McKeesport church plants Peace Pole in hopes to counteract violence
When Vince Veltre received a Peace Pole from his daughter for his 60th birthday, it sparked an idea for a project at his church.
“That gift planted the seed for putting a Peace Pole here at the church,” he said of the idea for McKeesport Presbyterian Church, 1510 Versailles Ave.
As part of the Mission Committee, the idea was presented to the governing body of the church. “He brought the idea to Session and we embraced it,” the Rev. Jay Hollingsworth said, noting the congregation quickly supported the project.
A Peace Pole is an internationally recognized symbol of the hopes and dreams for peace on Earth. Each pole says “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in up to four languages.
“The one my daughter got me is in English, Italian, German and Chichewa, the native language of Malawi,” Veltre said.
The pole at the church has the phrase in English, Chichewa, Arabic and Spanish.
Veltre thought the Peace Pole fit the battle cry of McKeesport officials — “Respect, Love, Integrity, Hope.”
The Peace Pole will be dedicated on Saturday beginning with a ceremony at 11 a.m., followed by a variety of activities until 2 p.m. The ceremony will be at the corner of Union and Versailles avenues, then move to the church parking lot for food, clowns, face painting, a balloon artist, Soldiers of Praise mime group and Chalice.
Hollingsworth said four pastors will participate in the service and the message will be given by Scott Holland of Bethany Theological Seminary of the Church of the Brethren. Holland is professor of peace studies and cross-cultural studies at the seminary and he and his wife live in McKeesport.
Martha Wahera will take part in the service. “She is a teacher in Malawi,” Veltre said. “We planned this around the visitation of our (Presbyterian Church USA) partnering church in Malawi.”
Veltre, who has been to the Republic of Malawi twice, said it is the most peaceful of all the African countries. “We are hoping to take a Peace Pole to Malawi next year.”
The hope, Hollingsworth said, is that “other churches will join with us so Peace Poles can be planted throughout the community. We hope this is a proactive step. How do you counteract violence in a proactive, significant way? We hope this might be one way of doing that.”
“We want this to be a daily reminder for peace to people who drive and walk past here every day,” Veltre said. “God asks us to plant the seed and he will do the rest. Hopefully this will plant some seeds.”
Carol Waterloo Frazier is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1916, or firstname.lastname@example.org.