people, who marched to 14 points along Clifton Avenue near the UC main campus to pray and reflect.

Peace Walk "May love grow in you as you take these steps, as you take your breaths, as you think, as you feel, as you pray. We are connected by one street as we are connected by one earth. May this walk lead us into new pathways for a just peace and for compassion," wrote walk organizer Paul Sittason Stark of the Wesley Foundation in a flyer walkers carried with them during the 10 a.m.-noon journey.

Participants included members of the Jewish, Methodist, Islamic, Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Unitarian, Baptist, Lutheran and other faiths, as well as faculty, local residents, ministers and students. A handful of sixth-grade reporters from the Waldorf School in Winton Place reported on the commemoration for their school newsweekly.

The event was organized by Campus Ministries as part of UC's "Reflections on Sept. 11th" series. The walk began at the Islamic Association of Cincinnati mosque at 3668 Clifton Ave. There Dr. Sheikh Rahman, a member of the All Islamic Centers of Cincinnati, called to mind "what happened a year and an hour ago" and read prayers from the Koran.

Before continuing southward to the second stop at St. John Unitarian Universalist Church, UC faculty member Steve Sunderland, professor of social work, stressed the need to reach out in fellowship and brotherhood to others, especially at the Islamic Association. "In some ways, this is Ground Zero, too," he said. "We need all the friendship we can get."

Peace WalkReligious representatives repeated the call for peace and friendship throughout the walk, coupling it with the message that peace begins with each individual. Mickey Sheibly, campus minister at St. Monica/St. George Catholic Church, pointed out that right after Sept. 11, 2001, she felt confused, angry and frustrated. She struggled to understand where "God was in all of this." She realized "God is always present in my life. I just need to open myself up." She said she came to the walk to pray for peace and noted that peace begins within "my own heart."

The Rev. Jason Leo of Calvary Episcopal Church admitted that "peacemaking can be the most dangerous of tasks, but it is of the utmost importance in our world today." He suggested that there is growing fear of continuing war and "that an eye for an eye is going to leave the whole world blind."

"May our peace walk continue this day and every day," he said.

Rev. Jerry Hill of Clifton United Methodist Church read from the writings of the Dalai Lama, who stressed that the one way to get what you wish in your own life is to help others get it, too. Later, near the walk's conclusion, this message was echoed by Tibetan monk Geshe Tandhar. He stressed that the route to happiness is to help others achieve happiness.

The mid-way stop took walkers to Engine Company 34, the fire station at the corner of Ludlow and Clifton. There, as Channel 9 news cameras rolled, Capt. Kevin Campbell expressed appreciation to local citizens for the support they have shown firefighters in the past year. Flowers, candles and flags sat atop a bench in front of the station, below a large U.S. flag hanging on the front wall. Capt. Campbell shook hands with each participant as they moved on to Hebrew Union College. At HUC, a guitarist led the crowd in singing a song in Hebrew that stated, "Peace will yet come to us and to everyone. Peace, upon us and upon all world peace, peace."

UC geology major Jill Conway built upon the peace theme during her comments outside the Wesley Foundation United Methodist Student Center. "Peace is meeting your neighbor and starting where you're at, not just learning who they are, but valuing them," she said.

At Hillel Jewish Student Center, Rabbi Abie Ingber recalled that the day's march fulfilled a 30-year-old dream of bringing Clifton Avenue congregations together in prayer. "On the one hand, what a terrible loss last Sept. 11 was to make this dream come true. None of us would say it was worth it," he said. Yet, for future generations, the walk is a significant step toward peace, he said. "It's like a fancy suit that cost $400," he continued. "If you wear it only once, it was expensive. But if you wear it every day, it was a great buy. No one will ever say Sept. 11, 2001, was a great day. But it was a formative one," he said. He concluded by reading Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my shepherd") in Hebrew and in English.

The walk concluded at the College-Conservatory of Music Plaza, where participants joined in the UC ceremony to remember the lives lost last Sept. 11.

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