Campus Peace Pole Celebrates ‘Call to Peacebuilding’

EMU dedicated a peace pole as a symbol of its core values and commitment to diversity in a ceremony held Thursday evening, June 17, on campus.

dedication of EMU peace pole
Dr. Anil Solanki of Eastern Mennonite Seminary noted that the peace pole phrase is translated “Let Peace Prevail in the Universe” in his native Hindi language. SPI director Sue Williams is at right. Photo by Lindsey Kolb

The 10-foot-high handcrafted pole with six flat sides proclaims the prayer, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” in 18 language panels. Students in EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) and several faculty-staff persons read the words in the language of their respective countries before the panels were attached to the pole.

Languages displayed on the pole are Swahili, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Korean, Navajo, French, Russian, Japanese, Indonesian, Hindi, Urdu, Amharic, Sesotho, Filipino and German.

A community effort

EMU peace pole dedication
Summer Peacebuilding Institute participant Vera Giantari from Indonesia reads “Let Peace Prevail on Earth” in her language before the panel is attached to the peace pole. Photo by Lindsey Kolb

The pole was erected in a specially-prepared space on the edge of Thomas Plaza in front of the EMU Campus Center.

David Moyer from Mount Solon, Va., a member of Valley Friends Meeting and 2010 graduate of Eastern Mennonite Seminary, donated the milled locust post for the project. The wood was harvested from his personal property.

The idea to erect a peace pole at EMU originated with Sushil Koirala, a participant in an earlier SPI program from Nepal.

Visual reminder of need for peace

“Installing a peace pole on campus provides a visual reminder of the centrality of working toward peace in the mission of the university,” said EMU campus pastor Brian Martin Burkholder, whose campus ministries department coordinated the project.

“A call to peace and peacebuilding are basic to the EMU mission statement, and the language panels on the pole represent the rich cultural diversity of our campus community and broader learning partnerships,” he added.

‘Peacebuilders wherever we are’

EMU President Loren Swartzendruber led a dedicatory prayer, noting that the peace pole will provide “a good reminder as we walk across campus and move out into the world to be peacebuilders wherever we are.”

Sue Williams, SPI director, led a Celtic blessing on attendees, reminding everyone that genuine peacebuilding includes establishing right relationships among people and with the earth.”

The ceremony opened with the singing of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and concluded with “This is my song (oh God of all the nations),” sung to the tune of “Finlandia.”

Funding partnership

Funding for the project came from partner clubs, organizations and EMU departments including: