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December 25, 2012 > Giving peace a chance through prayer

Giving peace a chance through prayer

By M. J. Laird
Photos By Cassandra Broadwin

Cosponsored by Tri City Interfaith Council and Interfaith Women of Peace, the program will feature prayers spoken in word and in song as well as in silence. Among the faiths that will have their traditions represented are: Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Native American, Sikh, Jewish, and Muslim.

"Peace is more than the absence of war," says Marge Leonard, a member of the Interfaith Women of Peace who has attended the event for a number of years. "There is a benefit to individuals who are hopeful, who are focusing at one time together to create an aural mindset. The time of 4 a.m. is meaningful in this darkened time in a spiritual setting with candles lit.

"There is something to be said for lighting candles," says Leonard, "rather than cursing the darkness, to be praying for peace and starting a new year with a peaceful construct. Certainly, there are many places around the world that could use peace at this time."

Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, minister of Niles Discovery Church, offers levity to those tentative about leaving cozy, warm beds to arrive by 4 a.m.: "We have the heat turned on" so people can pray in comfort.

The event takes place at 4 a.m. because it is synchronized to noon Greenwich Mean Time. People around the world are asked to pray at exactly the same time, creating a unity in their prayer focused on peace. "But it is valuable to pray for peace every day," adds Leonard.

Rev. Spencer, who has lived in Fremont for eight years, says that Fremont's diversity of cultures has helped him to learn more about other faith traditions through services like these and other interfaith work. "I just love being in this community with its diversity of cultures.

"I believe that the more we connect with the Divine, however we may call the Divine, it is a positive force in the universe." Even at 4 a.m.? "Because we are doing it at 4 a.m., not the typical time most of us are up, we are upsetting our normal rhythms. To get up and pray, that in and of itself is powerful. I still remember an instrumental piece played on the flute a couple of years ago during the International Peace Prayer Service, the power of that moment."

At one point in the service, attendees will be invited to come forward to light candles in silence, offering up prayers and hope.

While some may view prayer as passive, Sets Amann of Union City, involved in the Interfaith Women of Peace that began meeting about 18 months ago, views peace as very active. "Prayer can be action because it gives courage. People use prayer to unwind, to get quiet in the world we live in. Prayer gives us peace of heart. Prayer gives me strength when I feel like I don't have it, an inner peace that I don't get living in our society."

International Peace Prayer Service
Monday, December 31
4 a.m.
Niles Discovery Church
255 H St., Fremont
(510) 797-0895

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