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Gandhi brings peace talk to Marylhurst

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When Arun Gandhi was a rebellious teenager in India, his parents sent him to learn some lessons from his grandfather.

Grandfather was a good teacher. He was Mahatma Gandhi, father of modern India and the great philosopher of nonviolent social change.

Arun learned his lessons well. He will be presenting them at Marylhurst University on Sunday, April 29, at 3 p.m. in Saint Anne's Chapel in a program titled 'Lessons I Learned From My Grandfather.'

For the Rev. Victoria Etchemendy, Gandhi's appearance in Lake Oswego is 'a dream come true.' Her church, Unity World Healing Center, is sponsoring this event, called 'A Day for Peace,' which she intends to begin a whole new chapter to its mission.

'This is a dream come true, personally and for our ministry,' Etchemendy said. 'It is our philosophy to have people of different faiths learn to live and work together peacefully.'

Unity church has been promoting this cause ever since Etchemendy founded it 17 years ago with just five members. However, she believes the need for different religions to establish peaceful relations is more important than ever after Sept. 11.

'The city of Lake Oswego asked me to create a service in Millennium Park after 9-11,' Etchemendy said. 'It was attended by 1,000 people, and there were a dozen faiths represented there.'

To build this movement, Etchemendy has started the Portland Area Forum for Religious Tolerance, and Gandhi's appearance is the first of what she plans to be an annual event. Arun Gandhi is the founder of The Institute for Nonviolence.

'We would like to attract speakers from across the country,' Etchemendy said. 'Even from across the globe. We want people to see beyond their differences by using the non-violence principles of Gandhi. This event serves as our big kickoff.'

While it is quite an event in itself to have a man who embodies all that Unity church believes in, Etchemendy hopes Gandhi's presentation will be a springboard toward a new dialogue in this community among people of various religious faiths.

'The people involved in bringing about this event have been working together for years,' Etchemendy said. 'Now it's time to reach out into the community and take it to the next level. We want to move beyond prejudice and get people together on a one-on-one basis. When that happens, we can move beyond the circle.'

Gandhi will give a question-and-answer session following his talk. That will be followed by an Interfaith Dialogue Panel, featuring representations of Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Jewish, Dharma, and Sikh faiths.

To reserve tickets for A Day for Peace, go to Unity World Healing Center's Web site at www.worldhealing.org or call 503- 697-9765. Seating is limited.

Marylhurst University is located at 17600 Pacific Highway between Lake Oswego and West Linn.