Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

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A group of more than 100 people marched the streets of Athens to promote peace on Sept. 11, 2017

Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.

Nellis and wife at Hillel

President M. Duane Nellis and his wife Ruthie participated in the seventh annual Interfaith Peace Walk. The couple was among the crowd as the walk stopped at Hillel at Ohio University on Mill Street

Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.

Interfaith walk at night

Interfaith Peace Walk participants hold a candlelight vigil at the Ohio University Islamic Center to close the event each year

Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.

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President Nellis and first lady participate in first Interfaith Peace Walk

Annual event brings community groups together to encourage peace

On the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Better Together at Ohio University and United Campus Ministry hosted the seventh annual Interfaith Peace Walk.

Monday’s event was created to engage people of all faith traditions and philosophical and ethical orientations in action for the common good as a means of building community and trust across religious divisions.

Two of this year’s first-time participants were OHIO’s first couple, President M. Duane Nellis and first lady Ruthie Nellis.

They joined more than 100 people before the walk in front of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd on University Terrace.

Evan Young, the campus minister at United Campus Ministry in Athens, asked the participants to do a few things during the walk.

“As you walk, take the opportunity to talk with people, to connect, to share your dreams about peace and to hear theirs,” Rev. Young said. “Build the relationships that will help us do the work of making peace better together.” 

Before the walk, President Nellis told the walkers why the Interfaith Peace Walk is important.

“This is truly a day of remembrance. It’s important that we all come together as a community as we demonstrate the significance of this day and remember those who lost their lives on 9/11,” President Nellis said.

President Nellis then posed a question to the walkers before answering it. “What can each of us do to be part of the community that makes a difference as we look to the future?” he asked.

“We need to do what we are doing tonight – celebrating what makes us diverse,” President Nellis said. “We are a better University and community by the inclusivity that comes from the spectrum of all the people who are a part of this community and University.”

After the opening remarks, the walkers traveled from the church through College Green, down Court Street, then down Mill Street before stopping at the Ohio University Islamic Center on Stewart Street. Each year, the walk ends there with words of encouragement from several Muslim students and Rev. Young, a candlelight vigil and the singing of inspirational songs.

The only stop during the walk came at Hillel at Ohio University on Mill Street, where a small group of Jewish students greeted the walkers and led the group in song.

One of the student walkers was Ohio University freshman Shelby Nemhauser from Atlanta. She said she attended the walk because her mother is a rabbi who has dedicated her life to education and interfaith work.

“Ever since I was a little kid, she was always teaching me about diversity and learning from other cultures,” Nemhauser said. “It’s important to learn from others about peace and to create peace.”

Precious Oluwasanya, a senior from Xenia, Ohio, who was representing the Global Ambassadors in the Ohio University Office of Undergraduate Admissions at the march, said one of the reasons she participated in the walk for the first time was to recruit new Global Ambassadors.

“We thought this was a great opportunity to meet other people who are interested in forming a global community of different faiths and cultures,” Oluwasanya said. “It was a very good event that was both touching and warming. My favorite part of the night was the singing. Not everyone has a great musical voice, but everyone tried.”

Vicki Seefeldt-West, senior assistant director of international recruitment in Undergraduate Admissions, said the Global Ambassadors canceled their executive committee meeting to participate in the walk.

“It was a wonderful thing for our international students to participate in,” Seefeldt-West said. “They were very excited about it.”

This walk marked the start of this year's Better Together campaign at Ohio University, which is still in the planning stages. Students interested in working on the campaign should "like" the Better Together at Ohio University Facebook page or email ucm@midohio.twcbc.com to get connected.

For more information on the Peace Walk and other upcoming interfaith events, email Rev. Evan Young at evan@ucmathens.org.