Zones of Peace
The Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia has committed the resources of its congregations, members, and rich religious traditions to imagining our region as a zone of peace, free of fear, filled with respect, and marked by deeds of kindness.
Zones of Peace is a region-wide interfaith movement of churches, synagogues, mosques, other houses of worship, schools, and community-based organizations working to address the root causes of violence and make us safer in the communities where we live, work, and play. Zones of Peace recognizes organizations that are pioneering creative responses to violence and elevates their leadership.
Zones of Peace communities understand that violence takes on many shapes—from poverty in our neighborhoods to bullying in our schools and fear in our homes; recognized Zones of Peace seek unique ways to address the challenges most palpable in their neighborhoods. Programs and projects could include:
- Care for children impacted by abuse, neglect, and mental illness
- Food distribution to people experiencing hunger
- Healthcare services for people who lack insurance
- Safe havens for youth
- Efforts to reduce neighborhood crime
The Pledge: A Call from People of Faith to Stop Violence
“I pledge as an individual: to promote peace in my home and community.
I pledge to work with others to eliminate the causes of hatred, to honor dignity of all people, to lay down our weapons, and to find non-violent solutions when tempted to hurt another.
I pledge to be an instrument of God’s peace: to make my home and neighborhood zones of peace, free of fear, filled with respect, and marked by deeds of kindness.”
“To bring peace to Philadelphia will require both the grace of God and the active efforts of every person of good will. The commitment is there, but there needs to be a smarter and more intense act of ending violence on the part of political and religious leaders and family. Every effort that is made builds on every other effort; it’s a network of commitment in relationships.”
– Rev. John Hougen, Co-chair, Zones of Peace, The Bulletin, March 20, 2009.
In the Zone
- Zones of Peace Newsletter October, 2012
- Zones of Peace Newsletter July, 2012
- Zones of Peace Newsletter February, 2012
- View photos from our Logo Creation Workshop.
- Read about the meaning of our logo.
- Watch a video about the creation of the project.
- Download the Pledge for Peace in English, Spanish or Arabic.
- Religious Leaders Council Members
For More Information
The Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation strives to facilitate peace, justice and reconciliation by engaging faith groups and other communities in dialogue, reflection, and action. The major function of this organization is to plan and carry out an annual Interfaith Peace Walk which draws 500 – 1000 participants. The April 2013 walk was the tenth consecutive annual walk; Each walk has had a theme and has included stops at religious sites from different traditions with programming at each site. Participants are also given ideas for meaningful conversation to discuss along the way. The Peace Walk has built strong relationships with other organizations–both religious and “peace-oriented.” Furthermore, the Peace Walk Group meets monthly throughout the year to foster intergroup sharing and stimulate collaborative projects to increase understanding and reduce intergroup tensions. By identifying, networking, and maintaining contact with the various individuals, groups, and group leaders (including religious, cultural, ethnic, social, governmental, nonprofit, corporate and others), this fluid, all-volunteer body continues to encourage and work for peaceful relations in all aspects of life in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, founded under the City Charter in 1951 to address workplace discrimination, is the oldest human relations commission in the country. Its goal is to enforce Philadelphia’s civil rights laws and to address matters of intergroup conflicts in the city. The Compliance Division investigates claims of unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and the delivery of city services. The Community Relations Division works to mediate, ease and diffuse individual, intergroup and community tensions and conflicts throughout the city of Philadelphia through deep listening, building trust, and providing safe places for airing grievances as well as opportunities for bridge-building and reconciliation. The Commission truly embodies our mission to make the entire city a Zone of Peace.
ArtWell is a non-sectarian organization that fosters creativity and enhances communication and literacy skills among young people from diverse cultures and faith traditions in order to deepen their understanding of themselves and their community. Ultimately, ArtWell aims to reduce violence and increase peace within our city and region. Found in 2001 as the Arts and Spirituality Center, ArtWell has responded to the chronic community violence in Philadelphia by introducing a preventative, educational, arts-oriented approach to reach under served communities and children and teens facing discrimination, poverty, violence and the everyday challenges of growing up. Through their four programs (We the Poets, The Art of Growing Up, HeartSpeak, and MasterPeace), ArtWell has partnered with over 350 schools and organizations and engaged with over 23,000 youth across Philadelphia, 85% from low-income communities.
PAADV believes that drug activity and violence are interrelated. The Alliance works in conjunction with many other local groups to help organize town watches, speak to students in recreation centers and schools, and conduct anti-drug vigils at well-known drug corners. Members respond to neighborhood drug activity by organizing marches that take control of drug corners and fill them with song, chanting, and prayer. The Alliance believes that transforming drug corners into places of community and prayer, even if only for a series of hours, has a lasting impact on the sense of community.
