“This year’s 30 Days of Peace observance takes on more significance than ever before.” (Alpena News 11/13/13) Alpena Pax Christi (including the Alpena Peace Coalition) felt this challenge more than ever as they planned a month long calendar of activities that revolve around the need for peace locally, nationally and around the world. The 7th annual 2013 Thirty Days officially began on Sept. 11 with a mayoral proclamation on behalf of the city of Alpena to recognize its importance. Following are some of the events:
- A LARCC opening service in the style of Taize was led at Trinity Episcopal Church
- The First Congregational United Church of Christ offered contemplative services on four consecutive Mondays. These reflective services included soft music, readings on non-violence and prayers for peace
- A Taize service with music and periods of silence focused on Sacred Creation was prayed at Trinity Episcopal Church
- Noon liturgies each Wednesday at Trinity Episcopal Church wove awareness of the need for peace with global events as they were happening.
- The 7th annual Peace Contest was held for area students. The month long contest ended with a formal ceremony hosted by All Saints Catholic School where the mayor of Alpena presented students awards.
- All Saints Catholic School sponsored a “Penny Drop For Peace” during the 30 Days and students presented $75.00 to the Alpena Peace Coalition at the student awards ceremony.
- A Friday coffeehouse jazz and blues night featured student project winners who presented their original works to the public.
- Popcorn, movies and discussions were held on Friday evenings at Grace Lutheran Church.
- St. Paul Lutheran Women’s Interfaith Study Group presented a well-attended panel discussion on peace and unity
- The crowning event of the 30 Days was the 7th annual Peace Concert hosted by St. Anne’s Catholic Church. Area musicians offered expressions of peace through their music to a church that was filled to capacity. Guest performer Gemini, a Christian folk artist/composer/singer from Toronto, Canada performed her second year at the concert.
The Alpena Newspaper continued its overwhelming support of the 30 Days events by featuring weekly interviews of Peace Coalition members who explained the events of the coming week and their significance. In addition, local television coverage of events kept the community aware of the 30 Days. The Alpena Peace Coalition observed how fortunate they are in continuing to have such great media coverage and community support. Each year the events have grown in popularity and attendance.
The Peace Coalition has received many expressions of gratitude. The 3rd grade teacher of a winning entry called to report that the young boy chose to use his $25 prize not on himself but to purchase three books on bullying which he donated to the school library. Another supporter who attended many of the events summed it up beautifully in a thank you card. She wrote, “You people give us hope and assurance that this world is a good place. Thank you for doing what you do.”
(The core planning group for the Alpena Peace Coalition’s 30 Days of Peace initiative includes, seated from left, Sally Buza, Sylvia Owens, Sister Catherine Anderson and Jim DesRocher. Standing are Sister Mary Hughes, Carol Skiba, Rev. Tom Orth and Duffy Gorski. Not pictured are Rev. Bruce Michaud, Rev. Bob Case and Betsy Adamus),