Ecumenical peace service at Bridge Street United Church, bringing faiths together, leads to blessing of Belleville’s Peace Pole
Belleville – With the holiday season approaching people of several different faiths gathered at Bridge Street United Church on Sunday, Dec. 3 for an ecumenical peace service. The ceremony concluded with a formal blessing of Belleville’s Peace Pole.
This pole was erected in October as part of the municipality’s work with the United Nations Association Quinte Branch. It now stands prominently along the waterfront trail at West Zwick’s Island Park, not far from the shadows cast by the Norris Whitney Bridge. It will serve as a reminder to Belleville citizens and visitors that the city is a welcome place for people of all cultures, races and religions. It’s in keeping with the work of the Belleville Inclusion Committee.
“We are pleased to present a Peace Pole to the City of Belleville and its citizens,” said Dr. Aruna Alexander, Founding President of the United Nations Association Quinte Branch. “With the world, our community shares the dream of a peaceful planet. The placing of our Peace Pole in a high profile area at Zwick’s Park reflects a universal hope and serves as an inspiration for the entire City of Belleville.”
Belleville Mayor Taso Christopher attended the service and took part in the blessing, which was delivered by Bridge Street United Church Rev. Phil Hobbs. Christopher, the son of Greek immigrants to Canada, praised local faith groups and the UN Association for working to ensure Belleville is a welcoming and inclusive city. He said the pole is “an important symbol of peace in our community, our city, our region.”
During the church service, which also focused on “The Gift of Advent”, guests were treated to readings from six different religions. Shawn Doyle and Scott Roodvoets delivered a reading from Buddhism, Geeta Krishantha delivered a reading from Hindusim, Jerry Selah read from Islam, Steve Hayman read from Baha’I and Margaret Finney read from the Christian bible. All readings delivered a common message for the importance of peace and understanding.