ILC2020 The Americas: Webinar Opens Its International Look at “Opportunity and Hope at a Time of Global Crisis”

The Americas—The Opening Plenary Session of UPF’s global problem-solving online conference was a promising look toward a better future. It was the first of nine webinar sessions simultaneously occurring in three time zones (Korea, Japan, Asia-Pacific; Africa, Europe, Middle East; North America, Central America, South America, Caribbean) during the September 11–13 International Leadership Conference. The online program was open to all who registered and was watched by 735 viewers.

The Opening Plenary began with three beautiful prayers offered by Rev. Dr. Glovinia Lewis Williams, founding president and CEO of Dr. Glovinia Williams Ministries; Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, spiritual leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, Michigan; and Ven. Dr. Phramaha Thanat Inthisan, chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Buddhist Association of America.

Welcoming all participants, Dr. Chang Shik Yang (Regional Chair, UPF Central America and the Caribbean), recalled that throughout history when unprecedented challenges arouse such as the Covid-19 of today, humankind has always found creative responses. He said, “It is time for us to overcome disconnectedness, division, conflict and distrust, in order to realize the ideals of our human community with trust, cooperation and love, and with the spirit of living for the sake of others.”

He also shared that during the conference all participants will have the opportunity to “celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Universal Peace Federation… and commemorate the centenary of UPF’s co-founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, and the 8th anniversary of his Holy Ascension.” He concluded that, throughout the webinar’s nine sessions, “distinguished speakers will share presentations toward healing the pain, division and conflict caused by Covid-19, to move toward a brighter future.”

Rev. Dong Mo Shin (Regional Chair, UPF South America) expressed his gratitude to all the Ambassadors for Peace who work tirelessly, “even in situations where movement is limited due to Covid-19.” Reminding the audience that UPF firmly believes that we are all “One Family Under God,” Reverend Shin shared Father Moon´s words during the Second World Peace Conference in 1994, “Peace will only be accomplished when all men and women share in God’s love and truth and put these into practice. This starts with the individual and expands to the family, society, nation and world to form one global family.”

Dr. Michael Jenkins (UPF Regional Chair, UPF North America) reminded the audience that many attending this webinar were in New York City when the terrorist attacks happened exactly 19 years ago, on September 11, 2001, and that “it was an enormous change of direction for the whole world. That´s why the interfaith prayers and increased activity of dialogue and understanding is a pillar of the UPF and the International Leadership Conference… and through this engagement we can become one family and prevent extremism in all traditions.”

Dr. Jenkins also expressed that “the foundation of North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean is based on a Christian heritage, and we also embrace Islam, Buddhism all faith traditions. That´s the reason why Mother Moon created the World Clergy Leadership Conference.” Dr. Jenkins concluded by saying, “I particularly want to thank Mother Moon for her efforts since the World Summit to lift up the leaders of the world and bring them together with a common core vision of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.”

After a video presentation showing the outstanding work for peace of Father and Mother Moon, Dr. Thomas G. Walsh (Chairman, UPF International), shared with the audience that, “this ILC is taking please across the globe, and concurrent programs are taking place in three geographic regions: the Asia Pacific, the Americas (North, South and Central and the Caribbean) and finally in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.”

Dr. Walsh explained, “In February of this year, we convened World Summit 2020, with several thousand distinguished leaders from 170 nations. At that time, our co-founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, spoke of the need for the world community to reorient itself by moving away from exclusively materialistic and self-serving objectives toward spiritual, moral and other-serving objectives; only in this way, she argued, will the world find its way through the challenges we face.”

Dr. Walsh also clarified that the goal with this ILC2020 “is to explore our way forward. We will consider how we might turn tragic circumstances into opportunities to correct some of our collective deformities and disfunctions as humanity—extreme inequality, injustice, failures to take responsibility, corruption, disrespect for each other and for the environment.” Dr. Walsh also shared that in order to correct these deformities and disfunctions, “UPF underscores values of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.”

In conclusion, Dr. Walsh said, “I also must add a word of deep appreciation to Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, whose leadership, guidance and vision made not only this ILC2020 possible, but the entire work of UPF possible, together with her beloved husband, Rev. Sun Myung Moon.… We feel the guidance and the blessing of heaven, and we pray that we can remain faithful to the founding vision, acting always in service to the world, to the ideal of creating a world of universal peace, one family under God.”

Hon. Dan Burton (International Co-Chairman, International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace; Member, U.S. Congress, 1983–2013) began by thanking UPF leaders and especially Mother Moon “for all the things she has done in the cause of peace.” He also shared that in the early 1980s he met Father Moon, and he “impressed me with his determination to bring about a world of peace and understanding…. And now we have Mother Moon, who is doing an extraordinarily good job and travelling all around the world to bring about peace, understanding and freedom. I can´t imagine anybody who is doing more in the cause of peace than she has and is.” Honorable Burton also recalled that when the terrorist attacks happened on 9/11/2001, he was on Capitol Hill. He remembered that “it was a terrible, terrible time. It scared people to death… And earlier this year when everything was going well… a pandemic hit... a tragic thing that happened.” He concluded, emphasizing, “Your leadership, every one of you is so important… working together in the cause of peace… we are all brothers and sisters in this cause of peace.”

The last speaker was Dr. Luonne Rouse (Co-Chairman, American Clergy Leadership Conference) who began by saying, “What a great opportunity we have to fulfill our responsibility as chosen people… known to us through the great work of Father and Mother Moon, the Mother of Peace who has encouraged us to join to unite with her in carrying the message of true love throughout the world.” He clarified that “the reason is when we are sharing the gifts of God with one another, we have the opportunity for peace… We always have peace when we have faith and believe what God has originally designed for us.” He concluded: “We can work faithfully together, here and now, for physical peace to exist with mutual prosperity for everybody… Be sure that the religious leaders… are one in the spirit of God, working with you for peace now and forevermore.”

The September 11–13 International Leadership Conference was created to engage world leaders and citizens on issues ranging from rebuilding post Covid-19 economies to cooperative peacemaking. Under the rubric of UPF’s signature values of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values, its aim was to address solutions in commerce, health, environment, family, and social issues. “This year has seen dramatic disruptions not only due to the Covid-19 epidemic but in geopolitics, the world economy, the media, religion and all levels of society,” observes UPF Chair Dr. Thomas Walsh. “And yet, while there are reasons to despair, there is tremendous goodwill and desire to act on emerging opportunities and innovations that can relieve suffering around the world.”

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