If participants in this year's 30 Days of Peace take anything away from attending one of the multitude of planned activities, Sister Mary Hughes hopes it is inner peace.
"My hope is that initially it will help people as individuals to find a peace within themselves and that will be spread to their relatives, their friends and their neighbors," Hughes said. "If we have an atmosphere of peace within our community, it will spread. It will affect the leaders we choose for local and state, and our church and civic groups. It will affect the activities in the community and promote wholesome living."
This marks the sixth consecutive year that a 30 Days of Peace observation has taken place locally. Presented by the Alpena Coalition for Peace, it is supported by many of the Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic and First Congregational churches (LARCC) in the community.
Three key organizers of the 30 Days of Peace initiative in Alpena were invited last year to present at a state Pax Christi conference. The women include, from left, Sister Mary Hughes, Sally Buza and Carol Skiba.
From simple prayer services and a contest for area students to guest speakers, films, panel discussions, music events and poetry readings, the emphasis is always on topics related to peace. Carol Skiba, who has been heavily involved with the planning process from the beginning, is amazed that each year, no matter who she asks, they are always willing to participate in some way.
"No one has said 'no' to me," Skiba said. "I am very much humbled by that."
Over the years, the event has gained such traction that Skiba, along with two other key organizers, Hughes and Sally Buza, were asked last year to speak at a state convention and lead a workshop on how to develop a 30 Days of Peace initiative. As a result of their presentation, at least one other city in the state of Michigan is beginning its own 30-day peace observance.
First week of activities
for 30 Days of Peace
- Sept. 12 Violence Against the Elderly seminar, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m., First United Methodist Church
- Sept. 12 Peace Liturgy, noon, Trinity Episcopal Church
- Sept. 14 An Evening of Poetry, Readings, Blues & Jazz, 7-9 p.m., Cabin Creek Coffee
- Sept. 16 Beginning of 30 Days of Peace with LARCC opening prayer, 7 p.m., Grace Lutheran Church
Two events are planned locally for this week, although the official opening prayer service is set for Sept. 16. The 30 Days of Peace runs from Sept. 12 to Oct. 12.
The Alpena Coalition for Peace is encouraging the community to attend a "Violence Against the Elderly" seminar sponsored by NEMCSA and held Sept. 12 at First United Methodist Church from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Pre-registration is required for this free event. To register, call 358-4630.
Also scheduled for Sept. 12 is the first of five peace liturgies to be said by the Rev. Bruce Michaud at noon at Trinity Episcopal Church. Michaud already does a liturgy for his congregation each Wednesday throughout the calendar year, but during the upcoming 30 Days of Peace, he makes sure the focus is on peace.
"It's very easy to do a peace liturgy under the auspices of the friends of peace," said Michaud, adding that the Wednesday liturgies he ordinarily presents often center on any feast days being celebrated within the church and that invariably the Scripture readings selected for that time allude to peace in one way or another.
As with many of the others involved in the local peace efforts, Skiba is thankful for the willingness of Michaud to participate.
"Bruce has been doing this for six years," Skiba said. "He is always a person who is willing to speak for an occasion. He always says 'yes.' He's a strong supporter of working for peace."
On Sept. 14, An Evening of Poetry, Readings, Blues and Jazz will be held from 7-9 at Cabin Creek Coffee in downtown Alpena. Poems and readings promoting peace will be given by representatives of the local Pax Christi, a Catholic organization that strives to create a world that reflects the peace of Christ. Other volunteers also will be do readings, and a jazz band led by Pastor Owen Williams on baritone sax, Kat Tomaszewski on alto sax, Bunny Lyon on keyboard and Mary Ann Hubbard on flute will present music.
"People come to this event who never come to anything else given by LARCC or Pax Christi, so if you have different things, you get different people," said Hughes of the wide diversity of events planned for the entire month.
The Sept. 16 opening prayer service is coordinated by Hughes, who also is the coordinator of the local LARCC group. That service will be held at 7 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church. Clergy within LARCC, as well as other clergy within the community, will be participating.
Pastor Shirley Ross-Jones, the new pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, will preach the gospel from the beatitudes of St. Michael. Lyon, a member of Grace Lutheran, will provide the music for the prayer service.
The public is welcome to attend any of the events taking place during the 30 Days of Peace.