World Peace Pilgrimage
Three Abrahamic Faiths Candlelight Vigil and Prayer Commemorating September 11
Three doves symbolizing peace were released at the climax of the September 11 vigil in Jerusalem's Independence Park, but one kept returning to the hands of people who believe that the solution to violence comes from God.
Eleven hundred people from 41 nations came to the World Peace Pilgrimage in the Holy Land believing that"it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." That was how Archbishop G. Augustus Stallings, Jr., co-convenor of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, introduced the candlelight vigil.
As darkness settled in and the Holy City emerged from its Sabbath rest, first one drum and then another established the rhythm for the vigil. Then Native American leaders joined their voices calling upon all humanity and all creation to spread the desire for peace throughout the universe.
"I greet you in the name of the one God of humanity-- the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam," Rev. Michael Jenkins proclaimed. "At this serious moment in history, we offer our condolences and prayers for those who lost their loved one in the 9/11 attacks in the U.S, as well as those innocent victims of violence in Russia, Israel, Palestinian Terrotories. We offer our condolences for those who lost their lives in the war in Iraq, and for the loss of innocent lives around the world."
Prayers and music set the solemn tone for the vigil across from the U.S. Consulate. Imam Haitham Bundakji, of of the Islamic Society of Orange County, California, referred to the 19 terrorists who led planes into buildings three years ago. "But they did not do this in my name or the name of Islam," he added. "We condemn that attack and all forms of terrorism. Osama Bin Laden, did you read the same Qur'an as I read? I call on George W. Bush not to hold 1 billion Muslims around the world responsible for eterrorism. Let's secure skies, land and seas, but not by attacking countries. I call upon Rev. and Mrs. Moon, king and queen of peace, to bring solutions. As a Muslim leader I extend my condolences to the families affected by violence on 9/11, in Russia and Iraq."
Vigil participants included representatives of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories. "The United States has been considered the world's most powerful country, but it does not have the strength to solve the problems of the world," Rev. Jenkins continued."Politics cannot resolve the problems of tehhuman heart. The essence of the struggle in the Middle East is rooted in separation from God. That's why the voice of religion is needed."
Since the 9/11 attacks, some people say that there is no way for Muslims, Christians and Jews to work together. But the American Clergy Leadership Conference focused on verses in the Holy Scriptures and the Qur'an that say we must respect each other.
"Peace will come not by might or power, but by God's spirit," said Rev. Jenkins, quoting the Biblical prophet Jeremiah. Professor Ian Hall from Oxford University in England, chanted the words of the poem ofJohn Donne, "Will thou forgive?"
The brisk breeze blew out many candles, but people kept
relighting theirs from neighboring candles. Dr. Shuki Ben Ami, Director of the
Emil Frank Institute in Jerusalem, brought smudge and a peace pipe to share
with the Native American's, who stayed around after the vigil dispersed to
continue their songs and chants for peace.
Photos by Ken Owens