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Interfaith Peace Camp Promotes Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution Skills for Area Children

Posted on June 24th, 2010

"Building Bridges, Building Peace" is the theme for the third annual Interfaith Peace Camp to be held at EMU June 22-July 2.

annual Interfaith Peace Camp at EMU
Children at the 2009 Interfaith Peace Camp enjoyed learning to knot comforters as part of a service project.

Hosted by EMU’s new Center for Interfaith Engagement, Abraham’s Tent, campers will focus on building friendships and understanding across the Abrahamic faith traditions.

The ‘Abrahamic faiths’

The "Abrahamic faiths," Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all claim the Old Testament figure Abraham as a major patriarch in their monotheistic religions which all worship the same God.

Participating groups

Members from The Islamic Association of Shenandoah Valley (IASV), Beth El Congregation, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Valley Friends Meeting, Park View Mennonite Church and Shalom Mennonite Congregation, with administrative support from Abraham’s Tent, are organizing and sponsoring the camp for rising first- through sixth-graders from the Valley.

annual Interfaith Peace Camp at EMU
During a group gathering time, the children fashioned trees from pipe cleaners which became part of an on-going project throughout the week.

Interfaith Peace Camp was first launched as a three-day pilot program in 2008. Children, parents and community members, gave such overwhelmingly positive feedback that last year’s camp was expanded from three to five days and involved more faith communities in the planning, according to Vesna Hart, co-chair of the peace camp planning committee.

Tools that transform conflict

This year’s camp curriculum will pair stories and lessons from the three Abrahamic faith communities with practical conflict transformation skills, Hart said.

"With so much misinformation surrounding all three of the Abrahamic faiths, it’s important to teach tools that will help to dispel common myths without damaging new relationships that emerge from interfaith opportunities," she added.

Zeinab Hassouna of the IASV noted that by teaching children skills to handle interfaith conflict, this will encourage parents, other family members and friends to be more openly engaged on topics that might tend to be sensitive.

Exploring other cultures

Camp activities will utilize large and small group work including recreational, artistic, dramatic and musical activities. Other opportunities to promote interfaith understanding and peacebuilding will come through sharing of cultural foods and open time for exploration and inquiry.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of Interfaith Peace Camp week, field trips are scheduled to Beth El synagogue, the IASV mosque and to Trinity Presbyterian Church. Campers and family members will gather Thursday evening for a potluck to celebrate interfaith peacemaking and share their experiences.

More info

For more information or to schedule an interview with a planning committee member, contact Gretchen Maust at 540-432-4674 or gretchen.maust@emu.edu or Vesna Hart at vesna.hart@gmail.com

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