Unification News for June 2002
International Leadership Seminar in Moscow
by Jack Corley
On May 8, IIFWP held a very successful program in Moscow under the title "Renewing the Nation: An Exploration of Principles and Practices That Strengthen the Family, Educate Our Youth and Rebuild Society." One hundred and forty participants, representing religion, politics, media, culture and academia, attended the event. Considering that the seminar took place right in the middle of Russia’s May holiday season, when many Muscovites leave the city to spend time at their dacha in the country, the number and level of participants exceeded our expectations and could even be considered miraculous.
Archbishop Feodor of the Holy Synod of the Catacomb Orthodox Church of Russia offered the invocation. Professor Mikhail Odintsov, vice director for religious affairs of the Russian government’s human rights commission, presented the opening remarks, in which he pointed out the stark reality of the decline of the Russian family and praised IIFWP for their efforts at introducing a fresh approach to family values.
Dr. Joon Ho Seuk, the chairman of IIFWP Eurasia, then offered welcoming remarks, noting that some participants had come from as far away as eastern Siberia. Dr. Seuk outlined the main points of the program and urged the audience to think seriously about the issues under discussion.
After a very impressive video about IIFWP activities, Dr. Thomas Walsh introduced Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak to give the keynote address. Dr. Walsh then introduced the goals of IIFWP, and after the lunch break spoke about the problem of AIDS.
Prof. Pyotr Nikolayev, a professor of philology at Moscow State University and chairman of the Presidential Committee on Science and Culture, challenged the audience to examine the present state of Russia. Speaking passionately, Professor Nikolayev asked the participants to accept their proper role as responsible and mature citizens. Robert Beebe, the director of the International Educational Foundation Eurasia, reported on IEF activities in the former Soviet region and was followed by Jack Corley, secretary general of IIFWP Eurasia who spoke about the challenge posed to the family due to increasing promiscuity and the liberalization of attitudes toward sexual norms.
For citizens of a country that is still recovering from the effects of an atheistic ideology, Dr. Kwak’s presentations on the spirit world and the Blessing were both challenging and insightful. At the end of his lectures, 18 couples and 50 individuals came forward to participate in a marriage rededication and Blessing ceremony, presided over by Dr. Kwak. The vice governor of the Ivanovo region and his wife were the representative couple at the Blessing , and mentioned that they had left their home at 5 am that morning in order to not miss any part of the seminar.
The program concluded with a beautiful banquet, at which six individuals received Ambassador for Peace certificates. As the participants stood hand-in-hand singing "Moscow Nights," led by an Orthodox priest and a Muslim Imam, several people were moved to tears at the feeling of unity among the diverse audience.
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