North America: USA – Altar for Peace

Altar for Peace at The Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City, NY

USA • Dedicated in 1986

georgeattableAltar for Peace

“On New Year’s Eve in 1986, in the City of the United Nations George Nakashima placed his first great ecumenical Peace Altar at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The beautiful black walnut altar was blessed that auspicious night by representatives of the religions of the earth before diplomats of many nations. In the ensuing years prayers for peace in all tongues and traditions and by all peoples have been offered there. Mountains of flowers were lovingly placed upon it at the interfaith Memorial Service for George Nakashima in 1990. The second Sacred Peace Table will symbolize the peace that must come to every continent on our sacred planet—the next step in fulfilling the dream of George Nakashima.”

The Very Reverend James Parks Morton. 1989

Dean, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Honorary Chairman, Nakashima Foundation for Peace

The Making of the Table

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George Nakashima contemplating the wood for the first Peace Altar.

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Nakashima staff unloading the great slabs of wood from the truck.

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Measuring the planks as they come off the truck bed.

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Measuring the planks as they come off the truck bed.

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Moving the selected slabs into the shop.

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George Nakashima contemplating the beautiful book-matched planks of the first Peace Altar.

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Master Craftsman James Radcliffe working on the Altar in the shop.

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Working on the base in the shop.

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Applying the base to the top, all hands on deck!

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George Nakashima observing the process.

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Nakashima checking for accuracy.

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George Nakashima admiring the finished Altar in the Arts Building on the Nakashima compound before sending it to New York.

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George Nakashima admiring the finished Altar in the Arts Building on the Nakashima compound before sending it to New York.

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Aerial view of Peace Table

Dedication at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

New York, NY • 1986

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Delivery by flat-bed-truck to the front door of the The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Nakashima had considered the United Nations as a possible site, but said its doors were too small!

George Nakashima with the ecumenical Episcopal Dean James Parks Morton during the midnight dedication, with hundreds of candles held by participants

George and Marion Nakashima after the dedication. They had rented a tour bus to bring their friends to and from New Hope for the event, and celebrated at the Studio on their return.

George Nakashima with his dear friend and supporter of his Peace Altar idea, George Wald, after arrival of the Altar at the Cathedral, a dream come true. Wald was a co-recipient of the “Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine” in 1967, for his work on mechanisms of vision and Higgins Professor of Biology Emeritus at Harvard University. George Wald later wrote colleagues in Russia on behalf of the Peace Table for Russia.

Nakashima and Dean Morton, with candle and incense burning on the Altar.

Celebrating Daily Mass (usually in Spanish) at the Peace Altar in The Cathedral of St. John the Divine after consecration and dedication.

George Wald in The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, quietly contemplating the Altar with bonsai, candle, and Christmas tree in background.

During the ceremony: From left, Marion Nakashima, Mira Nakashima, Steven C. Rockefeller, main benefactor of the Altar project, and George Wald, Nobel Laureate, and supporter of Nakashima’s vision for peace.

Aerial view of Altar for Peace, showing the Eternal Flame from Hiroshima on the column.

Rededication at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

New York, NY • 2009

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine suffered a devastating fire in 2001, and all the artwork was put into storage while the interior was cleaned and restored. As part of the reopening of the Cathedral, the first Nakashima Altar for peace was re-installed and re-dedicated on June 7, 2009. This ecumenical celebration of peace and beauty opened with playing of the great organ while people gathered around the Altar. The Reverend Canon Thomas Miller welcomed all while Native American Tiokasin Ghosthorse played his spirit flute. Paul Winter, the renowned musician, also played his saxophone. Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr. James Kowalski spoke about the Altar as “A Prayer for Peace: a Dream for Humanity.”

The renowned Scott McVay spoke with great insight and passion about “Out of a Dream: the Nakashima Altar of Peace” from the very beginning through its development to reality.

Paul Winter, the renowned musician, also played his saxophone and was spontaneously joined by Tiokasin Ghosthorse on his flute, heightening the sanctity of the moment.

Miriam Belov with Julian Lines in background: Miriam Belov led all in a meditation and an offering of flower petals which her daughter, Madelaine Sara, had given to participants. Mira Nakashima spoke of her father and his living legacy.

The Very Reverend James Parks Morton and Board Member Irene Etkin Goldman laying flower petals together before offering reflections and reciting Peace Quotes originally gathered by them for the dedication of the Sacred Peace Table in Moscow.