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Soldier of peace

Arun Gandhi to celebrate Season of Nonviolence with WL appearances


by: SUBMITTED - Arun Gandhi stands before a huge photo of his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi. The grandson has been a tireless crusader in the effort to promote world peace.The Rev. Victoria Etchemendy is always very grateful when her friend Dr. Arun Gandhi comes to town.

He once changed her life, and he will doubtlessly change others when he comes to the area to speak on Feb. 25. The UNITY Center will welcome Gandhi when he speaks at Marylhurst University at 7 p.m. Earlier that day he will speak at Athey Creek Middle School at 9:45 a.m.

Gandhi is speaking as part of his tour to promote the Season of Nonviolence, which marks the period between the anniversaries of the assassinations of his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi (Jan. 30), and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (April 4). Gandhi will be speaking all over the world on this tour.

“I traveled with Arun five years ago,” said Etchemendy, lead pastor of the UNITY Center, “and he dramatically changed my outlook on Gandhi (the father of modern India) and how his teachings relate to the world today, not just the past. To go with his grandson to see the sites where Gandhi worked and lived was so powerful. Then I was able to bring those principles back with me to use in my life and share them with others.”

A world constantly plagued by violence still turns to Gandhi to find the answers to war.

“I have always been a student of Gandhi,” Etchemendy said. “How did he do what he did? He was so committed to interfaith action, which is what UNITY is all about. Gandhi had interfaith prayers every night. I made a commitment to do that in my community.”

The theme of Arun Gandhi’s appearance here will be “Lessons I Learned From My Grandfather.” Proceeds from his speaking engagements will go toward the building of a school for the poorest of the poor children in India.

It is quite appropriate that Gandhi will be speaking at Athey Creek because children are the most important target of his ministry. The event will start at 9:45 a.m., and Joel Sebastian, Athey Creek principal, has invited fifth-grade classes from Stafford and Willamette primary schools to attend the presentation.

Sebastian said, “Our intention is that our students will develop an informed perspective of global issues affecting children in regions around the world, including the local communities in Oregon.”

Etchemendy said, “We have a huge commitment for youth to hear him. Arun feels he has to reach the youth for the world to have a chance for peace. He has a message that is positive and practical and not based on fear.”

Etchemendy has been committed to creating a “spiritual United Nations” at UNITY Center. Last year her church hosted the Day of Peace and Prayer in which 15 faiths celebrated with music, dance and prayer.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Etchemendy said.

Now she has the chance to expand the horizons of her church mission even farther with Gandhi’s appearance.

“There is not a better time than now for his message,” Etchemendy said.

It was Gandhi himself who created the Season for Nonviolence in 1998. It is recognized in 18 countries and nearly 400 cities in the USA.

Tickets for the Marylhurst University event cost $20 and can be purchased at worldhealing.org/peace or at the UNITY Center at 20255 Willamette Drive in West Linn. Gandhi will be speaking in St. Anne’s Chapel at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.