Religious leaders talk peace

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— If your sense of peace does not go beyond yourself, your peace is lacking, Steamboat Springs religious leaders agreed Thursday.

The leaders came together on a panel for a public forum held at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. The forum's topic was peace.

The panel brought together religious leaders who are part of the Interfaith group, which has been meeting since 2004. At first, the leaders met at one another's places of worship as a way to create understanding among the faiths. Then, in January, the group had its first public forum about whether religion causes division.

Participants in the panel were Pastor Larry Oman and Pastoral Associate Tim Selby of the United Methodist Church; Bishop Paul Stewart of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Pastor Jon Bixby of the First Baptist Church; Sister Faith Hansen of Holy Name Catholic Church; Rabbi Joe Goldman of Har Mishpacha, Steamboat's Jewish community; and Tim Olmstead of the Buddhist Center of Steamboat Springs.

Selby said that the sense of peace is lacking for someone who sees peace as only an individual aspect. People should join the common, worldwide quest for peace, he said. Most of the other leaders said they agreed.

Bixby said there are many ways to look at peace, whether it is circumstantial or not. He said that people cannot find peace if they don't know God. That is the starting point in the search for peace, he said.

Goldman said two phrases -- one in Arabic, the other in Hebrew --eferring to peace sound alike. But look at the relationship between the religions associated with those languages, he said; Muslims and Jewish people have a long, violent history. That is symbolic of the struggle to find peace, Goldman said.

Peace involves depth of transformation, Hansen said, making it a time-consuming aspiration.

"Does it happen instantly? No. It doesn't happen instantly," she said.

A person gets to peace, she said, through honesty, integrity, forgiveness and reconciliation. Honesty, for example, can be found through prayer, meditation, contemplation and the support of others.

Stewart also agreed that peace starts with forgiveness. He said that includes forgiving spouses, neighbors and those of different faiths.

People can be so focused on their faith that they forget that people of other faiths are searching for peace, Olmstead said.

"I think that what concerns me," he said, "is that we can get ourselves to the point that we're so sure that we're right."

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