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Interreligious Conference Joins in Global Peace Rally

KOREA-2017-11-11-IRLC Day2-Interreligious Conference Joins in Global Peace Rally

Seoul, Korea—On the second day of the Interreligious Leadership Conference, November 11, 2017, all the delegates were invited to join a rally calling for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

After a morning session on interfaith activities, in the afternoon the participants traveled to the Seoul World Cup Stadium for the 2017 Global Rally for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula, where the keynote speaker was UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon.

The conference is being held from November 10 to 14, 2017, at the Lotte Hotel World. A joint effort of UPF and the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), an affiliated organization, it bears the title “Addressing the Critical Challenges of Our Time.”

In the first session of the conference, the nearly 400 participants from 60 nations heard calls for greater partnerships to provide spiritual guidance to their communities. They were urged to work to enhance harmony and a sense of peace among God’s children regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender, or religious or political affiliation.

Among the presentations and informal discussions, many religious leaders expressed a sense of shame that many of the world’s crises — human trafficking, poverty, lack of education, disease — fall heavily on society’s vulnerable, particularly women and children. Although countries continue to pour billions of dollars into military expenditures (traditional security), a mere fraction, in comparison, goes toward non-traditional security issues (climate change, population growth, refugee flow, human and drug trafficking). While most people traditionally look to politicians for solutions to society’s ills, the religious leaders said the way to lasting peace must be centered on a higher spiritual power.

Session I: Introduction to the Interfaith Vision and Work of UPF and ACLC

Mr. Ricardo de Sena, the regional secretary general of UPF for North America, served as moderator. The invocation was given by Rev. N.T.I. Naisali, elder minister and chair of the United Reformed Christian Church of Tuvalu, Kiribati and New Zealand.

Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, a former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, began by quoting John Lennon, “Give peace a chance.” In a spirit-filled presentation, Ambassador Cook referenced the Jewish prophet Isaiah, whose eyes were opened to the power, authority and sovereignty of God. “Once God opens our eyes to the reality of this world and God’s vision for His kingdom, then our lives can never be the same,” she said. There are three qualities, the ambassador said, that are needed to bring about change: vision, vitality and victory. She described Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Harriet Tubman and Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon as visionaries. Ambassador Cook called on the participants to step forward and make a difference in our communities.

Dr. Michael W. Jenkins, the national co-chair of ACLC, referenced Rev. Moon’s autobiography, highlighting several periods in his life, including Jesus’ appearance during his prayer when he was a teenager and his imprisonment in North Korea for his faith. Dr. Jenkins also spoke about the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) programs in the Holy Land and this year’s “Peace Starts with Me” interfaith tours of the United States, Japan and Korea.

Mr. Thomas P. McDevitt, the president of UPF International, gave his impressions of the purpose of the conference. “We are here to make a new beginning on a couple of fronts,” he said. “One, to gather the ACLC top leadership; two, bring a new assembly of faith leaders from around the world; and three, gather on a public stage in the most dangerous place on the planet — just 40 miles from the DMZ [Demilitarized Zone]— and call for reunification.” This is a significant moment, he said. Quoting the American general Douglas MacArthur—“Men, since the beginning of time, have sought peace”—he noted that no instrument or alliance like a league of nations has been successful. According to General MacArthur, “The problem basically is theological.” The way to peace is not through military means but through the spirit, Mr. McDevitt said.

Dr. Tageldin Hamad, the vice president of UPF International, spoke about the outreach to the Islamic faith, beginning with a meeting between the founders and Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, the grand mufti of Syria, in 1989. The founders agreed that there must be an interreligious dialogue and that the world should recognize Islam as a religion of peace. Dr. Hamad testified to the numerous conferences held with Muslim leaders from the Middle East. “If Father Moon’s progressive vision of God had been understood and followed,” he said, “then we wouldn’t be seeing the violence and suffering in the Middle East that we see.” Dr. Hamad spoke about the proposal made by Rev. Dr. Moon at the United Nations to establish an interfaith council, which ultimately became the inspiration for the UN’s World Interfaith Harmony Week adopted in 2010.

