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Religious Youth Service

Young Americans Learn Firsthand about World Faiths

Saturday, May 21 - RYS participants at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum
Sunday, May 22 - Fellowship at New Hope Family Church
Lincoln Memorial and Korean War Memorial
Monday, May 23 – Education Day: Beech Room, The Washington Times
Interfaith Candle-Lighting Ceremony
Judaism: Rabbi Mark Rafael, Buddhism: Ven. Bhante Uparatana, Catholicism: Father Khoa Nguyen, Protestantism: Rev. Vandy Kennedy
Islam: Dr. Mimi Hassanein, Unificationism: Richard de Sena, Thomas McDevitt, luncheon speaker; chair, UPF USA; chair, Washington Times Corp.
The six speakers represented the faiths of more than 4 billion people.
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Washington Hebrew Congregation: Rabbi Aaron Miller (center, front row) with the RYS participants. Two tablets containing the Ten Commandments are in the background.
The Islamic Center: Group photo with Imam Abasse
Tuesday, May 24 – Visiting Day: U.S. Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs = Briefings were given to the RYS participants by Arsalan Suleman, Acting U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for the Office of Religion and Global Affairs, Rebecca Linder Blachly, Senior Policy Advisor for Africa; and Usra Ghazi, Youth and Interfaith Outreach Advisor, RGA.
Dr. Ken Bedell, Senior Advisor, Center for Faith‐based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. Department of Education, and Anna Leach, Program Coordinator.
Tuesday, May 24 – The U.S. Capitol
Mr. Joe Taylor and Mrs. Angelika Selle Talk about “Personal Experience in Life of Faith.”
Wednesday, May 25 – Visiting Day: Briefing by Siuaji Raja, Minister Counselor, Media and Sociocultural Affairs, and tour of the Embassy of Indonesia
Briefing by Dr. Ryan Anderson on marriage and religious liberty, with Elinor Renner, at The Heritage Foundation.
(Right) H.E. Rolandas Krisciunas, Ambassador, Embassy of Lithuania & Evelina Petrone, First Secretary
Archbishop George A. Stallings Jr. at the Imani Temple and Barbara Moseley-Marks (UPF-Virginia), Susan Fefferman (Ambassadors for Peace), and Libby Henkin (FFWPU National Council) from the FFWPU Women’s Leadership Forum
Thursday, May 26, the White House
Embassy Consular Annex of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Briefing by Paulette Zonicle, Consul General, and Faith Maycock, Third Secretary
Visiting Arlington National Cemetery to pay respects to the heroes and heroines of our nation.
Embassy of Russia: Welcomed by Natalia Dementieva, Cultural Attache Coffee, tea and sweets served in one of the Embassy’s beautiful rooms.
Coffee, tea and sweets served in one of the Embassy’s beautiful rooms.
Guest Speaker Alex Cromwell, Youth Programs Manager, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, speaks on “Conflict Resolution Based on Faith.”
Friday, May 27 - Visiting and Service Day: Worship Service at MedStar Washington Hospital Center Chapel
Hospital tour by Brother Jerry McCallum, Chaplain Resident. Group photo with Father Anthony Akinlolu, Director, Department of Spiritual Care
RYS Service Project at the UPF Peace Embassy
Saturday, May 28 - Graduation Day: Founders’ Room, The Washington Times
Congratulatory remarks by Dr. William Selig, RYS program director; Mrs. Tomiko Duggan, RYS-USA Director; Rev. Dr. Doris McGuffey, Founder, the Center for Dimensional Transformation Worldwide; and Mr. Thomas McDevitt, Chair, UPF-USA and also chair, The Washington Times.
Congratulations to the RYS / GPA 2016 graduates!

Washington, D.C., United States—Young future leaders augmented their year-long training with eight days of learning firsthand about major world religions.

Religious Youth Service (RYS), a project of Universal Peace Federation, held a program in Washington, D.C., for 17 young men and women from throughout the United States who were participating in the college preparatory and faith-building activities offered by Generation Peace Academy (GPA).

The program, which took place from May 20 to 28, 2016, was the first time that GPA included RYS in its training course. The decision was made by the young participants from several early-summer options that GPA had considered. Three GPA staff members—Mrs. Louise Honey, Mr. Jan Pearson and Mr. Francis Marsal—joined in the program.

Initiated in 1986 by UPF founders Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, RYS develops young people’s personal leadership and peacemaking skills through interfaith education and service programs. The RYS training in making a practical difference in the world is built upon three pillars:

  • Interfaith education: to understand and learn respect for people of all faiths.
  • Briefings by experts about conflict resolution and peacebuilding: to learn from leaders of the communities of faith, government and NGOs
  • Service activity: to practice and develop team-building skills by organizing and engaging in real acts of service for others.

This year’s RYS in the U.S. capital was uniquely organized to introduce GPA participants to the core values of different religions and show how those values are expressed in the daily lives of the faithful. A Jewish rabbi, a Catholic priest, a Buddhist monk, a Protestant minister, and a Muslim educator gave personal explanations of their core beliefs.

The students also visited important religious sites in Washington: the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the 10th largest Catholic cathedral in the world; the Washington Hebrew Congregation, where the students were shown a Torah scroll; and the Islamic Center, a beautiful mosque serving as a cultural and educational center for Muslims and non-Muslims.

The GPA participants were also briefed on varying peacebuilding strategies by government officials at the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education; by diplomatic staff at the embassies of Russia, Indonesia and Lithuania; and by policy analysts at the Heritage Foundation and the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy.

To provide additional understanding of Washington, D.C., and the real-world context of conflict resolution discussions, a professional tour guide led the participants on visits to the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Memorial, the World War II Memorial and John F. Kennedy’s gravesite.

The evening schedule featured discussions with many senior members of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an affiliated organization, who had worked intimately with Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Moon from the early 1970s.

The final activities included the collective effort by all the students on a very hot day to clean the large, historic house designated as the UPF Peace Embassy. The RYS graduation ceremony was conducted in the Founders’ Room at The Washington Times, where each participant was appointed a Youth Ambassador for Peace.

The first full RYS-GPA program required eight nights and nine days of investment by students and staff. Through close observation and involvement with the students, the staff of both organizations recognized the important value of a well-executed RYS program to GPA as well as to comparable youth-education and faith-building programs.

From the frank testimonies of the GPA students, it was acknowledged that the program was eye-opening, inspiring, and provocative in providing a view into the faith-based efforts of so many exceptional people who are working effectively and seriously at the highest levels of government and society to make their ideals into reality, creating a better, more peaceful world.

This summer's program has initiated discussions and planning about developing more extensive and effective cooperation between RYS and GPA.

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