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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014

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Peacewalk_Good Shepherd

The crowd gathers at the Church of the Good Shepherd before the walk

Photographer: Audrey Kelly

Peacewalk_Signs

Papers that Peace Walk participants filled out before the event

Photographer: Audrey Kelly

Peacewalk_Hillel

Man holds up Sept. 11 sign during Peace Walk's temporary stop at Hillel

Photographer: Audrey Kelly

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Sept. 11 peace walk honors victims, unites religions


To honor the thousands of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Athens community came together for an interfaith peace walk on Sunday evening.

The walk, which attracted more than 400 people, began at the Church of the Good Shepherd on University Terrace and ended at the Islamic Center on Stewart Street.

The event began with an inspiring speech from United Campus Ministry's Campus Minister Evan Young on the front steps of Good Shepherd. 

"By remembering this day it has drove many of us to tears," Young said. "Tears for those who died, tears of sadness and compassion for those they left behind, tears of loss and frustration, but also grieving for some sense of what we used to have in our nation's safety and invulnerability."

Young also provided some words of hope to the large crowd.

"We are a community and we need not believe alike to love alike," Young said. "We'll walk in hope because we share across the faith lines a vision of the earth made fair and all of the people one."

The walk made its way past most of the campus-area churches and worship centers, including the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, First United Methodist Church, Athens First Presbyterian, Hillel, St. Paul Catholic Church, Christ Lutheran Church, and Christ the King University Parish, and ended by encircling the Islamic Center in a symbolic gesture of welcome, inclusion and appreciation.

Javaid Bhat, doctoral student and member of the Muslim Students Association, said he joined the walk to remember the lives that were lost.

"It is a very important day in the history of America, as well as the history of humanity," Bhat said. "A lot of people lost their lives. In memory of those deaths we need to pray for the dead."
 
Stephen Toropov, a freshman who was raised both Muslim and Christian, said he attended the walk to support both sides of his faith.

"In the last 10 years, I have had to deal with a lot of misunderstanding and it's not about that – it's about people coming together and helping each other. This is about peace," Toropov said.

Alan Boyd, retired director of Ohio University International Student and Faculty Services, said he enjoyed the peace walk and was encouraged by the turnout.

"This was an opportunity to join with others to honor those who died and also contribute to the sentiment that we (Athens community) need to get together and believe in each other," Boyd said. 

The walk was part of the President Barack Obama inspired "Better Together" campaign at Ohio University, which is a yearlong effort to mobilize college students from different faith backgrounds to engage in community service together to make Ohio University a better place for everyone.

Sponsors of the peace walk included: UCM: Center for Spiritual Growth and Social Justice; Appalachian Peace and Justice Network; Ohio University Office of Diversity, Access and Equity; Ohio University Office of Residential Housing; Athens Friends Meeting; Christ Lutheran Church; Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd; Hillel at Ohio University; the Muslim Student Association (MSA); and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens.