Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sept. 21st 2018- “The Universal Right to Peace” Int’l Peace Day celebration held in Des Moines

By Christine Sheller

“The Universal Right to Peace” was the theme of this year’s celebration of International Peace Day in Des Moines Friday, September 21st. 
Celebrating International Peace Day has become an annual observance in Des Moines, a holiday started by the United Nations.  Approximately 50 participants gathered at Cowles Commons at the Peace Garden for this celebration.  The Des Moines Faith Committee for Peace planned and organized this event.  Many cosponsors helped with publicity and finances, including Iowa Peace Network.

Gathering music was led by pastor Mary Beth Mardis-LeCroy, with songs such as “Study War no More” and “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.”
(Sheller/ IPN)  Mary Beth Mardis-McCroy leading music

  A welcome was given by Carmen Lampe Zeitler.  She acknowledged the theme of this year’s celebration, inspired by the UN’s celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created in 1948.  She also explained that the Int’l Day of Peace coincides with the opening of the U.N. meetings on September 22.

A poem by Rumi was used for the Call to Gather, read by Emmett Phillips.  The poem was “One Song,” and Phillips is a multi-talented hip hop artist, poet, and actor.  He is a fellow in ASTEP- Artists Striving To End Poverty.  He also led the Litany of Wisdom later in the program, using quotes found in the stone wall-benches in the Peace Garden, from peace advocates such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Chief Seattle, and Martin Luther King, Jr. 
(Sheller/ IPN)  Emmett Phillips speaking

After the call to gather, participants heard from Morgan Rivers about the Dance of Universal Peace.  Rivers taught the hand-dance to participants, which included song with words from several world religions and hand dance paired with words.  Words such as Sri Ram, Buddha, Allah, Elohim, and Eleison were all intermingled in song and dance.  Participants were to learn more dance later in the program.

After the Universal Worship Dance, participants read from the Litany of Wisdom, as mentioned before, reading a quote from peace advocates, after Phillips read a sentence or two about the peace advocate from whom the quote came.

Next was another presentation and sharing by Rivers, of Arts for Peace, which she had explained started in the 1960’s in Des Moines, a legacy of Samuel Lewis.  This next presentation “Spirit of Peace Dance” included willing participants who made two circles in the middle of the gathering, which was already set in a semi-circle.  
(Sheller/ IPN)  Attendees forming the circles and participating in the "Spirit of Peace Dance
The words to the “Spirit of Peace Dance” were “Spirit of Peace, To your cause we give our strength, That love may reign and war may cease, Mir miru mir (Peace on earth, Peace).  History behind this dance includes that it was performed in 1989 as a spontaneous demonstration by a group of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans in the Kremlin’s Red Square.  The locals began to join in as soon as they the Russian words to the counter melody, “Kyih-dyee-nuh-moo” (Toward the One).  The music is traditional, the words and dance are by Rev. Otto Zingg and Neil Douglas- Klotz.

Next participants sang “Dona Nobis Pacem” during an offering taken for the expenses of the celebration.

After offering, participants were led in another circle dance “Thy Light is in All Forms”.  People formed circles within the gathering again for this dance, encircling battery-powered tea candles that participants received upon arrival and were asked to light and place in the middle of the circle.

The program was ended with A Blessing, led by Eloise Cranke, of MFSA, and a Moving On Song, “World Peace Prayer.”

Christine Sheller is editor and coordinator of Iowa Peace Network.  She is a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary.

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