Join in the journey at Interfailth walk for Peace
by Karen Sapio, Pastor, Claremont Presbyterian Church
Nine years. Hundreds of miles. Thousands of people. Tens of thousands of steps. October 21st will mark the 10th annual Walk for Peace sponsored by the Inland Valley Interfaith Working Group.
This event joins participants from dozens of faith communities—and folks with no particular faith affiliation—in an event that promotes community understanding and bears witness to our mutual resolve to resist the forces of polarization and build relationships that can help bring us all closer to peace.
This year’s Walk will begin October 21 at 4 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Claremont located on North Garey Avenue. From there, participants will walk to Temple Beth Israel on Towne Avenue, and then on to the Claremont United Church of Christ on Harrison Avenue in Claremont.
Each stop will feature brief presentation by community members or musical inspirations for the journey. At the conclusion of the walk there will be a light meal served.
Throughout the event, there will be shuttles available for those who prefer to ride for a portion of the route, or who need transportation back to their cars at the starting point. Pilgrim Place will be providing a “water stop” to help keep walkers well hydrated. The Walk is intended to be intergenerational, so families with young children are encouraged to participate.
For many years, a beloved tradition for this event is for walkers to create peace bracelets. At the beginning of the route, walkers are invited to pick up a small bag of beads in a color that represents their faith tradition. As the walk begins, everyone is encouraged to trade beads with other walkers while sharing something about what their own faith tradition has meant to their commitment to a more peaceful world.
The goal is to collect a full rainbow of colors and have conversations with walkers from a wide spectrum of traditions and perspectives. Some participants who return to this event year after year remark that this is their favorite part of the whole experience.
Claremont’s annual Walk for Peace has been noticed by other communities who have been inspired to initiate their own Peace Walk events and traditions.
Each year the walk is memorable for different reasons. Some years are memorable because the walk provided an opportunity for the community to come together after a divisive national incident such as the Koran burning in Florida in 2010.
Other years, the walk has been memorable for extreme heat, such as the years that only a few dozen walkers braved temperatures of 107 to complete the route.
Every year, however, the best memories of this event are the encounters with new friends, the experience of new sacred spaces, and renewed hope that our community and our country can transcend differences of culture and beliefs to care for one another and work for the good of all.
If you have not had an opportunity to participate in this event, we hope you will join us this year. If you have walked before, we hope you will return to continue the journey toward a more just and peaceful world.