Earth Caravan and the Flame of Hope visits Sumter County

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, January 26, 2022

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BY:  Laura Bauer McConatha

Mattie Stepanek Foundation with Earth Caravan delegation

Two Sumter County organizations received visits from the Earth Caravan last week. Earth Caravan is a global interfaith pilgrimage whose mission is to share peace, happiness, and healing in the world through words, art, music, shiatsu therapy and inter­religious prayers.

The mayor of Hiroshima granted the Caravan special permission to bring the Hiroshima Peace Flame on the Caravan’s voyage from Japan to North America and the Middle East. This “Flame of Hope” was taken from one of the flames that burned continuously after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. Other historical and sacred flames from around the earth have now been added to it to symbolize “One Earth, One Humanity, One Flame”. According to Earth Caravan, the flame is a prayer for peace and is a physical manifestation of humankind’s common hope for peace.

Kim Fuller and the Flame of Hope

The flame arrived in Georgia for a ceremony at the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta on January 16. Steve Leeper, Founder of Peace Cultural Village in Hiroshima, and liaison for the Americus/Konu sister city exchange, arranged for stops in Plains and Americus the following day. Kim Fuller of the Friends of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site welcomed the Flame of Hope in Plains, and Jeni Stepanek and Barry and Laura McConatha of the Mattie Stepanek Foundation welcomed the Flame in Americus. The Flame then traveled north to the Mattie J.T.

Mama Peace Jeni Stepanek adds her prayer to the Flame of Hope

Stepanek Park in Rockville, Maryland on its way to the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.

“We are all honored to have been asked to place our personal prayers into the Flame of Hope,” said Laura. “Knowing that there are people all over the world united in purpose for peace keeps hope for a better tomorrow alive in our hearts.”

For more information about the Flame of Hope, visit:

For more information about Friends of the Jimmy Carter National Historic site, visit:

For more information about the Mattie Stepanek Foundation, visit: