In the ominous days following 9/11/01, a group of religious leaders from the Los Angeles area came together to seek an alternative to the fear mongering and vengefulness that was sweeping much of our nation. Clergy, lay, and community leaders met in a church basement and decided to rally around the slogan: “Religious Communities Must Stop Blessing War and Violence.”
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Within a few months, dozens of religious groups and peace organizations responded to this call. Religious leaders and activists began meeting every Friday morning to discuss issues and organize activities, calling themselves Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace---ICUJP. Their goal was to find ways to create a culture of peace and help end the war system.
Fourteen years later, that work continues. Every Friday morning 20-40 people gather at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles. Regular attendees include teachers, a best-selling author, student organizers, a civil liberties lawyer, poets, documentary filmmakers, writers, college professors, a management consultant, graphic artists, and a broad spectrum of religious leaders.
All of these peace workers are committed to four core ICUJP principles:
- the power of love to overcome hatred;
- the power of mercy to conquer vengeance;
- the celebration of our common humanity and the sacredness of human life;
- and our calling to build a just, equitable, and peaceful world.