A community movement that began last month will continue through the summer, with the next event scheduled for Wednesday, according to Galloway Memorial Episcopal Church’s the Rev. Gaye Brown.
The idea came about after a meeting with members of church’s leadership. “I asked our vestry, ‘What’s our mission statement?’” said Brown, who remembered someone speaking up with a verse from Micah 6:8 that states “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.”
“Once someone said that scripture it was like a light went off,” said Brown, who takes the command of doing justice personally. “That’s really where my heart is.”
Once the goal of the group was cemented, the next phase of their planning was implementation. After discussing how they can lead the community in gathering for justice and mercy under the humbleness of God, a member of the congregation pitched an idea. “Someone said, ‘we’ve got the Peace Pole and we’re not doing much about it,’” said Brown. “So that’s how we came up with the Peace Jam.”
The Peace Jam is a community event where anyone is welcome to gather and promote peace through music and prayer. During the event, hot dogs and other food items are provided, as well as musical instruments including tambourines. Community members are encouraged to bring their own instruments as well.
The first Peace Jam was held on June 10 and, according to Brown’s estimate, about 40 people or more from the community were in attendance. “People brought their own instruments and we had a box of things like tambourines and rattlers,” said Brown, who enjoyed the fellowship.
Professional musicians from the community also attended, bringing with them banjos, fiddles and a cello. The music ranged from improvisational to bluegrass and everything in between.
The Peace Pole, located adjacent to the Galloway Memorial Episcopal Church, was constructed last September to promote peace in the community. Featuring several different languages, the pole is inscribed with its message stating “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”
Throughout the year since its inception, the pole has provided a place for the community to gather after major events. Previous gatherings include the unrest following the events that spurred riots in Ferguson, Missouri, Staten Island, New York, and most recently, the shootings at the AME Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine dead.
Community members have enjoyed the opportunity to gather and pray with one another, often finding an outlet in the midst of troubled times. As congregants see contention grow on a regular basis, Brown and other members in the community hope to offer solace and grounds for conflict resolution. Brown, who claims conflict can be a source for growth, has led others in the art of conflict mediation.
“If handled correctly, it can lead to great things,” said Brown. “I’m concerned that we find ways to see each other as children of God, to treat each other with respect and care regardless of their race or sexual orientation.”
The next Peace Jam will take place on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Peace Pole next to Galloway Memorial Episcopal Church. Group organizers encourage attendees to bring musical instruments and a lawn chair. The evening will begin with a litany for peace and then the group will sing and make music together.
Free food and drinks will be served and anyone is welcome to join.
Karen Holbrook may be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.