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UPF-USA, ACLC and Women in Ministry Celebrate National Parents Day 2023


Washington, DC, USA—The Universal Peace Federation (UPF) USA and ACLC, Women in Ministry celebrated National Parents Day for the DMV area on Saturday, July 22, 2023, at the Arbor Ballroom at The Washington Times building. Over 150 people gathered, including the awardees and their families and friends. It was a joyous and happy gathering to honor the nominated outstanding couples and enjoy delicious food.


Larry Moffitt, secretary general of UPF, was the emcee. The program began with an invocation by Rev. Dr. Sharon Anderson, executive pastor of Temple of Praise, followed by a musical selection, Open My Heart, sung by Rasheedah Sharif.


Tomiko Duggan, senior vice president of UPF, USA, welcomed the participants and guests on behalf of all the sponsoring organizations and thanked them for their recognition of the importance of this day. She read a quote from Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, Co-Founder of UPF, who in her address at the US Congress in 1993 declared: “The family is society’s eternally unchanging origin, foundation, and building block. Neither your nation nor the world is the base for your happiness. Your family is. Therefore, the ideals we first seek should not be in the world. They must be in our family.”


Minister Reiko Jenkins, co-chair of ACLC, Women in Ministry, a co-sponsoring organization, expressed her joy and honor to be invited to such a beautiful event. She remarked that we are facing such a confusing time in finding the value of marriage between a man and woman and the importance of celebrating and honoring parents as we are created, male and female, in the image of God.


Rev. Zagery Oliver, executive vice president of UFP, USA, spoke about how he has seen movies and TV programs about divorced parents, and observes when one parent comes to pick up the child from the other parent’s house to spend time with him, the struggle within that child is portrayed as so painful. We understand why the child is in turmoil, because the child needs both parents.


Today there are cultural clichés of single parenthood, such as: “I don’t need no man” and claiming that the traditional need for a mom and dad to be in the same home is antiquated and not expected or relevant in contemporary life. But we know the order and balance of this vast universe functions harmoniously by the universal law of complementary elements. That same complementary power is translated into creating true love and harmony in the beautiful structure of Mom and Dad.


The keynote speakers were Ed Polk and Sharon Polk, the recipients of the National Parents Day Award in 2022. Ed Polk shared that there is no more critical thing than being a parent to children. Parents are shaping the minds and hearts of the next generations. We do not have a manuscript on how we raise children; we all had to figure it out. Fortunately, God is teaching us how to become good parents. Ultimately, we have to focus on a God-centered family.


As the son of two preachers, he recognizes the need not to forget God’s Words or turn away from them. He said we must dig into those words and figure out what God tells us to do. He started forcing himself to read God’s words daily and seek what God told him to do. We get to know what God is asking us. From God’s commands and wisdom, we develop good judgment and instruction in life.


When you face difficulties and challenges, you have to make a decision; go back to the Words. It is easy to have faith when everything is going well, when God is pouring abundant blessings on you. But when everything is taken away and you must go through the most challenging moments of your life, is your faith still there? Can you still say to God, “God, I love you”? Do you still have faith in God?


Mr. Polk stated that his family had gone through many difficulties. His advice: If you listen to God’s word, obey God, and let Him guide your life, everything will work out. You may not know how to get from point A to point Z, but learn to get to point B, and you will always find God’s plan for you.


Mrs. Angelika Selle, representing the Selection Committee for the National Parents Day for the Year 2023, introduced the outstanding DMV 2023 awardees:


Mayor Tim Adams, mayor of Bowie, Maryland, and Judge Sheila Adams

Mayor Adams grew up in deep poverty in New Orleans but lifted himself through education. Some 20 years ago, he suffered a slip-and-fall and was left paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. Elected in 2019, he is the first black mayor of Bowie and the first Bowie mayor who is disabled.


Mr. Thai Thanh Nguyen and Mrs. Ngoc-Thuan (Tina) Le

As children of immigrants, they are uniquely positioned to bridge between two worlds: their Vietnamese culture and their lives in the United States. These two worlds constantly challenge them, but their respect toward their parents has never swayed, from whom they inherited the value of hard work and service to the community.


Pastor Pamela Peebles

Her husband, Rev. James Peebles, passed away in 1997. His sudden death caused her to suffer, but she gained the strength and power of God to become a minister. Her two children have married and she now has five grandchildren.


Angel M. & Sonia Mabel Reyes

Mr. Reyes suffered a gunshot wound while at work; the damage has altered their lives. Mr. Reyes, a big, robust, hard-working husband, and father, was now struggling to survive. In spite of this tragedy, this couple has invested many years of sacrificial love and caring not only for each other but with parental concern and support for the large immigrant community of their neighborhoods.


Dr. Surinder Singh Gill & Mrs. Rajinder Kaur Gill

Dr. Gill commented that they allowed their children to be independent from the very beginning. The children made their own decisions regarding academics and choices in food and clothing. They were taught to do what was good for them and acceptable to the community.


Pastor Manyango Wilson & Mrs. Angela Wilson Recipients of the National Parents Day Award 2023

Pastor Manyango came to the USA to attend college in North Carolina after being sentenced to death (as a student leader) and released by the then-military government in his home country (Liberia). His best gift from God (after his salvation through Christ), the love of his life, Angela, joined him a year later. They have been married for 34 years, raised four awesome children, and were blessed with an additional child after she lost her mother to cancer.


Hon. Douglas Peters & Mrs. Joyce Peters

Maryland State Senator from 2007 to 2021

Sen. Peters served on the Bowie City Council for four years, the Prince George’s County Council for four years, and the Maryland Senate for 15 years. He was instrumental in constructing a vast hospital complex in Largo, Maryland. Douglas Peters and Joyce Peters have raised six extraordinary children.


The program ended with a final song by Pastor Michael Nattles, an evangelist, expressing his appreciation for those who contributed to the program.


By Tomiko Duggan, Senior Vice President, UPF-USA
Saturday, July 22, 2023

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