Ms. Jennifer Gray, the director of interfaith outreach at the U.S. state of Maryland Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, spoke about her role as interfaith director. Faith leaders, she said, “have a moral imperative to help those in need or suffering. … Often faith leaders are the first to know and are on the front lines of defending those suffering.” Ms. Gray said, “Every faith organization plays a major role in our communities. It is the responsibility of faith leaders to help improve the human condition.” She called on the leaders to “get out of our silos … and make a difference.”

Archbishop George A. Stallings Jr., the national co-chair of ACLC, said he finds strength and direction in Paul’s letter to Rome: “For none of us lives to himself alone, and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.” The archbishop said his life belongs to the Lord, and when he is asked, “What is the purpose of life?” he responds with the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart,” meaning that our purpose is not determined by humans but by God. Archbishop Stallings called on the participants “to make this world a better place, make a difference.” Change, he said, begins within each of us, as he quoted the singer Michael Jackson, “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” He concluded by praising the founders, because “they remind us of our mission. We are the peacemakers!”

Global Rally

In the afternoon, the participants traveled to the Seoul World Cup Stadium for the 2017 Global Rally for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Beneath sunny skies UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon delivered a message to more than 80,000, calling for peace on the Korean Peninsula and, more broadly, throughout the world.

The purpose of this event is very serious, Dr. Moon said. “The destiny of the world is at stake. We have gathered to move heaven and earth. When we look at the world situation, there are many serious issues affecting the world. These can’t be solved with human efforts alone.” She noted that the UN is nearing its 80th birthday, yet still “problems persist because nations cannot work together.”

Dr. Moon said, “Faith alone is not enough”; we must actively fulfill our responsibility by “welcoming God in our families. That is the task we are faced with.” The peaceful reunification of the peninsula and peace in the world will not happen by human effort alone: “It must be centered on God. When God is in our families and nations, then God’s eternal blessings will fall on us.” She called on everyone to share Heaven’s blessings centered on the Hyojeong culture, meaning to always have God in our hearts.

Other speakers before and after the keynote address included Ambassador R. James Woolsey Jr., a former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who called for peace on the Korean Peninsula and praised the relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea. “Our two countries have a bond of heart that was forged in the fires of the Korean War. The shared blood of Korea, the United States and the 15 other nations that was spilled into the soil of Korea in the fight against tyranny – makes us brothers and sisters forever. The world came to Korea at one time to protect this country, and the world has once again gathered together on this sacred ground.”

Bishop Don D. Meares, the senior pastor of the Evangel Temple in the U.S. state of Maryland, thanked “Mother Moon [for] encouraging all faiths to work together for peace. We are also thankful for The Washington Times, which they founded, and which has worked tirelessly toward that spirit of unity by boldly lifting up the banner of freedom, faith and family.”

Archbishop Dr. Johannes Ndanga, the president of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe, said, “As people who believe in the God who watches over us, our hearts grieve over the situation in the Korean Peninsula. There is a grave crisis that is dividing this land. As religious leaders, we are called by our conscience to do the right thing. We are commanded by the Lord our God to do what we can to bring about the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. By the wisdom of our UPF [co-]founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, we are gathered together at this Global Peace Rally to pray for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula.”

Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, the joint president of the World Congress of Faiths, United Kingdom, said: “For real change to happen, people of faith have had to relate to those who wield political and economic power, and to educationalists, and to those who work in the media. We need a shift of consciousness, where the welfare of others is our priority. As Jesus said, ‘You cannot serve God and money.’ Gandhi said, ‘The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.' Many people around the world are praying for peace on the Korean Peninsula, and may that day soon come,” he said.

The conference participants were inspired by the discussions and presentations and particularly by the rally and the words and demeanor of the UPF co-founder. There was general agreement that the universal values in our diverse traditions have the power to bind us together and that the vision for a better world will not be achieved by human effort alone; God must be at the center of our lives.

Related article about this event: 

Diverse coalition of religious leaders call for Korean reunification in interfaith rally

By Guy Taylor - The Washington Times - Saturday, November 11, 2017

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