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New seeds of peace planted in the Dunes

September 12, 2004

Deepa Bharath

Pearl Rothman laughs when she talks about her 2-year-old son as a

product of Sept. 11.

"My husband and I were stuck in Canada that time," she said. "We

couldn't leave because our flights were canceled."

But on Saturday, the San Clemente resident and her family came to

Newport Dunes to cherish a more peaceful time at the Celebration of

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Peace, an all-day event organized by six churches.

This is the first year of the event, which fell on Sept. 11 by

chance because it was the only day the venue was available to

organizers, said Rev. Jim Turrell, pastor of the Costa Mesa Center

for Spiritual Discovery.

But the coincidence made the event more special, he said.

"Teaching and spreading the word about peace in the memory of the

victims of Sept. 11 would be the greatest way to honor them," he

said.

The event -- which hundreds were expected to attend -- focused on

children, Turrell said.

"Peace starts with our children, it starts at home," he said. "If

we can plant that seed in them when they are young, it bodes well for

our future."

Although the event is organized by what Turrell calls "new-thought

churches," it's not about religion, he said.

"We didn't want to make it about religion," he said. "It's more of

an event focusing on spiritual principles, like doing something

positive in your community.

"A lot of people give up on peace too easily thinking that it's

too big an issue for them. But it's not. People can make a difference

as individuals."

The event also featured guest speakers, including actor James

Cromwell, music, booths and activities for children from puppet shows

to face-painting. Parts of the event took place under a large white

tent.

Rothman said her children look at such an event as an opportunity

to sow the seeds of peace in their hearts, even though they don't

completely understand the larger implications.

Right next to where Rothman was sitting, several children were

painting and writing messages of peace on rocks. They take the rock

home with them to remind them about the message of peace, said

Elizabeth Lankster, who was running the rock-painting booth.

"It will hopefully make them aware that if they each take heart

and think about peace, it'll spread around," she said.

Peace begins at home, said Barbara Everett, a visitor from Lake

Forest.

"How can we have world peace if we don't have peace in our homes,

communities and schools?" she said. "These churches getting together

instead of competing against one another in itself is an expression

of peace."

Joseph Figueroa, 15, from Lake Forest, said the event was a way

for children and teens to learn about peace in a safe and fun

environment.

"This is a great [venue] because just being here is peaceful," he

said. "It reminds you to stay calm and not get stressed out. If

everyone is at peace, the world is at peace."

* DEEPA BHARATH is the enterprise and general assignment reporter.

She may be reached at (949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at

deepa.bharath@latimes.com.

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