‘Peace transcends divisions. It’s bigger than the things that divide us.’

Courtesy Photo Above, Boys and Girls Club of Alpena Executive Director Bradley Somers, on left, and Ginny Titus, on right, pose with the peace pole Titus painted, which will be installed and dedicated at the Boys and Girls Club on Thursday.

ALPENA ­– Unity with all humanity and nature is the focus of the 13th Annual 30 Days of Peace, which starts today.

The month-long event is sponsored by the Alpena Peace Coalition, in memory of Sr. Lisa Marie Lazio.

This year features several special speakers and two peace pole dedications, as well as a student art contest going on now through Oct. 4. The awards for that contest will be presented at noon on Oct. 11, concluding the 30 Days of Peace.

Today and every morning, Tuesday through Friday, a Prayer for Peace will be held at 9 a.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pastor John Shipman’s office. Today and each Wednesday during the 30 days, a Peace Liturgy will be held at noon at Trinity Episcopal.

Tonight at 7 p.m. is an opening service, A United Vision of Peace, at First Congregational United Church of Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Bob Case, Pastor Emeritus of First Congregational UCC, said it is fitting that this service about peace and unity falls on the 18th anniversary of the fall of the twin towers in New York City. He said people from 60 different nations and many religions were under attack that day, and we all must unite with a common goal to move toward a peaceful future.

Tonight’s service will feature speakers from different religions, including Christianity, Islam, Bahaism, and Judaism.

“We are giving them about three to five minutes for them to share a major pronouncement from their tradition,” Case said. “The idea is to show that all of these religions are interested in peace, and all of us are interested in justice, and all of us are interested in doing the right thing. And, there may be differences amongst us, but we can all unite around a vision of peace.”

He said opening a dialogue will help us discover our similarities and learn that “our humanity binds us together.”

“The image that I like to use is a patchwork quilt,” Case said. “A patchwork quilt is beautiful because it is different. And it has a single thread that unites all of the patches. For us, that’s love and peace.”

He said agnostics and atheists have the same goals in mind as well, and we all need to listen to and respect each other.

“We’re all learning from each other,” he added. “That doesn’t mean we have to agree, but it means we respect and we listen to one another, and that’s part of the peace-making process itself.”

“Peace transcends divisions,” said Carol Skiba, coordinator of the 30 Days of Peace. “It’s bigger than the things that divide us.”

A colorful Peace Pole painted by the Rev. Ginny Titus will be dedicated at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Boys and Girls Club of Alpena.

“It starts with our youth,” said Bradley Somers, executive director of The Boys and Girls Club of Alpena. “Peace and love are two things we work really hard on to teach these kids. … This is one way to have a unified message for all kids. We are so honored to be a part of this.”

He said the peace pole will be a conversation piece.

“It gives us an opportunity to talk with the kids and parents about why it’s important to talk about peace and love, and to understand each other and to be as one. Peace is a really important message.”

Titus designed the peace pole with the children in mind.

“I decided first to have 12 young people represent 12 different countries around the world,” Titus said.

Countries include Denmark, Iran, England, Italy, countries of Africa, Nepal, U.S.A., Pine Ridge Reservation South Dakota, and five others.

“They circle the pole holding hands,” Titus noted.

Quotations on the pole include song lyrics from John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “Give Peace A Chance,” a statement by Albert Einstein, and others.

“My favorite is ‘a smile translates in any language,'” Titus said. “My hope is that the youth will give their generation the peacemakers that are always needed in the world.”

“She is a very wonderful person who really believes in the peace process,” Somers said of Titus. “This peace pole has Ginny’s essence.”

“It’s alive,” Skiba said of the peace pole, which tells a story with its detailed pictures and quotations, all from the creative mind of Titus. “She is just like a fresh spring that keeps bringing up fresh water. She just gets ideas, and they keep coming.”

Titus credited Jim DesRocher and Duffy Gorski for installing the pole at the new location.

Another component that will involve students is the 30 Days of Peace Contest, which began at the start of this school year. The contest, open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade, allows for any creative original work pertaining to the topic, “Heal the Earth and Save All Life.” Unique creations could be in the form of an essay, poster, drawing, collage, kiln-fired sculpture, painting, cartoon, diorama, photograph, dance presented in a video, song, film, drama in a video, peace-themed jewelry or clothing, or a letter to a person who could help with world peace. Entries are due Oct. 4, winners will be announced Oct. 7, and awards will be presented at noon on Oct. 11.

Peace Contest rules and forms are available at area schools. For more information, or to donate to help cover the cost of speakers, events and transportation, call Skiba at 989-916-7049.

30 Days of Peace schedule of events

The 13th Annual 30 Days of Peace starts today and goes through Oct. 11. Here are the planned events.

¯ Today: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pastor John Shipman’s office (repeats daily, Tuesday through Friday); Noon — Peace Liturgy at Trinity Episcopal (repeats each Wednesday); 7 p.m. — A United Vision of Peace at First Congregational United Church of Christ.

¯ Thursday: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; 5 p.m. — Dedication of the Peace Pole at the Boys and Girls Club of Alpena.

¯ Friday: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace.

¯ Sunday: 2 p.m. — PFAS: A Clear and Present Danger, presented by Dr. Kirk McAnsh, at Alpena County Library.

¯ Tuesday: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; Noon — Dedication and Blessing of Alzheimer’s Garden and Peace Pole at Alpena Senior Citizens Center.

¯ Wednesday, Sept. 18: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; Noon — Peace Liturgy at Trinity Episcopal.

¯ Thursday, Sept. 19: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; 7 p.m. — The Fate of the Great Lakes, with Dave Dempsey at Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

¯ Friday, Sept. 20: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace.

¯ Saturday, Sept. 21: The United Nations International Day of Peace.

¯ Sunday, Sept. 22: 2 p.m. — A Time for Humanity with Sr. Ardeth Platte, OP, and Sr. Carol Gilbert, OP, at All Saints Parish.

¯ Tuesday, Sept. 24: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace.

¯ Wednesday, Sept. 25: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; Noon — Peace Liturgy at Trinity Episcopal.

¯ Thursday, Sept. 26: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace.

¯ Friday, Sept. 27: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace.

¯ Sunday, Sept. 29: 2 p.m. — Youth Celebrate Life Concert, First United Methodist Church.

¯ Tuesday, Oct. 1: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace.

¯ Wednesday, Oct. 2: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; Noon — Peace Liturgy at Trinity Episcopal.

¯ Thursday, Oct. 3: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace.

¯ Friday, Oct. 4: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; 7 p.m. — Gospel Singers at Trinity Episcopal; Student Peace Contest ends today.

¯ Saturday, Oct. 5: 9 a.m. to noon — Blessing of the Animals, St. Paul Lutheran Church parking lot.

¯ Sunday, Oct. 6: Peace Contest Exhibit displayed all week at the Alpena Mall; 7 p.m. — Peace Concert at St. Anne Catholic Church.

¯ Tuesday, Oct. 8: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; 7 p.m. — Sacred Creation presentation at Alpena Community of Christ.

¯ Wednesday, Oct. 9: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; Noon — Peace Liturgy at Trinity Episcopal.

¯ Thursday, Oct. 10: 9 a.m. — Prayer for Peace; 6 p.m. — Refugees or Criminals: A Look at El Salvador, by Professor Tim Kuehnlein at Alpena Community College’s Granum Theatre.

¯ Friday, Oct. 11: Noon — Peace Contest awards ceremony with the Rev. Bill McClure and Mayor Matt Waligora at the Alpena Mall.