Jan. 20, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker
Each year, more than 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence, according to the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Many more are injured and suffer from physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems. All told, the economic impact of violence is staggering, costing countries billions in U.S. dollars annually, the organization states.
Peace. Shalom. Salaam. Pace. In any language, it spells the absence of violent actions and words and the presence of harmony and security. Toward promoting a world freer of violence, hostilities and anger, La Sierra University, a Seventh-day Adventist Christian institution, is holding Peace Week, Jan. 25 through Jan. 30. The aim is to influence the creation of a more peaceful society through activities that teach and inspire.
The week’s highlights include an international flag and peace pole ceremony; opportunities to sign the international petition for “EndItNow,” a global campaign advocating an end to violence against women and girls; an art exhibit of massive charcoal drawings by World Peace Prayer Society representative and Japanese artist Uran Snyder; a debate on peace versus freedom by La Sierra’s award-winning speech and debate team; a viewing and discussion of the film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”; a sermon titled “Fighting for Peace When Your Story is Controversy”; and a peace concert in Hole Memorial Auditorium. See daily schedule below.
“…Christians are called on to be a voice for peace,” stated Dr. Lourdes Morales-Gudmundsson, chair of the Peace Week 2010 organizing committee and chair of La Sierra’s World Languages department. “Peace is not passivism; it is a call to action, a call to create peace in our homes, our workplaces, our churches and our nation. Peacemaking is a call to exercise the highest Christian virtues of forgiveness, reconciliation, justice and love in whatever circle of influence we are impacting with our words and actions.”
“Peace Week is an attempt to incorporate peacemaking into the co-curriculum of La Sierra University and eventually into the academic program,” Morales-Gudmundsson said.
Snyder’s exhibit opened Jan. 11 at La Sierra’s Brandstater Gallery and will run through Feb. 2. She titled her show of three, wall-sized charcoal drawings, “Yearning.” The exhibit of intertwined, reaching, striving human forms and faces depict humans’ desire for a harmony. “ ‘Yearning’ came from the inner [desire] for peace, for a peaceful existence,” the artist said. “The whole thing is about the human condition.”
Snyder is a Southern California representative for the New York-based World Peace Prayer Society. The society, which originated in Japan, has planted, or installed, more than 200,000 peace poles and conducted peace ceremonies around the world. The ceremonies involve displaying national flags and holding prayers for countries, or states, or perhaps Native American tribes, depending on the type of ceremony. The society’s goal is to influence peace throughout the world by encouraging individuals to include the plea, “may peace prevail on Earth” in their prayers.
During a reception Jan. 11 for the opening of her show, Snyder presented the university with a four-sided peace pole. Made in Japan, the pole is inscribed in English, Spanish, Japanese and German with the prayer, “May peace prevail on Earth.” The pole will be featured in the international flag and peace pole ceremony scheduled for Jan. 30, during an 11 a.m. service at the La Sierra University Church, 4937 Sierra Vista Ave.
The La Sierra University campus and church family are joining the global “EndItNow” campaign to collect one million signatures on a petition for presentation to the United Nations Secretary General.
The campaign advocates an end to global violence against women and girls. An initiative of the international humanitarian organization, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), and of the worldwide women’s ministries department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the petition is the first step in taking a stronger stand against all types of abuse of women and girls locally and around the world. The campaign will use the petition in a call for the creation of effective new policies that protect women and girls. Participants may sign the petition on Facebook or the enditnow.org Website.
“As people of faith we are called to be peacemakers. The world is rife with conflict whether between nations, tribes, communities, families, or individuals,” said Heide Ford, director of La Sierra University’s Women’s Resource Center and a Peace Week organizer. “Violence and conflict sell books and movies. We are bombarded by it through the news media. Peace Week calls our campus and community to redirect its focus to creating peace and resolving conflict.”
“Through poetry and petition, through debate and worship new thoughts are birthed and new convictions acted upon,” she said. “If each person chooses to be a peacemaker in their circle of influence, the ripple effect can combine to make a wave of change in this world.”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University