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URI Global Council Urges Observance of UN International Day of Peace

The August 2003 letter from Charles Gibbs, Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative, urging observance of the United Nations' International Day of Peace on September 21 and describing plans for such in Chile.

By Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs

Dear Friends of the URI,

Greetings of love and peace. In July, I wrote on behalf of URI's Global Council urging an active observance of the UN's International Day of Peace this coming September 21. I write now to share news of an observance that is being planned in Chile and to renew my urging to all to find a meaningful way to join a global community focused on peace. The suggestions I offered previously for how you might participate are repeated at the end of this letter.

The Spiritual Forum of Santiago for Peace Cooperation Circle is planning a three-day observance for international peace with three different aspects, which are detailed by Global Council Trustee Gerardo Gonzalez:

  1. Prayers by the communities: We are inviting the communities belonging to the various religions and spiritual traditions which are active in Santiago to meet on Saturday 20 or Sunday 21 in their own places (churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, etc.) to pray from their own faith for peace in the world, aware that other communities, built upon other faiths and spiritual traditions are doing the same in other places of our city, our country and the world.
  2. Prayers for peace in the world at the schools: Private and public schools are being invited to celebrate the International Day of Peace during the morning of Monday 22 of September, including prayers, which will have an ecumenical or interfaith character in those places where there are students or teachers who belong to different religions or spiritual traditions.
  3. Central Ceremony of Interfaith prayers for Peace in the World: The three-day celebration of the International Day of Peace will with a ceremony in the main conference hall of the UN Regional Headquarters (ECLAC) in Santiago, where we will be hosted by the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Representatives from around twelve religions and spiritual traditions (Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Sikhs, Sufis, Bahá'ís and indigenous traditions) will be seated in a circle at the center of a huge circular hall, surrounded by a multi-religious audience. They will pray one by one, using their own sacred languages, songs and rituals. A minute in silence will follow, allowing all the people attending the ceremony to pray simultaneously for peace. The event will end with all the participants reading in loud voice a commitment to the cause of peace.

I hope the vision and plans of our Chilean brothers and sisters excites and inspires you. I invite others to share their plans and to share the invitation to join the global community observing the International Day of Peace. Here are a few suggestions of how you might observe the International Day of Peace:

  • Have a Moment of Silence for peace at 12 noon.

  • Encourage local religious communities to observe this Moment of Silence and encourage schools to do this on Friday, Sept. 19, when the Peace Bell will be rung at the UN.

  • Hold an International Day of Peace Vigil - a full day of spiritual observance for peace. See www.idpvigil.com.
  • Plant a Peace Pole - plant a new one or re-dedicate an existing one.
  • Collaborate with UN offices and missions in your area in commemorating the Day. See www.un.org/events/peaceday.
  • Encourage your city, state, or national government to issue a proclamation declaring September 21st as a day of peace, nonviolence, and cease-fire. See www.internationaldayofpeace.org for ideas.
  • Ask your local media to publicize the International Day of Peace.

On behalf of all who yearn for peace, I thank you for your commitment.

Love, Charles Gibbs

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