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Climbing a Holy Mountain for Peace

By Ruth Broyde Sharone

Report from Mt. Baldy, California

In response to world crises, spiritual pilgrims often ascend mountains, sacred heights, for prayer, fasting, discernment, and ceremony. For the past three years people from different faiths have joined in an interfaith peace ritual on Mount Baldy, in the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California, sponsored by the Aetherius Society. Rev. Paul Nugent, a director of the Society, describes it as "a unique event to draw together pilgrims of all ages and all walks of life. We walk together, climb together, sing together, and pray together for world peace."

The Peace Pilgrimage takes place simultaneously on three levels of the mountain, calibrated for easy-climbing, moderate climbing, with the most challenging climb reserved for the intrepid. It takes several hours to complete, often under a hot sun. Pilgrims choose which level ceremony they wish to attend. Level one is reached by a ski lift. At each of the three ceremonies, representatives from the various religions are invited to participate by bringing an offering of prayer, song, or meditation.

The Mt. Baldy pilgrimage, now an annual event, was launched in 2009 as a pre-Parliament event in solidarity with other pre-Parliament events prior to the Parliament of the World’s Religions later that year in Melbourne, Australia. Since then, as the word spread, the peace pilgrimage has attracted greater numbers of participants each year. This year, on July 28, 250 people took part. Organizers expect to attract even more participants next year. To learn more about the pilgrimage, visit World Peace Pilgrimage.