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Launch Event 2008



Unity Made Visible officially announced its acceptance as a Cooperation Circle within the worldwide United Religions Initiative on September 21, 2008, the International Day of Peace, at Antioch Baptist Church in Bedford Hills, NY. The church was celebrating its 114th anniversary by planting a Peace Pole, which was dedicated in a ceremony organized by Pastor Paul Briggs, a founding member of the CC.

It was a glorious September afternoon as Diaconate members processed from the church, where the Peace Pole had been blessed in the Sunday service, and large, colorful flags of the world were distributed to 150 congregation members. The Chancel Choir sang, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” The event began with children reading peace quotes as an invocation. There were also some welcoming remarks from Bedford Hills Town Supervisor, Ms. Lee Roberts.

Paul Storfer, facilitator of Unity Made Visible, was invited to offer some brief words about the launch of UMV as part of the URI. Unity Made Visible is a three-year-old Westchester organization formed by the common goals of the Antioch Baptist Church of Bedford Hills, the Katonah Presbyterian Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Katonah, the Upper Westchester Society of Thornwood, and the Jewish Family Congregation of South Salem, NY. It has now expanded its mission to create opportunities for education, dialogue and community among people of all beliefs, and will serve as a forum through which all members of the community work, side by side, towards genuine peace and understanding.

Deacon Cleveland Garvin then read a passage from scripture, Isaiah 2:2-4.

Antioch Pastor Paul Briggs asked, “What does it mean to plant a peace pole?  It is an Ebenezer, a stone of help, it is a monument to how God has helped us and to what we pray God will continue to help us accomplish. […]  So why raise a monument?  Monuments are more for the future generations than for the present.  Monuments commemorate a moment in time to be sure future generations remember the moment and the history and to inspire them to continue the work, in this case, for peace.  It is also a sign to be read by all passersby to inform them that in this place, on this very hallowed spot a people made a commitment to peace.” Pastor Briggs read the eight languages for the prayer “May Peace Prevail on Earth” on the Peace Pole and told the story of why each one was chosen.

He introduced Rev. Deborah Moldow, who is both a member of Unity Made Visible Cooperation Circle and the Representative to the United Nations for the World Peace Prayer Society, which initiated the Peace Pole project. She explained that there are 250,000 Peace Poles all over the world, and that many people gather at their local Peace Pole for a Minute of Silence on the International Day of Peace. She aslo introduced Monica Willard, UN Representative for the URI. She then led a brief ceremony where everyone prayed for peace in the country whose flag they were holding, as well as in the United States of America. Everyone pointed their flags at the Peace Pole to “send their prayers into the pole so that they would radiate out to all who pass by and see it.” They all recited three times, “May Peace Prevail on Earth!”

The Diaconate placed the Peace Pole into the ground, as the Chancel Choir concluded the event with joyful singing.