Wednesday, December 12, 2007

See links to peace related events for Houston, Texas at the end of this blog page.


Peace Tree Wishes

At the urgent suggestion of a fellow congregant, the Peacemaking Council agreed to join Yoko Ono’s Peace Tower created in commemoration of John Lennon. Rather than compete with the Mitten Tree that will collect donations for the homeless, an imitation tree made of a lighted spiral is set in place of the Sunday floral arrangement at the front of the sanctuary. Thoughts for peace can be written on the backs of copied cutouts of the groups peace logo and hung with hope that this war, that all of its devastation and loss, will soon end.

After the holidays, a photograph of the peace tree, along with the writings, will be collected and mailed to join others in Raykjavik, Iceland as part of the Yoko and John Lennon Imagine Peace Tower. The tower is a beam of light featuring the words 'imagine peace' in 24 languages. It will be lit every year from October 9 to December 8th. October 9th is John Lennon’s birthday while December 8th is the anniversary of his death. Over half a million wishes from all over the world will be put in a series of capsules and placed on the island surrounding the Imagine Peace Tower. Peace messages can be sent to site.


The Peacemaking Council has been more active than this blog site would attest.

Attorney Dave Salinsky conducted a mediation workshop on May 19th, focusing on family conflicts and settlements. Mr. Salinsky is a 1984 graduate of Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans where he served on the Moot Court Board and was selected for the Order of the Barristers. He relocated to Houston following law school, working for a number of law firms before opening his own firm in 1992. In addition to his primary practice with family cases he also handles wills, real estate and general civil litigation. Since 1998 Mr. Salinsky has served as an associate municipal judge for the City of Webster.

Immediately following the mediation workshop, the Peacemaking group began planning for the third event. The second peace vigil, held October 7, 2007, was part of a larger Unitarian Universalist faith event. It was followed by a day of fasting for peace.

The vigil was held in the Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church sanctuary. That evening, the sanctuary lighting was kept dim to strengthen the simplicity of the vigil. Dove cut-outs taped to the partition behind the podium, a series of flags with the word “peace” depicted in various languages, and a larger peace flag were position about the church. A small table that is usually home to service flowers was position before the podium. Following UU Reverend Matt Tittle’s homily and lighting of the chalice, candles placed on the table were lit: one each for the U.S. and Iraq soldiers who have died. Other candles were lit for the children who have died, their parents, for all families and for those still in harms way and, finally, for all those affected by the war in Iraq.

While the first vigil was held for peace, this event focused on ending the war in Iraq. Peacemaking group leader, Brenda C., implored, “We must end the shattering of Iraqi and American lives by offering American generosity and support, but not control, for international and nongovernmental efforts to assist Iraqis in making peace and rebuilding their country, while swiftly and safely bringing home all American troops. American culture society, and policy are addicted to violence at home and overseas. The day we officially call Columbus Day is overlaid with a history of violence and conquest. In our time, the hope of a decent future is endangered by an unnecessary, morally abhorrent, and disastrous war. Ending this war can be the first step toward a policy that embodies a deeper, broader sense of generosity and community at home and in the world. We are joining together . . . . with millions of faithful Americans in local communities across the nation who believe in changing the course of our nations priorities from Conquest to Community and Violence to Reverence.”

Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation was read. Written in 1870 as a call for peace, it is relevant today, and reads in part:

Say firmly, ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be to tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, ‘Disarm, Disarm!’ The sword of murder is not the balance of justice! Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.

Numbers current to that evening of those who died or wounded were sited. As of that evening, there were more than 3800 United States fatalities and 28,000 wounded. There were at least 75,000 Iraqi civilians killed although one study claimed that number was more than 600,000. Over a million Iraqis have fled their home country while many do not have enough drinking water or electricity. Iraqi unemployment is soaring. As of October 2007, the cost of the war in Iraq is more than $457 BILLION, not including veterans’ healthcare and disability payments, and income losses. Since the vigil, the U.S. fatalities total 3,880 with 28,451 wounded. At least 77,000 Iraqi civilians have died. The cost in military spending has reached $473 billion.

These somber statistics were followed by a presentation of Bringing the War Home On the Road with Eyes Wide Open. The DVD film, produced by American Friends Service Committee, features a pair of boots honoring each U.S. military fatality along with a field of shoes to memorialize the Iraqis killed. The film explores the history, cost and consequences of the war. For more information, visit their web site at

Those attending were invited to fast for peace the following day. “Just as Isaiah called the People of Israel to hear the Yom Kippur fast as a call to feed the hungry, just as Jesus fasted in the wilderness, just as Christians through Lenten fasting and Muslims through Ramadan fasting have focused on spiritual transformation, just as Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez and others drew on fasting to change the course of history, so we cal on all our communities of faith to draw now on fasting as a path toward inner spiritual transformation and outward social transformation.” Those attending then broke bread together as a “sign of our commitment to work together for peace and an end to violence. This shared bread will be a sign of our covenant with one another as individuals and as communities to stand against the war in Iraq, and to work with one another to stand against violence in our communities and around the world.”

