The Fifth Annual Art of Peace Tyler concluded on Monday with three peace-themed events. Community members dedicated a one-of-a-kind peace pole and the Duane Andrews Peace Garden at noon at the St. Paul Children’s Foundation.
In the evening, close to 200 people were expected to gather for a peace meal at Marvin United Methodist Church followed by the display of a living peace sign.
The activities capped off two-weeks-worth of arts-based events dedicated to promoting compassion, creativity and community, according to promotional information.
The celebration coincided with the United Nations International Day of Peace on Monday.
Event co-founder and organizing committee member Neal Katz said the series of events has become an incredible block of programs and celebrations throughout the Tyler community.
“We’re partnering with some of the great places in Tyler just to have moments of peace and learning and celebration through art, through conversation, through dialogue,” he said.
This year’s theme was “Partnerships for Peace,” and the showcased nonprofit was the St. Paul Children’s Foundation, which is why the peace pole dedication took place there.
The pole, made by artists Kerian Massey, of Ben Wheeler, and Diane Billingsley, of Kerens, features the word peace in 27 languages.
The cedar pole, which stands about 10 feet tall, features panels on all four sides and a topper that includes the words May Peace Prevail on Earth along with metal designs of the world and two white doves.
“I want it to be something where they feel like it’s a unification of people,” Ms. Massey said. “Everybody comes here and feels welcome because they see it in their language.”
An estimated 200,000-plus peace poles exist worldwide, according to the World Peace Prayer Society website, which is based in New York.
This is the second peace pole to be installed as part of Art of Peace Tyler. Last year, organizers put one in the Tyler Rose Garden.
As part of the peace pole dedication, several local religious leaders prayed for peace, including Rabbi Katz, pastors Doug Baker and Gerry Giles with Marvin United Methodist Church, the Rev. Dr. Stuart Baskin with First Presbyterian Church and Imam Taha Zeidan with the East Texas Islamic Society.
Several people also offered the blessing, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” in different languages.
Dr. Duane Andrews, who is the namesake for the Peace Garden, is a founding board member of the St. Paul Children’s Foundation and helped establish the St. Paul’s Pediatric Clinic. He was the 2013 recipient of the T.B. Butler Award as Tyler’s most outstanding citizen.
Katz said there are a lot of opportunities to stand for peace in the coming year, including on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Tyler Junior College’s International Day.
He encouraged people to “help us build tolerance, build respect” and invited anyone in the community who has ideas for Art of Peace Tyler to let organizers know.
“We’ll work with you to develop something to help us celebrate peace,” he said.
VIDEO: To watch video from the Peace Pole dedication, visit TylerPaper.com.