Interfaith crowd

Interfaith walkers light candles at end of march

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

interfaith sign

Students fill out signs at a past Interfaith Walk

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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Interfaith Peace Walk to celebrate religious diversity, common goals

Annual Walk starts at 7 p.m. Sept. 11

In the wake of the devastating attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, many terrified and confused American citizens repurposed their fear as anti-Islamic sentiment.

"The actual event was a horrific terrorist attack, but the response to it tended to highlight religious differences in a way that I think was, first of all, inaccurate, but also not helpful in terms of building that community that we want to see," United Campus Ministry (UCM) campus minister Evan Young said.

Young said the ideal world that UCM aspires to help create is a peaceful one in which relationships between individuals and between the nations are based on peace, compassion, respect and a shared awareness of our interdependence.

As a step toward that goal, UCM will host its third annual Interfaith Peace Walk at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Walkers will convene at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd at 54 University Terrace. Participants are encouraged to bring their own candles for the candlelight vigil that will talk place at the culmination of the walk.
The group will continue the walk's established tradition by passing by many of the uptown faith communities.

After making its way by the First United Methodist Church, Athens First Presbyterian, First Christian Church, Hillel, St, Paul's Catholic Church, Christ Lutheran Church and Christ the King University Parish, the group will end the walk in front of the Islamic Center on Stewart Street.

There, a member of the Muslim Student Association will share words of welcome accompanied by a candlelight vigil and a shared song.

"This walk is to communicate to our Muslim friends that they are valued, respected and welcomed members of our community," Young said.

The walk, which has attracted hundreds of students and community members the past two years, is a "visible, tangible" representative of the Better Together Campaign. The national campaign is an effort taking place on more than 150 college campuses to build community across faith lines through shared experiences and community service.

Young said he recognizes that this year, the conflict is Syria and strong political opinions about it are on the forefront of a lot of peoples' minds. For this reason, he said he hopes that participants leave the walk having had a powerful experience and having gained some insight to the possibility of community across faith traditions, with emphasis on the common desire for peaceful relationships among nations and people.

"I hope that what they see and participate in is an image that they carry with them," Young said. "People of different faiths acting together on a common concern."