Photo courtesy of Phil Davis

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partnered with Building Leaders 4 Peace (BL4P) and Fresno Pacific University to host a peace camp in Fresno, California for young adults to learn and experience peace together among Islamic and Christian faith backgrounds.  

The passion for peace and unity in Fresno, California continues even after one month of the Building Leaders 4 Peace camp. It may have been small group represented at the camp, but it left an intense - lasting impact on those who attended. 

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partnered with Building Leaders 4 Peace (BL4P) and Fresno Pacific University to host a peace camp in Fresno for young adults to learn and experience peace together among Islamic and Christian faith backgrounds. 

The camp was held June 27 - July 2, 2018 for the first time in the United States on the campus of Fresno Pacific University.  

Eleven participants experienced a week-long camp of learning and serving the Fresno, community together in an interfaith, intercultural, multiracial environment. Young adults had an opportunity to share perspectives, learn about peace, and serve in the Fresno community together.  Most importantly, build authentic friendships with those they might have not ever considered friendships with before.

"There is still a lot of work to do to bring the diverse communities together in Fresno," says Thomas Adlard.

Adlard, one of the main organizers for the event, believes that peace can happen in Fresno, but we need to be inclusive of all groups. He explains that so much more work that can be accomplished when different community groups are represented and their voices are heard.

Building Leaders 4 Peace group activities

Thomas Adlard, center, leads group team-building activities on the topic of collaboration.   Zakee Naqvi, left, from Fresno, Calif., enjoyed trying to solve the human knot game with the rest of the participants.Photo courtesy of Angel Leon

Participants Miyoba, Zakee, Kent and Jeremiah (left to right) work together to solve team building games.  .Photo courtesy of Angel Leon

As a way to celebrate diversity, BL4P participants create team flags that represent team member's name description and meaning.  Clare Casey works on creating a flag for her team.Photo courtesy of Angel Leon

BL4P hosted a "Sharing Our Stories" event for BL4P participants and Fresno area community members to share stories of experiences of conflict in their lives. Many chose to bravely share in front of the group.  Adlard believes that type of courage and vulnerability that was shown when people shared their stories helped accelerate the process of building relationships across typical social and religious boundaries. 

"I was impacted most by how committed the participants were to this process." explains Adlard.  "Every participant was willing to be vulnerable and made the conscious effort to engage with everyone."

Sikh Center of the Pacific Coast

Saji Oommen (right) helps tie a head covering for Jeremiah (left) as the group prepares to observe the service at the Sikh Gurdwara of Selma.Photo courtesy of Angel Leon

Participants were warmly welcomed at the Sikh Center of the Pacific Coast in Selma, California during their visit.  

"They are very hospitable and have a strong passion to serve the community", explains Adlard.  "They wish that more people knew they were there to help and provide aid to those in need…they hope people can feel comfortable going to a Gurdwara if they are ever in need."

The group listens to a Gurdwara congregant explain the traditions and practices of their Sunday services.  Photo courtesy of Angel Leon

This photo was taken inside of the Sikh Center of the Pacific Coast in Selma, Calfornia.Photo courtesy of Phil Davis

Phil Davis (left) listens to Daniel (right) share about his beliefs and experiences as a Sikh believer in the United States.Photo courtesy of Angel Leon

The BL4P group had an opportunity to listen community organizer, Sukaina Hussain talk about collaboration, community principles and the power of peaceful public demonstration when it comes to social change. 

Protesting the separation of families at the Mexican border

Estela, Miyoba, Zakee and Sukaina (left to right) prepare to participate in a peaceful protest for not separating immigrant families at the Mexican border.Photo courtesy of Angel Leon 

The group hold up signs protesting the separation of immigrant families on the Mexican border.Photo courtesy of Angel Leon. 

Kent Enomoto proudly shows his sign for protesting the separation of immigrant families.Photo courtesy of Angel Leon

Community neighborhood clean-up event

BL4P participants cleaning up neighborhood alleys in Fresno, California. Photo courtesy of Phil Davis

As a shared commitment to partnership and peace, Christian and Muslims participants work together and serve their community by cleaning up neighborhood alleys in Fresno.  

BL4P participants and Fresno neighborhood residents pose for a group photo.Photo courtesy of Phil Davis