Call for Cessation of Violence at Millennium's Dawn

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Is world peace possible? William Swing, Episcopal bishop of California, thinks so. He and other members of the United Religions Initiative, an international consortium of religious leaders, have even scheduled the first day of peace: Dec. 31, 1999.

They are organizing 72 Hours of Interfaith Peacebuilding, which calls for a cessation of all violence in homes, communities and countries from Dec. 31, 1999, to Jan. 2, 2000.

'We would like there to be a worldwide three-day cease-fire so we could end the millennium in peace and start the next one thousand years in peace,' Swing said. 'During that time of cease-fire, we would like people to use that in a constructive way of peace making across hard border lines.'

Some interfaith peace-building initiatives have already been planned. For example:

  • In Washington, D.C., citywide interfaith services focusing on reconciliation, celebration and new spiritual visions will be held during the 72 hours.
  • In Ethiopia, a United Religions group will plant a Peace Pole and focus on reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  • In Pakistan, the Catholic Bishops National Commission for Christian Muslim Relations are organizing a March for Peace from one end of the country to the other, a distance of nearly 1,500 miles.

The peace-building mission is one of the first projects of The United Religions Initiative, which will culminate next year in the creation of United Religions, an international organization with representatives of all faiths whose purpose will include advocating love, supporting freedom of worship and maintaining peace among the world?s religions.

The seed for United Religions was planted in Swing?s mind after he was asked to speak at a service in honor of the United Nations 50th anniversary. An idea lingered, he said: if political leaders could work together daily for peace, why couldn't religious leaders?

In founding the United Religions Initiative, said Swing, most of the approval came from the the religious grassroots. Religious leaders were less willing to participate because United Religions creates a level playing field in which no religion predominates or controls, he said.

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