FORT WAYNE – Mayor Tom Henry hands out a lot of proclamations, he said, but theyre not just empty symbolism.
Its not just a piece of paper I sign and forget about, Henry told a couple dozen people gathered Saturday on the Allen County Public Library Plaza to mark the United Nations International Day of Peace. They mean a lot to me, because they represent a group of people thats taken steps to make Fort Wayne a better place to live.
That idea was key to the gathering, said the Rev. Terry Anderson, executive director of the Interfaith Hospitality Network.
I dont think anyone here is naïve. We know were not going to bring together a few people here and send the winds of peace across the world, Anderson said. But every action does make a difference; every drop of hope makes a difference.
The differences made over the years could be seen in the gathering itself, he said. The event, sponsored by groups from the University of Saint Francis, the Peace & Justice Commission of Allen County, Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, Plymouth Congregational Church and the Zonta Club of Fort Wayne, was a multicultural, interfaith event, featuring prayers and readings from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Native American beliefs, Tibetan Hinduism, Buddhism and the Bahai faith.
Even 10, 20 years ago, you wouldnt have seen this kind of multicultural gathering, Anderson said. True, we have very little impact nationally, but we can do something locally, like bring people of different backgrounds together to pray for peace, and thats always a good thing.
The Hindu prayer noted that in the heart of everything the same truth reigns. The Jewish prayer asked that all people beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks.
The Buddhist prayer asked that those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free, and the Native American prayer asked that our children may grow with peace in mind.
The event closed with the group reciting the prayer of Saint Francis, that we each be an instrument of peace.