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Peterborough’s long-standing peace vigil goes virtual

  • Jim Giddings at the Women's March in Peterborough in 2017. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/13/2020 2:01:22 PM

After nearly two decades of holding a weekly peace vigil on the steps of the Peterborough Town House, a group of residents are looking for ways to keep the tradition alive while not meeting in person, during the predicted height of the coronavirus outbreak.

Jim Giddings of Greenville was one of the founding members of the peace vigil, which began immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The vigil has continued on for an hour every Saturday since. Sometimes, there are only a few members, including Giddings, who has been faithfully attending the vigils every week. Sometimes, there is a surge of participation after a national tragedy.

For the last several weeks, there have only been three members of the group that have been regularly attending the assembly, but it has carried on faithfully, Giddings said in a recent interview. However, as April carries on, and predictions have pinpointed the coming month as the height of the virus’ spread, Giddings said it was time to put an end to even the small gathering that has been happening – at least in person.

“We’re there to be an example, to remind people that we’re fighting wars all over the world and that peace is something we all want. I’m not sure it has the same effect when it’s going against a national resolve to stay indoors,” Giddings said.

Giddings said it is important for the tradition to carry on in some fashion. As of this Saturday, the vigil has moved to a virtual space, as has been the case with many other meetings and performances. On Saturday, Giddings and his wife held a vigil by Zoom, singing and sharing inspirational readings. Future “vigils” could include discuss topic questions, or other way to share fellowship.

There were only two participants in the first virtual gathering, but Giddings said that is sometimes the case in person, too, and the meetings will continue on no matter how many or few people sign in.

“It’s a matter of spiritual commitment that I’ve made,” Giddings said, about why he wants the vigils to continue, even if it’s only virtually. “I’m older, I’m not particularly strong, I can’t get arrested in civil disobedience demonstrations, I’m not able to travel widely or take part in large demonstrations. This is something manageable and something I can remain committed to. The world is in chaos again, in another way, but that isn’t enough reason to stop what we’re doing. It’s important.”

The virtual meetings are scheduled to happen on Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m., the same time the peace vigil is usually held in person. The meetings and how to join are expected to be posted on the Peterborough Area Cares During COVID-19, Monadnock Quaker Meeting and NH Peace Action Facebook pages.


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