GLADSTONE, Mich. (WJMN) – Trinity Episocopal Church sits on the corner of 9th Street and Dakota Avenue in Gladstone. Behind the building is meaningful monument, meant to bring unity across numerous communities.

The Hannahville Indian Community, Trinity Episcopal Church of Gladstone, and the Great Lakes Peace Center have worked together to bring a Peace Pole and what it represents to the area.

Bishop Rayford Ray said it began when the church was trying to find something to do for the community of Gladstone.

Dale Jamison is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Gladstone. He said it started by planting a seed. “It started with the labyrinth and then we said the world peace pole, and then we went to the little free library. It just kept getting bigger and bigger. We were able to establish a relationship with Hannahville and it just blossomed into a beautiful tree right now.”

Written on each side of the pole is the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” The pole in Gladstone features the message in the following eight languages: Ojibwa, English, Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese.

Susan Jamison, who is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church said those five words have a lot of power. “Our peace pole in the center signifies our hopes and dreams of our whole human family here on Earth. The message on the pole is written in eight different languages. Those five words are very powerful. We are hoping people in our community and surrounding communities and visitors to the area will come and walk our labyrinth and enjoy the surrounding area and enjoy the serenity they find there. All are welcome.”

In a release from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, it described the common hopes and goals these groups share.

For Sue Gustafson, who works at the Hannahville Health Center, the pole embodies efforts they have made using Native Connections Grants to “help bring people together in an effort to promote healthy connections.” For Trinity Episcopal Church, putting up a Peace Pole arose out of the desire to create a sacred public prayer space on the grounds of the church. And for the Great Lakes Peace Center, it is a step toward one of the goals expressed in their Guiding Pillars, “The act of practicing peace is ultimately about the healing of self, family, neighborhood, town, city.…by celebrating our diversity while honoring our shared humanity.”

Involving Hannahville Indian Community was a necessity said Kathy VandenBoogaard with Great Lakes Peace Center in Rapid River “One of the ways we can start doing that is by acknowledging the land that we are on and that all of that land was inhabited from First Nations people. So when the labyrinth was built and the peace pole was installed, and we were talking about how can we acknowledge this, we talked about have a ground blessing”

Earl Meshigaud is the former Director of Culture, Language, and Heritage for Hannahville Indian Community. Meshigaud said a first hurdle is often one of trust. “When we first start working with other people we have to understand in Indian communities, they always talk about, “oh they’re trying to convert us to be like them. That never came up. And I want to assure people that that’s not the case. We’re not here to convert one or another or each other. That’s not what this is about. It’s about bringing the people together to work together and hopefully heal from some of the past things that have happened.”

Earl Meshigaud shares the history of Gladstone and Escanaba, and talks about rebuilding relationships.

A dedication ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, November 7, 2021, 2:00 PM at Trinity Episcopal Church in Gladstone. The ceremony will feature a sharing of different traditions, including songs, drumming, and prayers. A meal will be shared following the ceremony.

According to the release from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, The pole will stand at the heart of a Labyrinth behind Trinity Episcopal Church. A labyrinth is similar to a maze, but without paths that branch off or dead end. It guides the walker on a long, slow path to the center that allows time for reflection. Labyrinths have used by numerous cultures and religions dating back thousands of years.

A common way to pray in a labyrinth is to focus on worship and praise as you walk toward the center, and then reflect on concerns you have, or a desire to help others, as you walk out. In the case of the Trinity labyrinth, the walker will encounter the Peace Pole when they reach the center. Hopefully, it will encourage reflection upon the idea of World Peace as they walk out.

The dedication is a significant, first joint event between the Hannahville Indian Community and the people of Trinity Episcopal Church. It is just one step, but it shows that steady, hard-earned progress is being made in building positive relationships in Upper Michigan. Relationships that respect the dignity of every human being and progress that promotes peace and unity.

The Peace Pole Project started in Japan and has grown internationally in the decades since it began.