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Peace Is a Journey; Not a Destination - Let’s Walk Together

Posted: October 10 2019 at 11:57 AM
Author: Rev. Robert E. Biekman, NIC Urban Ministry Coordinator


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Participants practice tai chi, yoga and massage therapy at the "Passports to Peace" event in Coopers Park in Chicago.

On a balmy and breezy Saturday in early September the fragrance of peace filled the air. The scent of patchouli and music of meditation greeted more than 200 residents as they entered Cooper Park located in the historic Maple Park neighborhood on Chicago’s far south side. They journeyed to this urban ashram for a “Passport 2 Peace.”

Through a series of strategic, community engagement conversations Maple Park residents acknowledged that community safety was their number one quality of life concern. Out of these conversations a local design team composed of residents, the Maple Park Neighborhood Association, Chicago Police 5th District CAPs, the Chicago Park District and area communities of faith was created and “Passport 2 Peace” was born. Significant collaborative input from the Goldin Institute, Chicago Peace Fellows and the Chicago Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) Collaborative's Neighborhood Interns helped shaped the event.

The Maple Park "Passport 2 Peace" Neighborhood Summit is one of three such events across the southside. The concept behind "Passport 2 Peace" is that peace is an “inside job” and begins within each of us. "Passport 2 Peace" is an inward journey to promote the place of peace that resides in every person and an outward journey to build community.

Massage therapy, meditation, yoga, and tai chi demonstrations and reflexology stations staffed by certified experts provided the tickets on the journey to inner peace. One participant remarked, “it was amazing to see children doing tai chi.”

As participants moved from station to station, Peace Ambassadors clad in sky blue t-shirts applied stickers to individual’s passports and served as hosts for the event. The children played on the playground and received face painting while the adults explored their inner peace.

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NIC Urban Ministry Coordinator Rev. Robert Biekman (left) and community leaders take part in promoting peace in Chicago's neighborhoods.

After sharing a community meal, to promote community peace and facilitate relationship building, more than 50 people participated in three Inter-generational Peace Circles led by Nehemiah Trinity Rising, a grassroots consultancy specializing in restorative practices leadership training.

On the Sunday prior to "Passport 2 Peace", a Peace Makers’ Sabbath Celebration was held at Maple Park United Methodist Church. The event organizers were invited to come and pray for peace. The Peace Makers’ Sabbath encourages participants to pray, preach, and act for peace. "Passport 2 Peace" was the action step.

"Passport 2 Peace" was funded by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust, Fund for Safer & Peaceful Communities and supported by 23 organizations serving the Greater Roseland Community of Chicago. The Chicago ATI Collaborative is funded in part by a General Board of Church & Society, Ethnic Local Church Concerns Grant.

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