Walking for peace

The 2015 Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation had a lot of targets to which its participants could direct good vibes, locally and globally.

Improving police-community relations. Ongoing strife in the Middle East. Missing girls, be they from Philadelphia, China, Nigeria or elsewhere.

Kathy Cruz  of the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) paused behind the Village of Arts and Humanities to munch on a few cookies and contemplate cultivating a more peaceful world -- with PCHR as a starting point.

Ezekiel Mathur and Kathy Cruz of the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) paused behind the Village of Arts and Humanities to munch on a few cookies and contemplate cultivating a more peaceful world — with PCHR as a starting point.

But more than anything, the 500 people of all ages, colors, and backgrounds who gathered at the Al Aqsa Mosque in North Philadelphia on Sunday came together to learn more about each other, intersections of faith and values, and how they can work in concert to cultivate greater harmony among their respective neighbors and within their communities during the 12th annual event.

Patricia Coyne, veteran PCHR community relations team member, has been a longtime presence in helping to bring this event to life, from co-planning to securing required permits. This year, she helped entice a new walk participant, Ezekiel Mathur, the newest member of the PCHR community relations team, who described the event as “amazing.”

Bayan Maxwell Toloubadei shared not only this sign but also his personal goals and observations of peace with walk participants, including PCHR's Ezekiel Mathur.

Bayan Maxwell Toloubadei shared not only this sign but also his personal goals and observations of peace with walk participants, including PCHR’s Ezekiel Mathur.

For two hours, there were exchanges of ideas and culture, as participants learned about faith dialogues in the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu and Baha’i traditions and then broke bread together when the walk culminated a mile later at West Kensington Ministry in Norris Square. What arises at day’s end are a stronger, deeper sense of humanity and fellowship.

It’s not a bad way to open the work week.

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