CALENDAR OF EVENTS
One Family Under God Is Dr. Sun Myung Moon’s Lasting Legacy
Written by Dr. Michael Balcomb, UPF International
Saturday, September 15, 2012
It’s often said that you really know who your friends are in a time of crisis, and the more than 300 UPF Ambassadors for Peace who made the long journey to Korea to attend the memorial services for Father Moon on September 15 proved that we are more than just friends: we are indeed one family under God. Over a course of three days, the UPF group shared tears, memories, determination, and also plenty of laughter and smiles as we comforted each other and shared testimony as to the many, many ways that this extraordinary man of God had touched all our lives.
Nowhere was this more evident than at the celebratory memorial banquet held after the memorial services that night back in Seoul’s bustling Gangnam district at the Intercontinental Grand Hotel, fittingly located next to the COEX Exhibition Center where just three years ago Dr. Moon launched his best-selling autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen. Indeed, many of those who came to attend his homegoing service had also been present on that sunny June day in 2009, and there was a sense of reunion in the air.
Father Moon’s impact on interfaith relations was evident from the heartfelt benedictions offered by representatives from the religious community. Prayers were offered by Bishop Riah al Assal, the immediate past Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, who noted that throughout his diocese, which includes the troubled lands of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, there is an urgent need for reconciliation of the family of Abraham. Dr. Hamdi Mohammed Murad, the soft-spoken Muslim cleric from Amman, Jordan, co-founder of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center, thanked God for his mercy and kindness, specifically for having allowed everyone present to have lived and worked with Father Moon, a man who loved God so much. Dr. Srivatsa Goswami chanted a Hindu benediction, "Om Shanti, Om Shanti, peace, peace," representing India, home of so many religions and languages.
Other representatives of the Middle East Peace Initiative also in attendance were Dr. Abraham Shalom Haim, Chair of the Council of Oriental and Sephardic Jews in Spain, and the prominent Druze leader and publisher, Sheik Samih Natur from Israel.
“The Druze community has long been in complete support and agreement with the teachings of Father Moon,” said Natur, who just two weeks ago at the most recent MEPI event in Jerusalem unveiled a five-volume encyclopedia of the Druze religion and culture. “We especially appreciate his profound teachings on marriage and family values, and I am proud to say today we will continue to advance his vision in Israel and throughout the region.”
The Indian delegation was headed by Commissioner Eduardo Faleiro, Ambassador for Peace from Goa, and Ambassador Krishna Rajan, former diplomat and peacemaker. Ambassador Rajan spoke of the UPF’s ongoing peacebuilding and character education work in many of India’s provinces, as well as the advances being made in India’s neighbor countries, most notably Nepal, where UPF has been credited with a major role in helping bring a negotiated peace between Maoist and traditionalist forces in the Himalayan nation.
Indeed, the Nepalese delegation was among the largest to attend the memorial, with several governmental delegates led by Rt. Hon. Lokendra Bahadur Chand, former Prime Minister of Nepal and Cabinet Minister Ek Nath Dhakal, who has spearheaded UPF’s peacemaking work in the region. The Asian delegation also included several prominent political, academic, and military leaders, such as, Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr., Founding Chairman of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, composed of 300 political parties in Asia, and two Thai leaders: Police Lt. Gen. Thaveesak Tuchinda, Senate advisor and Bangkok Election Commissioner, and Gen. Terdsak Marrome, Special aide-de-camp to the King, Ministry of Defense. UPF was also honored by the presence of Mrs. Sinta Nuriyah Wahid, the widow of the late Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, former President of Indonesia, Islam’s most populous nation.
Earlier, the banquet guests were warmly welcomed in a receiving line that included several members of UPF’s Presiding Council, including the Chair, Hyung Jin Moon and his wife Yeon Ah Lee, UPF President Dr. Thomas Walsh, Secretary General Taj Hamad, and Dr. Stansislav Shushkevich from Belarus, who once led the landlocked Eurasian nation and who played a major role in the early post-Soviet era.
Eurasia is yet another region of the planet where Dr. Moon had made such a lasting impact. Long after his much-celebrated meetings with former President Mikhail Gorbachev, Dr. Moon continued to invest in the region and particular in its youth. In recognition of this contribution, two universities which had invited him some time ago to come and speak and receive an honorary doctorate took the opportunity to offer the awards posthumously, in a short but moving ceremony in which Hyung Jin Moon and his wife accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Moon.
In his remarks, the UPF International Chair took time to thank and comfort the group for their support. “Of course these last six weeks have been a very difficult time for all of us,” he said, “but it means so much to me and to all of my family that you have shown us your love and support by being here today.”
Every continent was well represented. Two Europeans, Lord Tarsem King from Great Britain and H.E. Alfred Moisiu from Albania, were selected to offer eulogies at the main ceremony, and there was a strong representation of academics, civil leaders, and scholars from across Europe. There were also scholars, diplomats, and political figures from Africa, many of whom had fond memories of welcoming Father and Mother Moon to their nations on one of the many peace tours that took place in the years following the foundation of UPF, including former Zambian Prime Minister Malimba Masheke and Ugandan Minister for Minerals, Peter Lokeris, who had both been together with Father and Mother Moon during their historic visit to Nigeria last year.
Oceania, South America, and the Caribbean were also well represented too. Former Marshall Islands President Kessai Note, who had welcomed Father and Mother to his low-lying island both to fish for big game and to speak to the nation, appreciated their support for youth education. “It’s widely known that we are in danger from rising ocean levels,” he recalled telling Dr. and Mrs. Moon during their visit, “but a far bigger challenge is educating our youth and encouraging them to return to their homeland and commit to be our future leaders.”
Note was among more than a dozen former presidents and prime ministers who came to pay their respects in person, but UPF also received more than 450 written, internet, and video messages of support in the week before the memorial, including messages from seven heads of state and dozens of parliamentary leaders.
The United States sent a strong delegation, with 72 pastors and religious leaders from the American Clergy Leadership Conference. All of them had been part of a larger group of 172 religious leaders who had spent many happy days with Father and Mother Moon just last year, when they came to Korea and joined him on a nationwide teaching crusade. Upon their return to the United States, they had encouraged members of their congregations, and others, to take time to study the Divine Principle, the essential teachings of Father Moon received over many years of prayer and scriptural study.
“When we heard that Father Moon had passed, we felt we just had to come to his homegoing service," said Jesse Edwards and George Stallings, two of the leaders of the American Clergy Leadership Conference who have been working with him for more than a decade. “It’s sometimes said that you can only get the true measure of a man when he is lying down, laid to rest,” said Stallings, “and tonight we feel completely confident that his life and legacy are really just beginning. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? He was truly our spiritual father; we are all his children, and we are all one family.”
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