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|Day of Peace Observed in Bonn, Dusseldorf, Munich, and Stuttgart|
|By UPF - Germany|
|Saturday, September 17, 2011|
International Day of Peace observances took place in Bonn, Dusseldorf, Munich, and Stuttgart, the latter culminating with the inauguration of a “House of Religions."
Bonn - A colorful group of people from Asia, Africa, and Europe celebrated the International Day of Peace in Bonn in response to the invitation of the local chapter of the Universal Peace Federation for a gathering on Sunday, September 25. There were presentations on “Peace One Day” (which was started by Jeremy Gilley), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message for the day, and the worldwide activities of UPF related to the International Day of Peace 2010. Beautiful songs, peace prayers from different parts of the world, and the short film “One Truth, Many Paths” touched the hearts of the audience.
Dusseldorf - In celebration of the UN International Day of Peace, September 21, several events were organized by UPF in Düsseldorf. The night before, there was an interreligious gathering for prayer that included a Hindu meditation and peace prayer. The participants experienced that peace can be found inside of every person and in silence, even after a stressful working day.
Munich - In cooperation with the Association of Islamic Cultural Centres, UPF-Munich organized an interreligious peace prayer on September 21 in the public rooms of the Fatih Mosque in Munich-Giesing. The motto the UN had given to that day was "Peace and Democracy," because a democratic social order is generally considered the best political base for lasting peace.
The interreligious group met together in order to support this endeavor through prayers and meditation, because surely there will be no peace in the world without the peace amongst the religions and without committed earnest prayer.
When all guests had arrived at 7 p.m., Imam Yusuf Yüzay guided them through the mosque and explained its structure and its facilities; additionally he showed the particularities of the Islamic way of prayer.
After that, all participants went up to the meeting room, where Turkish youth were serving tea and cookies. There, a few brief talks were given on the topic of the day. The UPF speaker emphasized that the making of peace does not depend on politics but is primarily based on peace with God, peace within oneself, and peace in the family. Siegfried Jensen spoke about the immense power and effect of prayer, that it not only strengthens the person who prays but also fulfills and liberates the Creator.
Various prayers for peace were offered. A young Unificationist recited a Jewish prayer that expressed the hope of humankind that all weapons shall soon be melted into ploughshares. After that a young Italian read parts of the Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of St. Mathew. Afterwards, Imam Yüzay chanted a surah of the Qur’an in Arabic, which he explained later to the participants in German language. Finally Mrs. Marlene Straub, member of an international Sufi order, recited a prayer of peace of her order, and Mr. and Mrs. Siracusa di Villalta were appointed Ambassadors for Peace in recognition of their interreligious activities.
All participants, no matter which faith community they came from, were united in the hope that their endeavor would support the establishing of lasting peace and understanding.
The evening was well received and accepted by all participants, with everyone sharing and engaging in discussion at the end. The program was evidence that the Abrahamic religions have much more in common than what might divide them.
Stuttgart - In honor of the International Day of Peace, an event took place in Stuttgart on September 17 to inaugurate a "House of Religions” in the city. Around 50 people from several religions participated.
Mr. Hubert Arnoldi, one of the founding members of the Interreligious Roundtable in Stuttgart, was the emcee for the program, which began at 3:00 p.m. Mrs. Margaret Staudinger offered songs, including “Love Can Build a Bridge,” which touched the hearts of the audience.
Mr. Arnoldi gave an introduction about the history of the UN International Day of Peace and quoted from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon´s speech for the Day of Peace this year. Mr. Karl-Christian Hausmann, National Chairman of UPF-Germany, gave a speech about “The Importance of Religions for World Peace.” He pointed out that there are basically two reasons why the efforts of the UN to create peace are so difficult to carry out. First of all, the members of the UN represent nations and make their decisions based only on their nation’s interests. Second, the UN was set up without a connection with the understanding of the spirituality of humankind. He then explained how religions could contribute to world peace in four ways:
He ended his inspiring talk with best wishes for the success of the project to establish a "House of Religions“ in Stuttgart.
Mrs. Margaret Staudinger and Mr. Christoph Wenzel from Stuttgart sang together “We Are the World,” opening the second half of the program. Mr. Arnoldi reported about how the “House of Religions” project in Stuttgart developed. He had read an article about the “House of Religions” in Hannover [see explanation below] and felt inspired to start one in Stuttgart, a city known for its interreligious and intercultural initiatives. The goal is to put ecumenism into practice through creating an atmosphere of trust, learning from each other, and support for people of other faiths. He expressed his conviction that the unity of religions is greater than the sum of its individual parts.
Mr. Hausmann then led the inauguration of the “House of Religions” Stuttgart and introduced the 15 founding members from several religions The Articles of Association of the House of Religions in Hannover, copied almost word for word for Stuttgart, were unanimously accepted by all founding members. Mr. Hubert Arnoldi was voted in as Chairman of the Board, Dr. Emre Tanay as Assistant Chairman, and Ms. Rosel Dauer as Treasurer. All agreed on a yearly membership fee of 20 Euros.
Mr. Samir El Midani, former Chairman of the Islamic Association of Stuttgart, was asked to close this historical event with an Islamic prayer. Then Mrs. Staudinger and Mr. Wenzel led the audience in singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth”.
After the official part of the program was over, refreshments were served, and several lively conversations took place, which continued until around 6:00 p.m. All in all, it was a very remarkable event.
NOTE: The "House of Religions" in Hannover is a framework for people of different religions and beliefs to meet, cooperate, and hold activities. UPF-Stuttgart may host the initial meetings of the "House of Religions" of Stuttgart. Following the Hannover model, they will apply for charitable status and seek support from the local government. In Stuttgart, interreligious and intercultural activities are welcome because people from many different cultural backgrounds are living in this part of southern Germany; 40 percent of the population is foreign-born.
Art exhibit in Leinfelden-Echterdingen - Ambassador for Peace Dr. Qais Saidi, an Iraqi of the Mandaean faith, was inspired by UPF to create art for peace through Arabic and Aramaean calligraphy. His artwork is on exhibit through October at the adult education institute in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, near Stuttgart, where he lives. One of his paintings is entitled "Peace is the mission of all religions." [To learn more about his artwork, click here.]