Though expressed in different languages, the same message was pronounced 168 times on slender, square-shaped, spear-tipped wood poles standing 7 feet tall: May peace prevail on Earth.
Two peace poles for each of the 84 countries that will be represented at the Olympics were dedicated at a multicultural, interfaith service at the East Millcreek Christ Methodist Church attended by more than 200 people Sunday afternoon — a day before the birthday of peace and civil-rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
"I was a 16-year-old teenager when my father and I walked with what seemed like millions" to the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, said Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr. of the United Methodist Church Rocky Mountain Conference. Brown delivered the sermon.
"I listened to this man tell a dream. A dream that was an infectious dream" because King called all people to love and respect, Brown said.
Brown emphasized the need for hospitality, a virtue important to peace and timely for the upcoming Winter Games. Hospitality requires individuals to open doors to strangers. "We have different-sounding names and different places that we recall, but we all share the same story," Brown said.
The dedication included a Zen Buddhist peace ritual using bells, incense and chanters. Congregation Kol Ami's Rabbi Fredrick Wenger interspersed English with Hebrew when he asked the Lord to "strengthen the bonds of friendship and fellowship in all nations." Acharya Dwivedi sang a Hindu peace prayer by Mahatma Gandhi twice. First he sang alone, the second time some in the audience joined.
"Peace is not only possible but inevitable," Gloria Talebreza read from a statement by the Baha'i Community. "It is the next stage in the evolution of the planet."
Elder Ray Beckham, Olympic volunteer for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke of the righteous ruler King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon. He told his people to repent, keep God's commandments and they "will not have a mind to injure one another but to live peacefully," he said.
God created all people good and evil. "The Olympics is a showcase to show the world that the good in us can overcome the evil," Khaja Shuaib Din Muslim of the Utah Islamic Society said.
The 168 poles dedicated Sunday will be added to 2,000 others throughout the world. Sunday's dedication was the largest thus far in the Peace Pole Project, started in 1955, said David Randle, a project organizer.
"It was very meaningful and beautiful," Linda Herrick, Salt Lake City, said when the dedication finished. "It gives me new hope for peace."
On Feb. 3, Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson will open the Olympic Peace Pole Path. One of each county's two peace poles will be displayed in front of the Salt Lake City-County Building.
Each country's second peace pole will go home with the Olympic athletes.