GENEVA – Some 60 people celebrated the International Day of Peace Sept. 21, held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Geneva, according to a news release.
The event, Diverse Voices: Come Listen and Converse, was organized by Rachel Yackley of Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors, Haroon Qureshi, of the Islamic Center of Kane County, Jean Pierce, of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva and Janet Bell, from the Congregational United Church of Christ in St. Charles.
The first panel examined the experiences of Muslims living in the TriCities. In addition to Qureshi, the panel included Attorney Junaid Afeef, pre-med student Saadiya Jabbar and Imam Khalid Dogar.
They reported a variety of experiences, the release stated.
One had encountered people who were convinced that they could not trust anything that Muslims said, and that when Donald Trump was elected President, Muslims would be forced to leave the country.
Nevertheless, all agreed that they enjoyed public opportunities to discuss similarities and differences and they welcomed people’s sincere questions.
“We need to create bridges between hearts,” Dogar said.
The second panel reported on progress and plans of the TriCities as they engage to varying degrees in the Greenest Region Compact 2, known as GRC2, which is a regional strategic plan for environmental sustainability.
The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus
Cities which have agreed to the Compact want to create the “most sustainable and successful region in the United States,” the release stated.
They have adopted a menu of 49 goals, and each of the cities identifies how it will act on those goals.
Panelist Abby Beck, a 5th Ward Alderman in Geneva, also serves on the Environmental Commission. Beck said the goals helped Batavia develop a more focused approach to addressing environmental concerns.
Beck stated she looks forward to convincing the City Council that “every issue is an environmental issue.”
Geneva resident Jay Womack has led the city’s Natural Resources Committee for the past 15 years. He reported that Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns is leading the Greenest Region Compact Mayoral initiative.
Panelist Ralph Grathoff, chairman of the St. Charles Natural Resource Commission, reported that the city council was poised to adopt the GRC2. Grathoff said he hoped that it would give structure to the city’s environmental program, according to the release.
While adults enjoyed the panel discussions, children were engaged in creating a peace quilt representing their different religious traditions.
The celebration concluded with performances from Islamic Center of Kane County youth performing music from the Islamic tradition; a brass band from the Congregational United Church of Christ playing “The Lord’s Prayer”; and Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors singing “L’takein et Ha’Olam,” which means, “To Repair the World.