Helix peace gathering offered a message of hope

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Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn, churches and the leaders of two local mosques were among those to brave a rainswept Helix Park for a special gathering - in the name of peace.

There has been a Quaker meeting in Polmont for over 30 years and to mark the occasion Polmont Quakers have presented a Peace Pole to the people of Falkirk.

Quakerism grew out of Christianity and is almost 400 years old.

Quakers do not have creeds or hymns or paid ministers, and share a commitment to equality, peace, truth, justice and simplicity.

Guests at the event last Sunday included Quakers from Polmont and other Meetings, Provost Billy Buchanan, Councillors Cecil Meikejohn and Robert Bissett, and Ben Mardel representing Falkirk Community Trust.

Many local churches sent representatives including Falkirk Central Mosque, the Falkirk Islamic centre, the Baptist Church, Bainsford Church and Christchurch.

Kate Arnot from Polmont Quakers welcomed everyone and explained that the pole says “May peace prevail” in English, Gaelic, Polish and Urdu, and is a celebration of our rich and diverse local culture.

The Freedom of Mind Choir (from Falkirk’s Mental Health Association) sang “Peace, Shalom, Salaam” followed by readings about peace, including this statement from New Zealand Quakers -

“We totally oppose all wars, all preparation for war, all use of weapons and coercion by force, and all military alliances: no end could ever justify such means.

“We equally and actively oppose all that leads to violence among people and nations, and violence to other species and to our planet.

“We must start with our own hearts and minds. Wars will stop only when each of us is convinced that war is never the way”.

Councillor Meiklejohn spoke of her pride in the diversity of Falkirk and how the message of the pole will be something that can be shared by all people.

She added that she hoped it will become a place where anyone can spend quiet time.

The leaders of the two mosques expressed thanks for their invitation, and spoke of how we must all live together in peace and how all religions are one.

As the choir sang again two young Quakers gave out origami Peace Cranes, and this was followed by a few minutes of silence followed by the shaking of hands.

A spokesperson for Polmont Quakers said: “Despite the wind and rain, this was a warm and inclusive occasion , celebrating peace and the hope of a better world”.