Union College to unveil Peace Sculpture Garden

In a world where war and chaos become increasingly the norm, students on Union College’s campus took the week of April 5-9 to focus on peace. On Friday, April 9, at 1:00 p.m., the school will unveil of a Peace Sculpture Garden in the Ortner Center at Union College to promote the cause of peace.

Located in one of the main thoroughfares of campus life, “This Peace Sculpture Garden provides artistic reminders of the peace that can exist between people everywhere,” according to Chris Blake, associate professor of English and communication.

The unveiling culminates Peace Week on Union’s campus, a week of special presentations and events planned by Blake's Conflict and Peacemaking Class and the Peace and Social Justice Club dedicated to the four steps of the peacemaking process: dialogue, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation.

“Peacemaking is a large and treasured part of what it means to be truly Christian,” said Blake. “The difference between being a peace lover and a peacemaker is the difference between loving money and making money.”

The event will include remarks by former Lincoln mayor, Coleen Seng; Don Tilley, founder of The Prairie Peace Park; and David Smith, president of Union College.

Amanda Clark, a senior graphic design major and a member of the Peace and Social Justice Club, created one of the sculptures.

“I knew that we needed a sculpture,” Clark explained. “I also had to make a metal sculpture for a class I’m in. So I ended up making this specifically for the sculpture garden.” The sculpture, a large steel book with pages swirling up into doves, depicts how education helps to bring about peace.

“I grew up instilled with the idea that you need to help other people,” said Clark. “So when I heard about organizations that are doing these things, it just clicked for me to get involved.”

Clark and her fellow students created variety of activities throughout the week to help students better understand the four steps to peacemaking. “We’re following the call found in the official church statement ‘A Seventh-day Adventist Call for Peace,’” said Blake. “It says that ‘each of [Seventh-day Adventism’s] more than 6,000 schools, colleges, and universities is being asked to set aside one week each school year to emphasize and highlight, through various programs, respect, cultural awareness, nonviolence, peacemaking, conflict resolution, and reconciliation as a way of making a specifically “Adventist” contribution to a culture of social harmony and peace.’”

About the sculptures

“Peace Plow” carries the scars of past weapons. Isaiah 2:4 proclaims, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into fishing hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Sculpture by Greg Worthan)

“The Wall” is an actual piece of the Berlin Wall. This wire symbolizes walls that stand between people—barriers of prejudice and hatred. Like that wall in Berlin, these barriers can be broken down and peacefully removed.

“Prince of Peace” shows Jesus of Nazareth, the one who brings gracious harmony to our weary, hostile, strife-torn world. “Love your enemies,” He commands us. “Peace I give to you.” (Sculpture by Victor Issa, 1980 graduate of Union College)

“Liberation” depicts the power of education to lift all people above prisons of superstition and ignorance. Every person is endowed by the Creator with the freeing ability to think and to do. (Sculpture by Amanda Clark, senior graphic design major at Union College)

A marker accompanying the sculptures says: “While nations and people will often try to defend themselves by responding militarily—which sometimes results in short-term success—violence does not build enduring solutions. From both a Christian and a practical perspective, any lasting peace involves at least four ingredients: dialogue, justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation.”