vigil

A peace vigil in North Conway’s Schouler Park is led by Jamie Gemmiti (seated on ground) and John Skelton (center). The event was sponsored by their newly formed group, Being Peace MWV. (PAUL KLENK PHOTO)

CONWAY — On Wednesday, most of the nation welcomed the start of the Joe Biden administration. In honor of that event, a group gathered in North Conway’s Schouler Park for a prayer vigil at 10 a.m. It was organized by the newly formed group Being Peace MWV (Mount Washington Valley).

Led by former Sun photographer Jamie Gemmiti of Intervale and longtime local teacher and coach John Skelton of Freedom, the gathering in the park mentioned nothing about politics but was held for participants to focus on their inner peace and about bringing peace to the nation and world.

Despite snow on the ground and temperatures in the high 20s, the prayer circle of about eight formed and the participants silently meditated.

A bell was rung by Gemmiti three times at the start and twice at the end of the half-hour seated meditation, after which the participants followed Gemmiti and Skelton to sign messages of hope on a “prayer tree” and picked up signs bearing such messages as “Peace Within,” “Teach Peace” and “Peace Unites” to take part in a walking meditation.

Those signs had also been carried a march sponsored by the group to the park Monday to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

After Wednesday’s vigil, Skelton shared some thoughts about what many hope will be a more peaceful era for America, following the jarring insurrection at the Capitol by Trump supporters Jan. 6 in an effort to overturn Biden’s win.

“I think it is particularly important that today being inauguration day in light of recent events for America to have peace,” said Skelton. “It is my conviction that peace begins within each one of us.”

The event ended at 11:45 a.m., in time for participants to view the inauguration, with Kamala Harris sworn in as the first female vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, followed by President Biden being sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts shortly before noon.

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