Pinwheels for Peace
ELCA schools advocate for peace through art project
Each year Leif Ericson Day School shares worship and activities centered around recognition of the United Nations International Day of Peace with their Brooklyn neighbors.
On September 19, 2007, two days before the International Day of Peace, students in nursery through grade eight gathered in the morning for a time of worship. The altar area was adorned by two large tree branches bedecked in colorful student-crafted paper doves as symbols of peace. Student-composed prayer petitions for peace were read by student worship leaders and three peace poles, constructed by students for the school’s 2005 Peace Day celebrations, were rededicated at the close of worship. The colorful poles bear over 200 thumb prints, stamped in paint and ink, topped by streamers proclaiming “May peace prevail on earth” in over 45 languages. Following worship, students new to the school pressed their thumb prints onto the vibrant poles adding their mark in support of peace.
Students and faculty engaged in awareness activities for peace and nonviolence throughout the school day. A “Pledge of Nonviolence” was recited by students and posted in each classroom. Individual “Pledge of Nonviolence” declarations were sent home with each child.
At the end of the school day, a public ceremony was held in the school’s garden. Each classroom teacher read a section of the “School Pledge of Nonviolence” and class representatives shared students’ messages of peace inscribed on the student-created pinwheels. Strains of “Peace Like a River,” “Peace is Flowing Like a River,” and “Awesome God,” led by student singers and musicians, accompanied the planting of over 200 “Pinwheels for Peace,” joining an estimated 1.2 million pinwheels spinning for peace throughout the world, in the courtyard garden.
Strains of “Peace Like a River,” “Peace is Flowing Like a River,” and “Awesome God,” led by student singers and musicians, accompanied the planting of over 200 Pinwheels for Peace.
Culminating the day’s events, an evening worship service for peace was held. Elements from the ELCA resource “Word and Prayer for Peace” and a responsive reading of the “Family Pledge for Nonviolence,” challenging families to work toward cultivating a climate of peace within their homes, shaped the worship. Attendees tied red ribbons on the outside fence and signs explaining the presence of the ribbons and the pinwheels were posted inviting the community-at-large to join in taking the “Pledge for Nonviolence.”
The call for peace and nonviolence did not end with these events. The school actively addresses the call for peace and nonviolence within the school community throughout the school year. During the school’s weekly mid-week worship service, petitions from the pledge are discussed and reflected upon. Each classroom teacher performs a monthly “peace check” to assess the students’ progress towards meeting the goals set forth by the pledge. In addition, all offerings received during the school’s mid-week worship services go to support organizations that promote peace and nonviolence.
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For more information about Leif Ericson Day School, visit leds.home.mindspring.com.
Written by Rita Pihra-Majurinen. Photographs by Sheldon Warfield and Amanda Levin.