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UPF Day of Peace Celebrations with Peace Prayers

UPF celebrated the United Nations International Day of Peace 2009 with interreligious prayers at events in various nations.

Sydney, Australia

Biannca Pace, Director of the Ministry of Peace, offered words of welcome, followed by an aboriginal purification ceremony. Then Rev. Enrique Ledesma, Director of UPF-New South Wales, read quotes by notable peacemakers about the essence of peace. Throughout the day, many colorful groups from various cultural and religious traditions danced and sang as hundreds of people took time out from their busy schedules to breathe in the atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Representatives of the Commercial Association of Sao Paulo in partnership with the Antakarana Institute, the United Religions Initiative, the Universalist World Forum, the Cultural Foundation of the Brazilian Army, the Brazilian Association of the International UN Peace Forces, and the Universal Peace Federation gathered at the Peace Monument to celebrate the UN International Day of Peace. Four special guests were awarded the Peace Monument Trophy: Cardinal Dom Odilo Scherer, Archbishop of Sao Paulo; General Antônio Esper, Southeast Region Military Commander; Rabbi Michel Schlegninger of the Israelite Congregation of Sao Paulo; and Sheik Jihad from the World Association of Muslim Youth.

Bogota, Colombia

In planning a celebration of the UN International Day of Peace, the Ambassadors for Peace aspired to go further and call for a National Day of Peace. The idea was embraced by Senator and Evangelical pastor Charles Schultz, who proposed a law to establish a national “Day of Pardon, Peace, and Thanksgiving.” The launch took place in the Elliptical Room of the Congress of the Republic of Colombia. In addition to the secretary general of the Council of Bishops and the Evangelical Council, there were representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran, Mennonite, Baptist, United Pentecostal, and Seventh-Day Adventist churches. The chief rabbi of Colombia and the director of the Islamic Cultural Center were also present. Speakers shared their points of view about how to achieve a world of peace in front of an audience graced by members of different faiths. There were quite different points of view, but the majority called for working together for peace without distinction of creed, calling the different groups in the armed conflict in Colombia to show a true interest in peace through actions that demonstrate their commitment to establish a better country.

Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire

After invocations by two spiritual leaders, Imam Drame Moussa and Rev. Mambo Luc, Mr. Gabriel Likane, former Secretary General of UPF-Cote d’Ivoire, gave a presentation on the Five Principles of Peace.

Dusseldorf, Munich, and Stuttgart, Germany

Catholics, Lutherans, Evangelicals, Sufis, Christian Scientists, Muslims, and Unificationists gathered in Munich for prayer and meditation for peace in the world. A representative of each tradition gave a short statement on their view of peace and offered prayers to heaven. During an interfaith “Water Ceremony” in Dusseldorf, representatives of different races and religious creeds each emptied a bottle of water into one big container. The ceremony was started by a Sengalese-Buddhist monk and a Hindu-Tamil nurse, representing the warring fractions in Sri Lanka. The ceremony was accompanied by the music of “We are the World.” Prayers for peace from various religions were offered in Stuttgart together with prayers for children from throughout the world in a play written and presented by Mrs. Kassiekpo–Schmidt.

Georgetown, Guyana

Peace marchers walked through the city to the Seawall Bandstand chanting "Peace, Shalom, Om Shanti shanti, Assalaam-o-Alikum."Prayers for peace were offered by representatives of Christianity, Baha'i, Hinduism, and Islam.

Lima, Peru

Celebrations took place in the Miguel Grau Hall, a historical meeting room in the Peruvian Congress. Representatives Dr. Jhony Lescano and Dr. Margarita Sucari offered their thoughts about peace, along with former Minister of Defense Dr. Antero Flores Araoz. They were joined by Anglican Bishop William Godfrey, Sheik Kalil Mohammed, and Methodist Bishop Jorge Bravo.

In the city of Puno, celebrations started off with a march for peace. Representatives from the Catholic church, the Mormons, and Hare Krishnas took part in a candle-lighting ceremony. Ambassador for Peace certificates were presented to the Regional Vice President, Lic. Mauro Justo Vilc; the Mayor of Puno, Engineer Luis Butrón Castillo; and the Rector of Altiplano University, Martha Tapia.

Boulder, Colorado, USA

Interfaith prayers were offered by faith leaders of the Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, and Baha’i communities. Each of the religious leaders poured a glass of pure water into a glass bowl after offering a prayer, symbolizing the truth of all faiths adding to our understanding of the Divine.

Montevideo, Uruguay

An Interreligious Summit for Peace featured four presenters speaking about the search for peace from the viewpoint of religions. Speakers included Monsignor Luís Del Castillo, Secretary of the Conference of Bishops; Rabbi Ariel Kleiner, rabbi of the New Israelite Congregation in Montevideo; Mrs. Marcela Alves, a representative of Islam in Uruguay; and Mr. Tadashi Tanaka, former Director General of Soka Gakkai International in Uruguay. The summit stimulated an ecumenical and fraternal encounter that encouraged people to discover their value as “One human family under God.” In a climate of true spirituality, one could appreciate that even though peace can come through other channels, only religion touches the conscience of the individual, the community, and the nation. Presenters drew upon resources in their faith to encourage people to forget grievances, forgive, and resolve to confront the future together.

To read UPF's Declaration on the International Day of Peace 2009, click here.

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