Rev. Tittle closed the evening with a prayer for peace. Vigil events were interspersed with singing, lead by “Just Us.” They included Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream, Where Have All the Flowers Gone and ending with Blowin’ in the Wind

Before leaving, those attending were invited to sign either or both of two petitions. One was a petition the Unitarian Universalist Association provided to congregations. President Sinkford would take signed petitions to President Bush within a few days of the event. A second petition, “Nine-Point Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq” was also available.

Links to Peace:

The following are a few web sites for local, Houston community peace action events.

First Unitarian Universalist Church,, select “The Blast” for their Social Just Events and News.

Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston,

South Texas Alliance for Peace and Jusice,

The Boniuk Center for the Study and Advancement of Reigious Tolerance at Riche University,

KPFT’s Calendar for the Houston Peace and Justice Center,

The Blast lists the following as regular Houston peace activity events:

Ø Houston Freeway Blogging: Dunlavy Bridge, Tuesday and Friday

Mandel Bridge on Highway 59 (Wednesday)

Woodhead Bridge, Friday

Ø Live Oak Friends Sunrise Vigil for Peace at 1318 West 26th Street

Ø Department of Peace Campaign-Houston Chapter’s Second Saturday Walking Medication for Peace. Contact Carondelet Dember, 713-522-7279.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

BAUUC Peacemaking group beginnings

When a few members or our church met in September 2006 first met for a Peace Making meeting, we agreed we wanted to take action for rather than talk peace to death. We are members of the Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church (BAUUC), Clear Lake/Houston, TX and UU members are known for discussing any topic – very thoroughly.

Several members have long been active in peace movements, attending rallies and holding signs over busy Houston freeways. They shared web sites focused on peace and we parceled out information to investigate. These included the Unitarian Universalist Associations Issue for Peacemaking and Code Pink. Our own BAUUC’s religious education program for youth completed a peace curriculum in 2006. Since Christmas was looming, we worked toward and held a peace gathering, community welcome, on December 10th Church youth were invited to participate with three of them having speaking parts for the vigil event. With snacks available to fuel peace-making activities, an assembly of about 60 people joined for sing-alongs and to read passages for peace.

People were given the opportunity to call out names of those they knew, that have been touched by the horrors of war. One of the Peacemaking group members created a emotionally moving and thought provoking slideshow of Iraq war images from the internet. Several people commented on how touched they were and some were even moved to tears. The leader of our Peacemaking group, Brenda Cockrell, stated, “ . . .it was an awesome experience.”

We met again in January and further outlined what we would like to accomplish as a group. Suggestions included showing relevant films at a progressive film forum held Thursday evenings at the church. We discussed finding a professional mediator who could address conflict resolution. Another member is making arrangements with a local mediator to schedule for a spring meeting.

On February 22nd our congregation sponsored a production of The Vagina Monologues with congregant members giving voice to this powerful, provocative drama. A flyer inside the program explains, “V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of playwright/founder Eve Ensler’s awared winning play The Vagina Monologues.” V-Day is an organized response against violence toward women. All proceeds from the performance were given to Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a shelter for abused women. BAUUC received many calls following the performance, thanking us for making this available, giving testimony to the difference it made to many audience members. We are proud to be a congregation that is willing to make an uncomfortable decision, supporting an uncomfortable production, provoking uncomfortable realizations that we hope creates change within individuals and our community.

Suggestions at subsequent meetings include requesting a section of the church library for books and films related to peace. One member has been in contact with Diane Wilson, author of An Unreasonable Woman and founder of Code Pink toward inviting her to give a church sermon and weekend workshop regarding her work.

Our group keeps a calendar of peace-related events, both grassroots and organized, in the Houston community. For instance, individuals meet at busy freeway overpasses to display anti-war and peace-advocating signs. This may seem like a small action but it invites those trapped in Houston traffic to take a moment to consider their own position. Even a few, brave beeps assures others they are not alone and becomes a place of shared gathering. A local artistic, meditative chapel held a “Music for Peace” event in collaboration with Ebony opera singers. We leave flyers of these events on sanctuary chairs and, possibly, will list them on the church web site.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Houston Peace and Justice Center

Hi All! I'm Susan Brasseux, a supporter of the BAUUC Peace Group. I have not been able to attend the meetings yet but I will do what I can to help out. I'm also the head of the Library Committee and I can help you find materials, research, etc. if you like.

Here is a link to the Houston Peace and Justice Center site. It has news about peace related groups and activities in the Houston area. The Local Events Calendar is located on the left menu bar under Highlights.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

May Meeting!

Our meetings are:

First Wednesday

6:00 pm

Children's RE, usually in the straight back from worship area, past kitchen.

Thanks to Brenda for setting up the Holocaust Memorial Day candles at church last
Sunday, before Earth Day.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

April Meeting!

Hello all,

Hope to see some postings soon!