CALENDAR OF EVENTS
UPF Interfaith Assembly Held in Seoul
Written by Dr. Michael Balcomb, UPF-International
Saturday, October 9, 2010
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Seoul, Korea - The UPF Interfaith Assembly opened in Seoul on Oct. 9, 2010, at the Cheon Bok Gung, the Unification community’s inspiring new sanctuary in the up-and-coming district of Yongsan. Around 1200 people came early on a Saturday morning to participate in a moving ceremony of prayers and readings from seven different faith traditions: Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Druze, Shinto, Christianity, and Buddhism.
One by one, faith leaders from around the world came to the microphone to call upon God to bestow His grace. First was Sheikh Samir Assi, the Imam of Acco, who sang in Arabic the hauntingly beautiful words of the Al-Fatihah sura that begins the Qur'an:
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds,
The Beneficent, the Merciful,
Owner of the Day of Judgment.
Thee alone we worship; Thee alone we ask for help.
Just a few weeks ago, Imam Assi hosted Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, the UPF International Chairman, and his wife Yeon Ah Lee, during their August visit to the Holy Land for the Middle East Peace Initiative. This was a pleasant opportunity to return the favor to Imam Assi and several other religious leaders who participated in the MEPI program, including Father Demetri Mussa from the Greek Catholic Church and Sheikh Gaber Mansur from the Druze Community.
Other religious leaders included Prithpal Singh Khalsa, a Sikh from Switzerland; Thakur Prasad Baral, a Hindu from Nepal; Pastor Rolando Hernandez from Panama; Rev. Sarah Abimbola Sobo from Nigeria; and two Buddhists: the Ven. Jisho Shizuka from Japan and the Ven. Yong Wha Na, the Supreme Patriarch of the Korean Buddhist Imje Order.
Following the ceremony, congratulatory remarks were offered by Dr. Hamdi Murad, a member of the UPF Presiding Council and a leading Islamic scholar from Jordan; Dr. Po Ya Chang, President of UPF-Taiwan; and the Rt. Hon. Parmanada Jha, the Vice President of Nepal.
“Religion has the solution for each and every problem of the human being,” said Nepal’s Vice-President, “but it has to be understood nicely and implemented properly in life. Religion does not teach us to fight amongst ourselves. All the religions of this world and all the religious scriptures teach us only one thing, to love our neighbor.”
In his keynote speech, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon took the opportunity to elaborate on the vision of his father and UPF Founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon for an interfaith council to be incorporated into the structure of the United Nations.
“In a speech he delivered at the United Nations, just prior to the Millennium General Assembly, my father explained that the UN would not be able to fulfill its mission without creating a council that would uphold the spiritual wisdom and heritage of humanity,” he said. “That council would represent God’s guidance for all of us, functioning as a spiritual compass and conscience.”
Peace cannot come through institutions alone, the UPF Chairman noted. “When we are lacking in spiritual discipline and wisdom, peace is not possible,” he said. “Peace arises when we are in a right relationship with God, when our mind and body are united. If we are people of internal struggle, selfishness, and sin, then all our efforts in this world will bear no good fruit, and will only lead to struggle and conflict.”
Consultation on the UPF Proposal Interreligious Council at the United Nations
Following the World Peace Blessing on October 10, the Interfaith Assembly delegates turned their attention to the UPF proposal for an interreligious council at the United Nations. First proposed by UPF Founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon back in August 2000, the proposal has been the focus of new interest in 2010, with interreligious consultations being held in several nations, including Great Britain, Switzerland, Sierra Leone, New Zealand, and Canada.
A distinguished panel gathered in the International Conference Center at Sun Moon University, a room which is laid out in a style reminiscent of United Nations meeting halls. The presenters included Dr. Golam Dastigir, visiting professor at the University of Toronto; Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, the UPF Deputy-Director of UN Relations based in Geneva; Rev. Thorhallur Heimisson, from the National Church of Iceland; H.E. Asda Jayanama, former Ambassador of Thailand to the UN; H.E. Akira Matsui, former Ambassador of Japan to Kazakhstan; and Dr. Concepcion Pinos, from the UNESCO College of Peace in Spain.
AP coverage of the World Peace Blessing ceremony on October 10:
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