Dunedin, Florida

Religions Unite for Annual Peace Walk in Dunedin

The annual United Faiths Walk of Peace was attended by hundreds from different faith beliefs to promote better understanding and acceptance of one another.

Participants marched from the Al Salaam Mosque to the Josiah Cephas Weaver Park.

On Sunday, January 26, hundreds of people of different faiths, Islam, Christianity, Bahá’í, Judaism, Taoist Tai Chi, Scientology and more, came together at the Al Salaam Mosque in Dunedin, Florida for the annual United Faiths Walk of Peace event to promote greater understanding and respect between people of different religious beliefs.

The mission statement of the United Faiths Walk of Peace is to promote peace, justice, and mutual respect by bringing the faith communities of the region together for fellowship, dialogue and increased knowledge of each other’s faith beliefs.

The event started with a service project, making emergency care kits for local nonprofits such as the Homeless Empowerment Program, Dunedin Cares, Ready for Life and RCS Pinellas. Participants also got to bond and ask questions about each other’s beliefs. Once groups finished making emergency kits, they toured the Al Salaam Mosque and learned more about the Islamic religion’s beliefs.

Guests came in groups to receive a tour of the Al Salaam Mosque, learning what they do inside and what their faith beliefs are.

Don Miller attends the Peace Walk every year “to show people that to understand another person’s religion and beliefs you have to be respectful and experience them as a person. If everyone was respectful, the world would be a much better place than it is right now.”

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, during fiscal year 2019, there were 2,725 charges filed for religious discrimination. In the last decade there were 35,369 charges filed.

“The best way to defend others being discriminated against is to support them privately, publicly and by setting an example,” says Miller. “Treat them the way you would want to be treated if it was you.”

After a group photo, participants walked to Josiah Cephas Weaver Park where the event culminated with an African Drum Circle. “This was the first time we did the drum circle here and it was a huge success,” says Rev. Becky Robbins-Penniman of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, the founder and organizer of the event.

Peace Walk participants in Josiah Cephas Weaver Park engaging in the African Drum Circle.

In the three years she’s organized the event, she says, “The Peace Walk has made people a lot less fearful of others. The first year I did this I invited the Al Salaam Mosque and others, only hoping for 50 people to show up and I got 250 people and more and more churches.”

After the event ended, the head of the Al Salaam Mosque, Imam Jalal Abdelwahed, who has participated in the Peace Walk three times, said, “The Peace Walk is a great idea to bring people together. We are under one Creator and He created all of us. It doesn’t matter what they believe in. They believe in something.”