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UPF-Africa Leaders Kathy Rigney and Paterne Zinsou Awarded Honorary Doctorates

Cotonou, Benin - Katherine Rigney, Regional Chair of UPF-Africa, and Paterne Zinsou, UPF West Africa 1 Sub Regional Director, received honorary doctorates from the New Covenant International University and Theological Seminary of Florida in the United States at a convocation at the Riviera Hotel in Cotonou on November 30.

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Dr. Katherine Rigney, who was sent by Rev. Sun Myung Moon to West Africa in 1975 and has devoted most of her life since then to Africa, was unable to attend and was represented by Dr. Helen Mabel Osei, Secretary General of UPF-Ghana. Dr. Paterne S. L. Zinsou is Sub-Regional Director of UPF's West Africa 1 Region, which includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Togo, and Chad.

The doctorate degrees honoring their work for a culture of peace, universal values, character education, and service to humanity were presented by Professor Edwin Korley, Vice President of the International Institute of Theology, representing the university.

The ceremony was held in partnership with the government Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Minister in Charge of Relations with Institutions. The Benin government was represented by the Deputy Vice Minister, Dr. Yebeni Kouagou, of the Ministry of Higher Education. The Minister was attending a funeral and sent his congratulations through his representative. Former ministers, former parliamentarians, university professors, and academic deans from many private and national universities were present in support of the event, along with several high officials and Ambassadors for Peace.

The convocation leader was Dr. Kenneth Balogoun, a dean of a private university in Benin. The ceremony began with a procession of awardees followed by university officials, with the audience standing. The Supreme Evangelist Henock Foundohou of the Christian Celestial Church, Dr. Balogoun, offered an opening prayer. The Opening Remarks were given by Professor Kogblevi Aziadome, former Minister of the Environment and Habitat, writer, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of UPF-Benin. His speech was translated into French by Mr. Serge Gueli, former Secretary General of UPF-Benin.

Then Professor Korley stated that Mrs. Katherine Rigney and Mr. Paterne Zinsou had fulfilled the university's criteria for honorary doctorates and announced: “By the authority vested in me as the Representative of the President of our university and in the name of the Council and Senate, I confer on Katherine Rigney the Honorary Doctorate of Missions and on Paterne Zinsou the Honorary Doctorate of Ministry." Professor Korley stated that the university recognizes and places value on "God-fearing men and women of integrity who have affected and are still affecting, effecting, and positively influencing their generations in their various fields of calling and endeavor" by honoring their selfless and dedicated service to both the church and humanity. He invited Dr. Kouagou to present the certificates, while he shook their hands.

Brief speeches were given by Professor Jean-Baptiste Mensah, Dean of the University of Technical Science, and Dr. Kouagou. They congratulated the awardees, especially Dr. Rigney for her missionary life in Africa.

Dr. Zinsou was invited to give a response. On behalf of Dr. Rigney, he thanked the New Covenant International University and Theological Seminary and promised to invest more of his time, his life, and his heart to serve God’s providence together with Dr. Rigney and others who are working for the sake of humanity. He promised to promote character education in society and the school curriculum.

In his closing remarks, Professor Aziadome noted the need to celebrate people of probity and integrity during their life and uplift the value of integrity as the fundamental virtue of leadership.

The Secretary General of UPF-Benin, Mr. Nestor Atindehou, and the Secretary General of UPF-Togo, Mr. Kagny Dieudonne, were present, along with Unification Church leaders of Benin, Andre Degbevi and his wife, and Togo, Rev. Kokou Henyon. Among the many Unification leaders and members were the head of the Women's Federation for World Peace in Benin, Mrs. Adele Dada, and former Vice President of the Unification Church in Burkina Faso, Rev. Harouna Nonguierma.