April 19, 2004
By Tricia Schug*
SEATTLE (UMNS) — Sometimes a simple act, like the folding of paper into an origami crane, can make a prayer more tangible.
a native Hawaiian of Japanese descent, the Rev. Bob Hoshibata has
practiced origami, the art of paper-folding, all his life. He finds the
practice provides a “centering” for him — a quiet, meditative way to
keep his hands busy while his mind is focused.
the weeks leading up to the United Methodist Church’s lawmaking
assembly, Hoshibata has been folding cranes. The superintendent of the
church’s Seattle District, he is also a delegate to the gathering.
other members of the Pacific Northwest delegation are folding also.
Together, the delegation plans to fold 1,001 cranes as prayers for peace
before and during General Conference. The assembly meets April 27-May 7
Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of peace and long life. Cranes
are said to live for 1,000 years, so it is a tradition in Japan to fold
1,000 cranes. Hawaiians, who have a tradition of doing more than is
expected, see 1,001 as the number for best wishes of peace.
the devastation of atomic bombs dropped during World War II, people
have folded paper cranes as a prayer for world peace, popularized in a
book about a young girl who died of leukemia caused by exposure to the
Hiroshima bomb. She folded cranes as her wish for healing and for world
General Conference meets, delegates from the Pacific Northwest will
bring colorful origami cranes to give away to other conference
delegates. In taking a crane, delegates are asked to covenant with
others to pray for peace.
consider this a gesture of good will, a way for all of us who choose to
do so to enter into a covenant to pray for peace,” Hoshibata says.
Prayers may be for world peace, for peace within the denomination, or
for inner peace — whatever prayer an individual chooses. “I see it as a
way of ‘passing the peace’ as we would in our worship services.”
are invited to stop by Section A, Row 8, Seats 3-8, take one of the
colorful cranes and write their prayers in a guest book. The Pacific
Northwest delegation and others will then covenant to pray with the
individual for his or her peace concerns.
reason Hoshibata feels a need for peace is because of the recent church
trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann, a Pacific Northwest clergywoman.
Dammann was acquitted of a charge of practices incompatible with
Christian teachings, which stemmed from her disclosure that she is a
have been so many angry words since the verdict, and I have always felt
that when we disagree in the church, we need to continue to be in
dialogue and prayer with one another,” Hoshibata says.
may come to General Conference from war-torn nations or from
communities struggling with violence. Some may come needing inner peace.
Hoshibata says that whatever form of peace people seek, the cranes can
serve as a tangible symbol.
folding of cranes is a symbolic gesture, one that comes from my
cultural roots, and one that says we need to strive for peace even when
it feels impossible,” he says.
the cranes are taken home by others, gradually making their way outward
from Pittsburgh into the many corners of the world where delegates
reside, Hoshibata hopes that the birds will continue to remind people of
the power of prayerful intention to shift perspective and bring about
Pacific Northwest delegation invites those who are not going to General
Conference to also participate in these prayer covenants, either by
folding cranes in their local congregations or by offering daily prayers
is the editor for the United Methodist Church’s Pacific Northwest
Annual (regional) Conference. News media can contact at Tim
Tanton (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.