The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts serves as a model for religious organizations, communities, and individuals seeking non-violent, pacifist pathways to peace and social justice. Members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows became familiar with its work when they held a planning retreat there in August, 2002. We adopted Stonewalk, originated by the Peace Abbey in 1999, as one of our major projects in 2004, finding it a powerful vehicle for promoting our mission of calling attention to civilian victims of terrorism, violence and war. Peaceful Tomorrows was given the Peace Abbey’s “Courage of Conscience” award by Kathy Kelly in a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Apostle in New York City in August, 2004. We participated in Stonewalk Japan in 2005 and Stonewalk Korea in 2007.
The Peace Abbey offers a variety of programs and resources that teach, inspire and encourage one to speak out and act on issues of peace and social justice. Faith in action is the cornerstone of its fellowship and activist pacifism is its creed.
The main Peace Abbey building houses the Chapel and Guesthouse. The Multi-Faith Chapel offers a sacred environment, which holds the symbols, icons, sculptures, and prayers from the twelve major faith traditions. The Bed and Breakfast, offers beautiful, quiet village center accommodations in the tradition of a New England Retreat Center.
The front building is the Conference Center where weddings and special services are held as well as training in peace education, cruelty-free living and nonviolent civil disobedience. At the center of the main room is The Peacemakers Table, around which have gathered many dedicated peace activists, including Mother Teresa, Howard Zinn, Maya Angelou, David Dellinger, Muhammad Ali, Daniel Berrigan, Barry Crimmins, Thich Nhat Hanh, to name a few. You can read some of the gracious endorsements of The Peace Abbey made by some of these visitors.
This building also houses The Pacifist Living History Museum, containing relics, personal affects, manuscripts and documents placed at the Abbey by members of the Peace Movement, friends and supporters. Each Sunday morning from 10 to 11 AM, the Peace Abbey holds a prayer and meditation service in the Quaker room on the first floor of the Conference Center. Everyone committed to a peaceful life is invited to share in the Pacifist Service. It is a time for those who have been involved in the work of peace and social justice to renew, connect and share the sense of peace that comes through gathered silence.
Also the Conference Center houses the Greater Boston Vegetarian Resource Center, including a vast vegan and vegetarian social and culinary library of books and materials. While on the subject of reading materials, the Conference Center also contains a section of The Peace and Social Justice Library, a comprehensive resource of books and videos.
In the lower floor of the Conference Center is the Peace Abbey Coffeehouse, a unique venue for performances, recitals, gatherings, and musical concerts. Among the regular performers in the Coffeehouse are Magical Strings and “house-band” Woodwork.
Next to the large globe is the National Registry for Conscientious Objection which was created at The Peace Abbey following the war in the Persian Gulf in early 1991. The National Registry provides men and women of all ages with an opportunity to register their objection to personal, national, and international violence.
Visitors to the Peace Abbey are welcome to visit Emily’s Roadhouse which seats 35 people in rustic booths in the barn area where Emily the Cow lived for 8 years. This venue features a stage for musical performances throughout the summer months
Daily, dozens of people devoted to peacemaking walk the walls of the Pacifist Memorial, reading the quotes from men and women who lived their lives as pacifists and activists. Some names will be familiar such as Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead, Dr. King and Jesus, while others will be less familiar and offer an opportunity for visitors to learn more about nonviolence and the rich American tradition of pacifism.
Follow the path from the Pacifist Memorial, and visitors come face to face with a life-size bronze sculpture of Emily the Cow, erected over the burial site of the 2 year old, infertile dairy cow who escaped from the killing floor of the local slaughterhouse in 1995. Surrounding the statue are inspirational quotes from animal rights activists and notable practitioners of cruelty-free living: this is the The Sacred Cow Animal Rights Memorial. Emily passed away March 2003. She was a friend and teacher to many who sought her companionship and is dearly missed by everyone at the Peace Abbey and many of our visitors.
Cast your gaze away from the bronze statue of Emily, and you will see the Conscientious Objectors Hill of Remembrance and the stately memorial stone. The Peace Abbey provides a cemetery for the cremation remains of conscientious objectors. The ashes of numerous dedicated COs have been buried here.
Children and adults love to visit the animal in the Veganpeace Animal Sanctuary.
Dotted all over the Peace Abbey building are numerous photographs of our honored guests and the many who have been awarded the Courage of Conscience Award.
About five miles away in the Town of Millis, MA is The Life Experience School, an alternative high school and adult Special Peace Corps for those with life challenges. This small day program for young special needs activists created the Peace Abbey, all its programs and the very essence of selfless service to others. The property of the Abbey is owned by the Life Experience School which is certified by the Department of Developmental Services.
Peace Abbey Foundation website CLICK HERE.
Stonewalk the Documentary Web site: http://www.progressivepictures.com/introduction.html