ELKHART — A group of approximately 50 dedicated marchers braved Sunday’s cold and windy weather to bring awareness to their message of peace during the third annual Palm Sunday Peace Parade.
Marchers representing Hively Avenue Mennonite Church, Prairie Street Mennonite Church, First Congregational Church UCC and others took part in the demonstration that paraded from Hively Avenue to the Elkhart Civic Plaza Sunday afternoon.
The event was organized by the Elkhart Advocates for Peace and Justice.
Megan Whitacre, a member of the Elkhart Advocates, said the purpose of the march was not only to call for an end to violence of all types in Elkhart, but around the world.
“We were gathering to represent peace in the whole world rather than simply just Elkhart. This is just a microcosm of the peace that we wish for,” she said.
Whitacre said the group chooses Palm Sunday as the day for their annual march because upon Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, he “was proclaiming a new way of living, a way that was separate from the powers that be, that proclaimed peace and love and solidarity with the marginalized.”
Holding signs sporting such slogans as “One human family,” “God is still speaking” and “Violence ends where love begins,” marchers paraded up to the plaza to the beat of drums and waving palm branches.
The group sang songs upon reaching the plaza before Jason Moreno, a member of the Elkhart Advocates, spoke about celebrating the group’s peace through Jesus Christ.
Moreno juxtaposed the Christian model of peace through justice and mercy against the Roman model of eliminating antagonistic forces.
“We choose the false peace with the sword,” he explained. “We selfishly protect ourselves from violence with an historically proven, mutually assured destruction of our small-scale armaments and we escalate things.”
“We are ending up on a social nuclear proliferation of bullets in our society that we deal with in Elkhart every day,” Moreno continued. “It’s claimed victims up and down these streets for years.”
Moreno said the way to lasting peace would come only through justice and mercy for the marginalized, whether socio-economic, racial or other areas where justice and mercy and have not been applied.
“We need to focus on removing inequities and focus on bringing more justice and mercy. As Christians, and not only as Christians but as decent human beings, we can no longer be quiet when our political representatives pursue escalations of violence against other nations in the form of war, nor can we allow their violence against children of poverty needing health care and food.”
Moreno concluded his speech in a hopeful tone, saying, “For all of those here today, you represent hope for me and I hope you all represent hope for others... I pray that we leave here in peace and find ourselves freed. And may our peace flow by the removal of injustice.”