Over 50 people came together with little knowledge of what to expect besides a delicious buffet lunch at Reza’s in Oak Brook, Illinois. Judging by the responses everyone was more than pleased. Here’s a synopsis.
In my welcome I reminded everyone that we were celebrating the 85th Anniversary of the signing in Paris, France of the Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war. When this pact was ratified the following year it became the supreme law of the land. The number of participating countries has grown from 15 to over 80 today. Now all we have to do is to learn how to obey it.
Steve Jackson led us in a short prayer. Then, table by table we chose foods from an extraordinary array of delicious Mediterranean cuisine.
After dinner the program started with a keynote address by Dr. Terrance Rynne, author of Gandhi & Jesus: The Saving Power of Nonviolence and founder of the Marquette University Center for Peacebuilding. Leaving his prepared notes aside, Rynne talked about how most of us including himself learned our history in the framework of wars. But he said modern historians are tired of this approach and are now beginning to rewrite history, including our throwing off the yoke of British domination, by researching the multitude of nonviolent movements that helped shape today’s nations. Telling story after story about the fruits of nonviolent resistance he gave examples of recent research that indicated changes brought by nonviolence over the past century were twice as effective as those involving violence. What an amazing way to set the stage for honoring the authors of the 5 best essays on: How Can We Obey the Law Against War?
WSFPC Servant Leaders acted as proxies and accepted an engraved Plaque and a framed Certificate for each of you. For the three-way tie for Third Place:
- Karen Jackson accepted for Phillip A. Tolentino and read the response that he sent us.
- I did the same for Mark Miller, and
- David Karcher accepted for Matt Levin.
- My wife, Katherine Goetz, accepted the Second Place Award for Katherine Pepe.
Isobel Michaud from Wheaton, Illinois then accepted her First Place Award including a Plaque, Certificate and a check for $1,000. Although only 16 years old she spoke with grace and confidence. Her parents were beaming.
Following these award presentations the WSFPC Servant Leaders passed out a Peace Essay Contest Booklet containing the five winning essays to all luncheon attendees. Each of you will receive one with your awards. They are in the mail.
Rev. Gene Birmingham, WSFPC treasurer, closed the meeting by leading us in prayer and song: All we are saying is give peace a chance.