By Jim Smith (Daily Democrat)
Now in its fifth year, Saturday's Peace Picnic saw much more of an intermingling of faiths than in previous times.
Sitting down together, breaking bread and eating rice beneath the shade of trees at John Ferns Park were Methodists, Muslims, Lutherans and many others.
Instilling friendship and peace was the theme of the picnic, sponsored by Woodland's Ecumenical Ministries.
Started five years ago by the American Muslim Voice, peace picnics are held nationwide as a means of getting people to know one another.
The picnic featured a barbecue -- complete with hamburgers and hot dogs as well as traditional Pakistani food -- and a variety of children's activities.
Among those leaders present were Woodland City Councilman Jim Hilliard and former mayor Art Pimentel as well as others. Also present were a number of local pastors, although some had to beg off coming this year due to illness or prior commitments.
Some of the churches participating in the picnic were Methodist, Presbyterian, St. John's, Holy Rosary, Christian Church, St. Luke's Episcopal and the American Lutheran.
Largely, however, the picnic was an opportunity for people to enjoy a barbecue, spend time in conversation, listen to music, play games or get to know Woodland's K-9 team Mondo and Officer Rich Rayls, who was the object of much attention by local children.
Members of the Woodland Islamic Center have worked diligently since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to share their faith and themselves and demonstrate that not every Muslim is a terrorist.
"With newspapers and media screens filled with Arab Spring, civil war in Syria, drone attacks in Pakistan, the infamous Youtube video, the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens," wrote Presbyterian Church Pastor Kathy McIntosh-Smith, "we need opportunities to meet and talk with our Muslim neighbors, to hear their views of current events, and discuss the hopes and dreams for our world and our country we all share as American citizens.
"It's also nice just to talk about schools and gardens, recipes and work, as we watch our children and grandchildren play together," she added.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali adds:
Woodland Interfaith Peace picnic, held on Saturday, at Fern Park, Woodland, drew large crowd. The annual peace event was sponsored by American Muslim Voice and cosponsored by the Woodland Muslim Community and Woodland Ecumenical Ministries.
Rev. Ardith Allread of the Methodist Church of Woodland was the MC of the program.
Rev. Kathy McIntosh-Smith of the Presbyterian Church Woodland was games activity coordinator.
Hafiz Aamir Hussain Imam of the Woodland Mosque and Rev. Mary Adelberg of the American Lutheran Church of Woodland offered prayers before the meal.
Mayor of Woodland, Skip Davis, in his brief speech appreciated this annual effort of community building.
Dr. Bill Marble, a member of the Woodland City Council, also spoke briefly. Dr. Marble said that he has been supporting and attending these awesome events ever since these were started 5 years ago.
Khalid Saeed, National President of American Muslim Voice, welcomed the whole community to gather for conversation, games, and a great lunch at the Fern Park.
He explained how and why American Muslim Voice started this effort nationally and Woodland Muslim Mosque and community have embraced it.
Khalid Saeed requested all to get to know one new person they do not know.
There were Children’s games, henna painting, and music, cricket match, volleyball, and delicious main dish provided by Muslim community.
Live music was another attraction of the peace picnic. Roberts Gomez amused the audience with playing accordion and Jose Galindo was on guitar.
Woodland Ecumenical Ministries churches brought salads and desserts to share.
Peoples enjoyed the mingling and had fun, talking with neighbors about current events, gardens, families and schools and renewed commitments to peace and friendship.
New Feature K9 Unit from Woodland Police Department was a hit with people of all ages.
Among others who attended the interfaith peace picnic included:
Jim Hilliard, a member City Council; Art Pimental, former Mayor of Woodland; Bishop Dr. Bill Wagnon of Mormon Church; Dr. Jesse Ortize, President of the Latino Community Council and Sylvania Frausto from the Holy Rosary Church of Woodland.
Civil activist, Tasadduq Attari, came from San Jose to attend the peace picnic.
Khalid Saeed thanked all the volunteers who make this event successful. He particularly thanked Usman Sadiq, Zahoor , Shafi, Bashir and Naseer for a lot of hard work and a long day at the park. He also recognized Ahad, Riaz and Ali who were at the park in spirit as well.
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