September 2017 WATERritual

International Day of Peace:
Lifting Up Women Peacemakers

By Diann L. Neu and the WATER Staff


Preparation: Place on an altar table covered with a cloth: peace cranes, greenery (olive branches!), 13 candles and matches, a globe, olives, harvest bread, apples, honey, and drinks. Make copies of pictures of the women peacemakers named here and put them around the room.

Naming the Circle

Welcome to tonight’s celebration of International Day of Peace: Lifting Up Women Peacemakers. Tonight we remember and reflect upon the courage and wisdom of women past, present, and future who advocate for peace in the face of war, violence, and injustice. Their actions, words, and symbols inspire us to live more peaceful and just lives. They challenge us to take action for peace in our families, communities, neighborhoods, and world.

To create our circle, please speak your name, state where you are geographically, and say, “I strive to be a peacemaker.”

Song: “Paz, Queremos Paz,” Traditional, source unknown

Paz, queremos paz, y libertad en este mundo. (2x)

Call to Gather

In 1981, the United Nations passed a unanimous resolution calling for the celebration of an International Day of Peace devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.”

Every year on September 21 people around the world come together to advocate for peace in its many forms.

The theme for 2017 is “Together for Peace: Safety and Dignity for All” to highlight the plight of refugees and migrants in a world fractured by war, borders, discrimination, and exclusion. We come together tonight to honor women of peace, many of whom have given their lives to uphold the safety and dignity each person deserves.

So often our history books exclude the stories of women peacemakers. Tonight we will hear from women who advocate for peace both on global and local levels – women who speak out against suffering and hold communities together in the face of violence. Let us learn by their examples so that we too may be peacemakers and bring peace to our world and universe.

Song: Paz, queremos paz, y libertad en este mundo. (2x)

Words of Women Peacemakers

Let us listen to the wisdom of women peacemakers worldwide. Light a candle after each quote.

Sadako Sasaki of Japan, child lost to atomic war

“I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.” Light a candle.

From the Report from Hiroshima (1961), p. 48

Dorothy Day of the United States, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement

“As we come to know the seriousness of the situation, the war, the racism, the poverty in our world, we come to realize that things will not be changed simply by words or demonstrations. Rather, it’s a question of living one’s life in a drastically different way.” Light a candle.

From Intercultural Competency, Those Whom We Cannot Unsee

Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, Nobel Peace Prize 2014

“Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish.” Light a candle.

From I Am Malala, p. 313 

Anne Frank of Germany and the Netherlands, Holocaust victim

“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” Light a candle.

From The Diary of Anne Frank (July 15, 1944)

Bree Newsome of the United States, artist and human rights activist

“You come against me with hatred, repression, and violence. I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today.” Light a candle.

From the Huffington Post,Activist Bree Newsome Reveals Staggering Faith During Confederate
Flag Action

Wangari Maathai of Kenya, Nobel Peace Prize 2004

“Unless we properly manage resources like forests, water, land, minerals and oil, we will not win the fight against poverty. And there will not be peace. Old conflicts will rage on and new resource wars will erupt unless we change the path we are on.” Light a candle.

From the New York Times, “Trees for Democracy

Berta Cáceres of Honduras, environmental activist and human rights fighter

“I cannot freely walk on my territory or swim in the sacred river and I am separated from my children because of the threats. I cannot live in peace, I am always thinking about being killed or kidnapped. But I refuse to go into exile. I am a human rights fighter and I will not give up this fight.” Light a candle.

From the Guardian,Remembering Bert Cáceres

Mary McLeod Bethune of the United States, educator and Civil Rights activist

“The drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his or her worth.” Light a candle.

Found here

Olive Schreiner of South Africa, writer and anti-war campaigner

“No tinsel of trumpets and flags will ultimately seduce women into the insanity of recklessly destroying life, or gild the willful taking of life with any other name than that of murder, whether it be the slaughter of the million or of one by one.” Light a candle.

From Women and Labor, p. 176

Rozina of Iraq, refugee who survived ISIS

“I would like to be an activist and talk about women’s rights. I have finished sixth grade and would like to finish my studies but I can’t continue in the camp. The camp is my home and my lifeline for now.” Light a candle.

From an interview by the Global Fund for Women, here 

Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, Nobel Peace Prize 2011

“All of our religious teachings have similar rules, such as a commitment to peace and nonviolence, and care for women and widows and orphans. What has destroyed a coming together is man’s interpretation of religion. In most societies, today where wars and conflicts are taking place, a lot of those involved in these particular issues have some kind of link.” Light a candle.

In an interview with the Progressive, found here

Mother Teresa of India, Nobel Peace Prize 1979

“Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other…” Light a candle.

From Where There is Love, There is God, p. 330

Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala, Nobel Peace Prize 1992

“Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples.” Light a candle.

Found here

Song: “Peace Before Us,” words and music by David Haas ©1987

Peace before us, peace behind us, peace under our feet.
Peace within us, peace over us, let all around us be peace.

Reflection on Women Peacemakers

What women peacemakers spoke to your mind and heart as you listened? (Pause) This globe represents these women and women peacemakers around the world. We will pass the globe around and when you receive it, name a woman peacemaker and tell us how she has touched you. (Naming)

Song: Peace Before Us

Blessing of Solidarity with Peacemakers

As the world needs Earth, air, water and sun, so the world needs Women Peacemakers. In solidarity with women around the world, let us bless four foods to symbolize our unity.

We unite with you, Women Peacemakers of the South, and share bread to nourish our struggles.

We unite with you, Women Peacemakers of the East, and share olives to anoint ourselves and others with peace.

We unite with you, Women Peacemakers of the North, and share apples dipped in honey to symbolize our shared harvest.

We unite with you, Women Peacemakers of the West, and share drink to renew our strength when we are tired.

Let us eat and drink together in peace.

Sending Forth and Greeting of Peace

As we go forth to bring peace to our world, let us promise to speak out against injustice everywhere and witness for peace. Our response is: Witness for Peace!

Speak out against hostility towards migrants and refugees…

Response: Witness for Peace!

Speak out against war in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and wherever violence occurs…

Response: Witness for Peace!

Speak out against the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar…

Response: Witness for Peace!

Speak out against President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program…

Response: Witness for Peace!

Speak out against human causes of climate change and stand in solidarity with all those affected by recent hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters…

Response: Witness for Peace!

Speak out against human trafficking…

Response: Witness for Peace!

Speak out against white supremacy and racism in all its forms…

Response: Witness for Peace!

Let us send one another forth to witness for peace by greeting one another with the words of Sadako Sasaki: “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world”

Song: “I’ve Got Peace Like a River,” African-American spiritual

I’ve got peace like a river, (3x) in my soul.

Take Action

© 2017 Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER). Planned by Diann L. Neu, Hannah Dorfman, Janaya Sachs, and Heureuse Kaj