By appearance, by culture and by religion, the differences among the 300 people in sneakers gathered yesterday outside a North Philadelphia mosque were clear-cut.
As they prepared to walk more than three miles to promote peace, however, they were reminded of their Scripture-based similarities - an instruction to pursue love and justice.
"The truth is not what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears," said Vince Compher, founder of the annual Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation. "The truth is what goes on in our hearts."
After worship at the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, the marchers went to St. Peter's Church in Northern Liberties. From there, they headed to Christ Church in Old City before walking to Independence Mall and on to Society Hill Synagogue.
At each stop, they prayed, sang, and learned the lessons of peace taught by each faith. Each stop reinforced the message that harmony among all groups is possible.
Compher, a member of the Tabernacle United Church in West Philadelphia, created the local walk three years ago after hearing about a similar event in New Mexico.
The group wore white shirts and carried signs with salaam, shalom, and other variations of the word peace.