Interfaith Leaders Unite for Peace in Colleyville
Last Saturday, a Virtual Unite for Peace Event was held in Colleyville, in place of the 5th Annual Peace Together Walk. Security concerns due to an uptick in violence since the start of the war in the Middle East forced what would have been a large public gathering indoors to a small, intimate event that was broadcast live on Facebook.
Faith leaders from around the Colleyville area addressed the gathering. Chris Klemann, who serves as Stake President for the Colleyville Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was honored to be invited to speak. Other speakers included Reverend Mike Dawson from First United Methodist Church of Colleyville; Imam Emad Hamdan of the Colleyville Masjid; Rabbi Robert Jacobs, Interim Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel; Deb Hinton from First Presbyterian Church of Grapevine; and Howard Rosenthal, President of Congregation Beth Israel and one of the founders of Peace Together. Youth volunteers from various faiths read the original litany, written by Mike Dawson at the organization’s founding.
Peace Together was founded in 2017 after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Ayesha Shafi, who opened the event, compared Peace Together to a neutral field, like the one mentioned in this ancient poem by Rumi, a 13th century Islamic poet and Sufi mystic.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
There is a field. I’ll meet you there.
Ms. Shafi said, “Peace Together is our field, a place where people from difference cultures, ethnicities, and faith traditions meet. We have learned through our work that when people meet, there is dialogue. When there is dialogue, there is acceptance, and when there is acceptance, there is peace.”
Chris Klemann spoke about a scripture in The Book of Mormon that talks about walking peaceably with the children of men. “How do we walk peaceably together? Everyone we meet is going through difficult things, things that are heartbreaking. Regardless of race, religion, ideology, let us walk peaceably together, helping and lifting each other.”
Reverend Mike Dawson spoke about the joy found in gathering a diverse group together in peace. “I believe God is pleased when all of God’s children can gather under the same roof, in all their glorious diversity, gathering in fellowship, mutual respect, and eventually, as friends. We are on holy ground when we come together. I can’t fix the world, but I can make a difference. I can refuse to give in to hate, I can rebuff hate speech when I hear it, I can encourage people to put away the broad brushes they use to paint people of other faiths and cultures. I can make my sphere of influence a no-hate zone. I can defend my neighbors.”
Imam Emad Hamdan talked about how people like those who participate in Peace Together share “a devotion to our common good and a belief in the dignity of all people.” Rabbi Robert Jacobs spoke about how peace takes effort, especially in times like this. “May we see in the eyes of each other, the image of ourself. Let us do this today and every day. Peace Together will happen when we join together, shake hands, and walk forward in unity.”
Deb Hinton, from First Presbyterian Church of Grapevine, echoed his sentiments. “Peace Together works. It’s working right now. We believe it is so important to actively cocreate peace together. It is something that takes effort every day.”
Howard Rosenthal, President of CBI and Founder of Peace Together, concluded the event by asking, “What kind of society do we need to build so that religion, political beliefs, gender and socioeconomic differences can be put aside in favor of peace and unity?” He went on to encourage listeners to “pause and think outside of [y]our norm. Envision working with and learning from all of your neighbors, even if at some point in your life, you learned to fear people whose lives were different from your own. If we truly want peace in our lives, let us consider how alike we really may be. He quoted Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Wiesel, who said, “Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures, peace is our gift to each other.”
President Chris Klemann expressed his gratitude by saying, “It was a privilege to speak at the Peace Together virtual event with other faith leaders from our community. Standing between these friends from the mosque, synagogue, and other local churches provides great hope during a difficult time in the world.”
The group hopes that they can hold the traditional Peace Together Walk next November. Until then, you can watch the Unite for Peace event here. It runs about 30 minutes.