Statement of Peace has 500+ signatures!

Published June 20, 2017

peace dove

The Statement of Peace is a covenant toward kind and peaceful interactions with one another brought to the Washington County community by Dr. Salih V. Yumlu, HARC and the Interfaith Coalition in February 2016. Since then more than 500 people have signed this document agreeing to live out the statement to the best of their abilities.  We encourage anyone of any faith or no faith to sign the document and live out its purpose.  In a time of deep divisions and uncivilized discourse, this is an opportunity to create unity, peace, respectful dialogue, and kindness.

Will you enter with us into a covenant of peace?

Please download the

Statement of Peace

Statement of Peace for group signatures

Please sign and return to us at, or HARC, P.O. Box 1158, Hagerstown, MD 21741-1158.  Be sure to keep a copy for yourself and others who signed!!

How to Live out the Statement of Peace

Even as we sign the Statement of Peace, vowing to engage in respectful and kind interactions with those whom we may disagree, we still struggle with how to do this ourselves, how to encourage kindness in others, and how to stand up with and for those who are victims of persecution and general unkindness.  In order to learn better how to live out the Statement of Peace, we have offered the following trainings/events/community dialogues:

Be Brave Enough to Start a Conversation that Matters:  A conversation with neighbors
Scheduled for Thursday, June 22, 2017.  Learn more…

How to respond and deescalate challenging situations – training by the Hagerstown Police Department.   May 2017.   See notes

Hagerstown Interfaith Candle Vigil For Unity and Peace – March 2017

HARC & Interfaith Coalition shared meeting – January 2017.  A panel of local religious leaders and members of the African American and Hispanic communities shared their views of the health of our religious and racial climate.

Biblical basis for peaceful dialogue

Psalm 34

12 (11) Come, children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of Adonai.
13 (12) Which of you takes pleasure in living?
Who wants a long life to see good things?
14 (13) [If you do,] keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from deceiving talk;
15 (14) turn from evil, and do good;
seek peace, go after it!

James 3

(The Message (MSG) version)

When You Open Your Mouth

1-2 Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.

3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

10-12 My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

Live Well, Live Wisely

13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

Background and more info on the Statement of Peace:

Link to article in Herald-Mail

The Statement of Peace began with a modest proposal by Dr. Salih V. Yumlu, a member of the Islamic Society of Washington County and of the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County, that we join in a covenant not to speak in derogatory ways about persons of faith traditions different from our own and that we strive to live in peace with one another.  An original Statement of Peace was written by Dr. Yumlu and Rev. Don Stevenson, revised by leaders of Hagerstown Area Religious Council (HARC) and the Interfaith Coalition, and presented at a joint meeting of HARC and Interfaith Coalition in January.  It has since gone through many changes, with input from a wide variety of clergy and members of the faith community, to be a document we believe anyone can sign on to and make a commitment to peace.  Interfaith Coalition and HARC have begun asking for signatures, with quite a few people signing on at last week.

With so much anger and hatred expressed toward people of other faiths, particularly Muslims, we feel it is an urgent matter to speak out in our community and encourage healthy and peaceful dialogue in Washington County.  We are now asking the community to commit to peaceful interactions with people of different faiths and to commit to think about the words we use and not speak in demeaning ways about other people and other faiths.  While we may not be able to inspire world peace, we can at least foster and model peace in our own community by standing together as a witness and example to the community.

We hope you will join us!  And we pray that people throughout Washington County will sign the Statement of Peace and make a personal commitment to speaking kindly and seeking to find the good and commonalities in others regardless of our differences.

For further information and insights, please contact Rev. Ed Poling or Rev. Gregg Meserole:

Rev. Ed Poling
Interfaith Coalition of Washington County

Rev. Gregg Meserole
Hagerstown Area Religious Council (HARC)


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