Uniting for Peace : Summer 2016 Edinburgh Inter-Faith Peace Occasion

took place at St Mark’s on 5 July. DAVID MCGILL reports.

photo by Heather Tamae Fraser Harris

photo by Heather Tamae Fraser Harris

Contributors to Uniting for Peace - 2016 Annual Interfaith Peace Occasion hosted by Unitarians in Edinburgh on 5 July.

back row: Rev Brian Cooper (Uniting for Peace); David Fraser Harris (Unification Church); Sister Louise Gupta (Brahma Kumaris); Ian Mills (Abraham's Children in Crisis); Rev John & Mrs Joan Miller (United Reform Church); Maureen Hunter (Baha'i)

front row: Rev Maud Robinson (Unitarian); David Merrick (Baha'i); Mrs Nila Joshi (Hindu)         


Edward Carpenter, the ‘highly original’ Dean of Westminster told us that ‘the peace of the world needs to be prayed for by the faiths of the world’, and so a gathering of some fifty souls of different faiths made their contribution in St Marks, the Home of Unitarians in Edinburgh, at the fourteenth annual Edinburgh Inter-Faith Peace Occasion led by the Rev Brian Cooper. Brian is the Churches/Inter-Faith Secretary for ‘Uniting for Peace’.

 In his welcoming address and prayer for peace, Brian reminded us that Peace is distilled into the very essence of all faiths, and to dwell in peace and harmony with each other, and with all Creation, is the ultimate purpose for all humanity. That path to Peace comes to us though from many different directions, and carries with it many different scents and flavours, some of which were evidenton 5 July.

 The evening began with a traditional meditation led by Sister Louisa Gupta of the Brahma Kumaris Spiritual University. This was followed by an interview with Rev John and Joan Miller of the United Reform Church. They had attended the 2015 Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City and Brian invited them to give us some of their observations and thoughts in a Q & A session. In the first musical interlude, Maureen Hunter, of the Baha’i Community, then sang a beautiful traditional melody, accompanying herself on the clarsach. 

Rev Maud Robinson, the host minister, read us a poem for peace (The Place Where We Are Right by Yehuda Amichai) followed by a chant from Mrs Nila Joshifrom the Edinburgh Hindu Mandir. Brian Cooper then led us in prayers from different faith traditions. David Merrick shared a peace message from Bahá'u'lláh, and this took us to a very moving visual presentation from Ian Mills, Founder/Director of the children’s charity ‘Abraham’s Children in Crisis’. Fittingly based on Holy Island, ACIC is a small, apolitical charity dedicated to helping children in the Holy Land solely on the basis of need, and not on the faith of the child. It seeks to care for the education, health and welfare of children in crisis, and to help them achieve their full potential. (www.acic.org.uk). A collection for ACIC was taken at the end of the service. 

Maureen Hunter then gave us a second haunting rendition on the clarsach, before David Fraser Harris, from the Universal Peace Federation, told us about his work in Syria, and led the assembly in a special prayer for an end to the suffering in that senseless war.  

After two hours when Peace reigned supreme, Brian Cooper drew the assembly to a close by leading us in the Inter-Faith Affirmation for Peace and the Universal Prayer for Peace, which concludes ‘Let Peace fill our Heart, our World, our Universe. Peace, Peace, Peace. You can’t say it often enough, or for long enough.