by Bert Newton
Organized by Elkhart Advocates for Peace and Justice (EAPJ), churches in Elkhart, IN held their 7th Palm Sunday Peace Parade, choosing the theme “Building Bridges Instead of Walls.” Wendell Wiebe-Powell, president of EAPJ, reports, “The parade started at the Hively Avenue Mennonite Church peace garden where participants read a pledge of nonviolence together. Introductory words mentioned that ‘this walk through the city is a reminder of that which is often neglected or forgotten – that peace and justice are central to the message of Palm Sunday and at the heart of the gospel more broadly, that we walk together to re-present a different way, a way that Jesus showed us, a way of reconciliation, a way of grace AND of peace.’ A few more people joined the procession at Prairie St. Mennonite and at St. James AME Church, ending up with around one hundred by the time the group reached the Elkhart Civic Plaza.”
Jim Bishop reports that in Harrisonburg, VA, approximately 60 people marched in their annual Palm Sunday Peace Parade from “Immanuel Mennonite Church, stopping several times to hear short speeches on immigration, prison reform and other justice issues. Participants came from Community Mennonite Church, Immanuel Mennonite, Early Church and Bethel AME.”
Churches in State College, PA held their second Palm Sunday Peace Walk, with stops to call attention to issues of education, civil rights, the environment, mass incarceration, and immigration. Ben Wideman reports that the “event is organized annually by 3rd Way Collective, University Mennonite Church’s campus ministry at Penn State University, however those in attendance represented more than a dozen local faith communities – mostly Christian denominations, but also folks from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and some representatives from our Muslim community.”
Over 120 people from many different churches marched on Sunday in the 15th Annual Pasadena Palm Sunday Peace Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Begun by Mennonites in 2003 at the beginning of the Iraq War, the parade has taken on other themes in recent years. This year’s theme was “Ending Homelessness and Ensuring Affordable Housing for All.” The theme was chosen to address a critical housing crisis and a consequent spike in homelessness in Los Angeles County. Several housing activists spoke at the event, including Will Watts, Directing Attorney for the Homelessness Prevention Law Project, and Nicole Hodgson of the Pasadena Renters Union. Dorothy Edwards, a woman who lived on the streets of Pasadena for 7 years before being housed through local agencies, also spoke. Marchers were then invited to join the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group to continue advocating for affordable housing and an end to homelessness in the Pasadena area.