U.N. Day of Peace Gets Religious Groups Praying

People from various religious groups around the world prayed for peace Monday on the United Nations International Day of Peace.

From Cambodia to Texas, Sept. 21 was commemorated with symbolic acts and prayers for peace.

The Odyssey Networks – the largest U.S. coalition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith groups that seeks to build understanding through media – had launched an online campaign weeks in advance to collect a million prayers for peace.

Meanwhile in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Buddhist monks and nuns sat to pray for peace during a ceremony for the day.

"Prayer is a powerful thing that can bring the world peace," said Abdikani Abdi, 19, in a webisode posted in the Peace Video Festival section of the Odyssey Networks Web site.

Abdi, his younger brother and their widowed mother are refugees from Somalia who were accepted into the U.S. refugee program and arrived in Kenya in 2007. They were later resettled to Pennsylvania by Church World Service, a Christian relief and development agency that partnered with the Odyssey Networks for the "A Million Minutes for Peace" campaign.

Sept. 21 was formally designated by the United Nations in 2001 as the International Day of Peace. Every year since, the United Nations has called for a global cease-fire and non-violence on this day. The day is usually observed at the U.N. headquarters with a traditional ceremony in which the secretary-general rings the Peace Bell.

This year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rang the Peace Bell on Friday because Monday is a public holiday in many regions of the world.

Among this year's participants, as in the past, were members of the Salvation Army who were called earlier this month by their leader, General Shaw Clifton, to devote the month of September to pray for peace and for the victims of sex trade trafficking.

"Conflicts between nations and conflicts within nations still claim lives on a daily basis, destroying stability, disrupting education and creating poverty," Clifton stated in this year's call to prayer.

Specifically, Clifton had urged Salvationists to pray for peace on the U.N. International Day of Peace on and for victims of sex trade trafficking on Sept. 27.