In 2009, Lutheran Children and Family Services approached Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (PoP) about hosting an Eritrean family from a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Since then, PoP has helped resettle over 50 individuals from 8 different families, mostly from Bhutan. PoP is located in the neighborhood of Lawncrest in Northeast Philadelphia and works with several other congregations and organizations to provide English as a Second Language and American Sign Language courses for refugees new to the community. As part of its ministry, PoP provides assistance with housing, jobs, and social opportunities. PoP also works with Heeding God’s Call to address illegal gun trafficking in Philadelphia.
Over the course of several years, Ascension United Church of Christ worked to transform itself into an explicitly “Open and Affirming” congregation. Ascension welcomes the diversity of sexual orientations, races, ethnicities, and abilities in its worshiping community and is helping to end discrimination of all kinds. Ascension United Church of Christ also works to address the causes of violence, assist its victims, and additionally, has become a designated “Safe Place” for all.
Rhawnhurst Turning Point Center began as the product of collaboration between Rhawnhurst Presbyterian and Redemption Lutheran Churches. The Center is a Christian-based non-profit organization open to all youth 6th grade and older which works to keep kids off the streets by providing them structure and a sense of security within their community.They strive to prevent youth from becoming involved with violence while exposing them to the arts, service opportunities, and free academic support. This speaks to the idea of fostering a collaborative community that strives to serve all peoples of all faiths, demonstrating their commitment to peace through embracing differences.
First African Presbyterian Church is working at multiple levels to cultivate peace among congregants and in the broader East Parkside and West Philadelphia communities. First African Presbyterian Church is committed to tackling the toughest issues that face its community, including literacy, healthcare access, and drug use. A few examples of First African Presbyterian Church’s work in the community include hosting: a free health clinic in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania; two Head Start classrooms; a Narcotics Anonymous group; free weekly noon lunches and bible discussions; and young men’s and young women’s groups.
No Place for Hate began in 2001 as an initiative of the Anti-Defamation League, seeking to provide a flexible framework to schools, communities, and other organizations with an aim to eliminate hatred and promote positive methods for navigating differences of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other types of diversity. The free program exists in more than 200 schools, communities and community organizations like the YMCAs, and includes access to resource materials, youth leadership conferences and the Walk Against Hate. Participating organizations are required to complete three projects every year to keep the momentum of the message going. These projects can be tailored to the budgetary needs of each group, and past projects have included diversity clubs and tolerance-themed book corners, as well as guest speakers. The ongoing nature of this initiative ensures that the value of difference is reinforced over time for its participants, engendering a truly lasting change in the way people think about “other.”
West Kensington Ministry strives to be an integral part of its community, and has inspired powerful involvement from both adult and youth members. An open mic night is hosted every Friday evening, which provides a safe space for young people to express themselves and learn positive values while their parents get a chance to relax! Youth Bible study and Sunday night suppers are also regular events, and grief counselors have been provided as needed to address the region’s struggle with gun violence. Silk screen printing and a recording studio are positive additions which the congregation has made to work towards being self-sustaining. The Ministry has a clear understanding of the needs of its congregants, providing an example to us all on the true meaning of hard work and perseverance.
- Arab-American Development Corporation–Al Aqsa Islamic Society
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – South Philadelphia
- Congregation Rodeph Shalom
- Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
- Grace Lutheran Church
- Health Exposure and Longevity Project Inc (HELP)
- Heavenly Hall Church
- Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia
- Mosque of Shaikh M.R. BawaMuhaiyaddeen
- Mt. Pisgah AME Church
- Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
- Presbyterian Children’s Village
- Solid Rock UMC Church
- St. Frances de Sales School
- St. John’s Lutheran Church, Ambler
- St. John’s Lutheran Church, Melrose Park
- Tabernacle United Church
- The Institute for Forgiveness and Reconciliation at Chestnut Hill College
- Wissahickon Faith Community Association
- Wynnefield Baptist Church
Zones of Peace Investors
- Archdiocese of Philadelphia
- Msgr. Michael Carroll
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
- Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
- Eric Hocky & Abby Stamelman Hocky
- Clair & Virginia Hoifjeld
- Rabbi Alan Iser& Sharon Liebhaber
- Adam Kessler
- Jo-Ann Pierie
- Mt. Pisgah AME Church
- Presbytery of Philadelphia
- Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA
- St. John’s Lutheran Church, Melrose Park
Suggest an organization by contacting Rev. Nicole D. Diroff.
Nominate! Help us lift up stories of success and courage by nominating an organization or congregation addressing the root causes of violence in your community. Congregations and organizations are also invited to self-nominate. Click here nominate an organization.
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