In the Beginning …
The seeds for the RVA Peace Festival were planted during a candlelight vigil following the tragic events of 9/11. Muslims wondered what repercussions might befall them as an aftermath to the events of that tragedy. In the dusk of evening, Muslims and others gathered for a candlelight service on the front lawn of the Islamic Center. They were surprised and grateful when a candlelight procession of members from a neighboring church, Bon Air United Methodist Church, joined the vigil. Those in the procession had come to provide comfort and to pray for those lost in the tragedy of 9/11. This was one of many such stories of extraordinary courage and love following 9/11, and it was to grow into Richmond’s “answer” to 9/11.
During the following years, the two houses of worship continued to talk. Then, in the summer of 2004, members of the Bon Air United Methodist Church contacted members of the Islamic Center of Virginia and proposed that they join together along with other faith-based organizations to hold an event which would foster peace in the Richmond area. Other founding sponsors were the Interfaith Council of Greater Richmond (ICGR), the Richmond Peace Education Center (RPEC), Midlothian Friends, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Richmond Mennonite Fellowship, the Spiritual Mind Center, and the Asian American Business Assistance Center. Thus, the Festival was “born”.
The centerpiece of the RVA Peace Festival has been and will continue to be an interfaith worship service. It has included speakers from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i, Hindu, and Sikh communities. In addition, the tragedy of 9/11 is remembered with a moment of silence and the release of doves.
The Festival is FREE and a recurring theme has been “Peace Begins at Home”. The Peace Festival is for you and your children and friends: our community. Come and enjoy a world with no borders—just curiosity and mutual respect. Enjoy the entertainment with local performers and youth in music, song, and dance. The day also includes arts & crafts and games for the children, and a variety of ethnic/international food.
There are ‘event exhibitors’ from various faith-based and non-profit organizations that serve the family, as well as vendors who display and sell their crafts.