Unification News for August 2004
WCSF 2004 - International Blessing of 400 Million Couples, 5th Phrase
by Rev. Michael Jenkins
I am inspired to let you know how beautiful the day of Blessing was. At the stadium not far from Sun Moon University in Asan City (near Cheonan, about an hour's drive south of Seoul), the Blessing of marriage was held on July 26 for thousands of couples. This represents the fifth phase of the 400 million couple Blessing. The stadium was literally filled with blessed couples of both first and second generation. The brides looked stunning and beautiful in their white bridal gowns, and the men also looked great in stature and dignity, as these families pledged they would not only build true families with no divorce and no adultery, but also that they would seek to build a new world through linking their family together beyond race and religion, to build the Kingdom of God.
Prominent religious leaders representing various faiths of the world came forward to bless the couples. Standing on the stage in a line, each one offered a prayer from their own religious tradition asking Godís blessing upon the couples. Archbishop George Augustus Stallings represented Christianity. Imam Muhammad Elahi represented the Shiia Muslim faith. They were joined by Dr. Hamdi Mohammad Murad, professor at Al Baraqa University, a leader of the Syrian Orthodox Church, a Hindu leader, a Shinto leader, and a Buddhist leader. The invocations of blessing from religious leaders affirm that there is one God and that all the faiths are coming together now to invoke the collective power of their foundations in strengthening and uplifting marriage and family. These two principles were emphasized in Rev. Chung Hwan Kwakís keynote address Ė first, faith in God, and second, that the family is the most essential component for bringing love, happiness, and peace into the world.
The gathering included over 300 prestigious participants of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) Assembly 2004 conference, representing 120 nations. Several former presidents, prime ministers and current heads of state joined with top religious leaders not only to observe this blessing of marriage, but also to support the effort to strengthen families through all the religions. Throughout the conference many were interviewed as to their understanding of Father Moonís work and mission. In many different ways the leaders of many of the countries in the world are seeing that Father Moon truly is a leading figure for world peace and the development of strong families, with respect for all races and religions.
Through the increased media attention to the work of Father and Mother Moon, the key leaders of the world are now looking more deeply into the teaching and the practice of this world peace movement. Also, through the many conferences throughout the world, bonds of friendship are being established that go deeper than just working relations. Truly a global family is emerging of people who have influence in their nations and within their religions to lead the world into a culture of heart and peace.
True Parents opened the WCSF on July 23 in Cheonan with tremendous encouragement to the leaders, saying that they are being called by God to take responsibility to lead this world away from the scourge of war into an era of reconciliation and dialogue through mutual respect and understanding for all people.
The opening session of the week-long International Peace Sports Festival was held in Asan City in a beautiful ceremony that was likened to a religious Olympics. The athletes paraded into the stadium with the flags of their countries, representing their pride and the best of the religious cultures in their nations. Our American teams have done very well at the games, and I understand we have some gold medals. Iíll confirm and let you know, but I know our Washington, DC, basketball team was in the lead the last I checked. The athletes have the broadening experience of competing beyond race and religion on an international basis, where Christians, Muslim, Jews, Buddhists, and other world religious bodies are represented in peaceful but spirited competition. Whether they receive medals or not, participants go home with determination to come back next year to advance their teamsí efforts.
At the opening ceremony, Father Moonís major address called for peace through ideal families. In this process he encouraged the athletes, as well as all the dignitaries, to understand that peace is linked essentially to the family. Without families that are stable and loving, there can be no peace.
At the same time the sports fest is going on, the Mr. and Miss University pageant is in progress, where students who represent their nations and their universities have come for a pageant that emphasizes morality and abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage. Itís a great encouragement to see men and women competing not only based on talent and the gift of good appearance, but also based on moral character and commitment to build a better world.
The Youth Federation for World Peace, led by Rev. Bong Tae Kim, had a beautiful opening session in Seoul on July 24. Many young congressmen from the Korean National Assembly participated in it and gave speeches. At the same time, World CARP held its international conference from July 22-24 at Sun Moon University, in which Hyun Jin Nim inspired thousands of young leaders to live for the sake of others.
The academic core of this WCSF is the IIFWP Assembly 2004 conference. Rev. Kwak in his opening address on July 23 in Seoul noted that the fall of man set humanity on a course that would not be able to achieve the order and structure of true love. He said, "Among Rev. Moonís most profound spiritual discoveries about God is the realization that Godís heart is one that aches with disappointment and loneliness over the loss of His children, and the core and essence of His creation, true love, which was lost by the fall.
"Human society was built on the foundation of impure love within the family of our ancestors. Selfishness became dominant in human relationships. As such, family love was not only easily corrupted by infidelity and abuse but often contributed to ethnocentrism, racism and nationalism. As families multiplied into tribes, nations and civilizations, selfishness manifested in the injustice, inequality, preferential love, and imbalances of power and wealth on a global scale. For this reason, the purpose of Godís providence is to restore the family, and that process begins with religion. Knowing this, Father Moon has always emphasized the central importance of religion and the need for mutual respect and cooperation among religions. Religions are the schools of repair and restoration. They are instruments to lead us to a full, clear relationship with God, untainted by sin, selfishness or impurity, to a state where we would exist without any shadow and with nothing to hide before God, humanity, and the entire spiritual world."
Rev. Kwak went on to say that the family is the primary building block and instrument of peace, and yet also the family is the school of true love, a micro-city or micro-government, a micro-religion, a micro-school and a micro-economic system. Father Moon looked through the family ideal to a vision of universal peace and a realization of the Kingdom of God. That is why he founded IIFWP. Building on the foundation of religion and family, its goal is a world of universal harmony among all people who would dwell together as citizens of a unified and prosperous world under God. This is the ideal of the peace kingdom.
Rev. Kwak emphasized Father Moonís respect for the UN and also his understanding that itís not easy to change traditions and practices that would allow for a new paradigm to emerge. He understands it will take time for the UN to further expand and fully utilize the opportunity that religion provides in the path to peace. For this reason, Father Moon founded the IIPC to be a "peace UN" as an institution of global guidance rooted in true love and a world culture of heart. He concluded by congratulating the leaders on their consistent efforts to try to take the vision of a world culture of heart and make it into reality.
For me, this WCSF is very special. We had the opportunity to have Middle East panels and discussions, as well as very well informed, sophisticated discussions on the reunification of North and South Korea from experts from America, Asia, Europe, and all the continents. Whatís most encouraging is that many who represent the divergent traditions that are in conflict in the world actually show that with the proper atmosphere and commitment, those representatives can come together and create a path to peace that is universal and solid. Now those same leaders are being called from every country of the world to participate in the World Peace Pilgrimage. At a very exciting luncheon program set up by Dr. Thomas Walsh, the Middle East Peace Initiative committee was highlighted and represented by Dr. Antonio Betancourt, who has been appointed as Secretary General of the World Peace Pilgrimage in the Holy Land and is coordinating not only the visitation of 191 nations to the Holy Land but also the highest possible meetings in the religious and civic areas to forge bonds of peace that will link the world with the Holy Land and support the peace process.
I was given the opportunity to speak, and I could feel the overwhelming response of the participants. Many came up to me afterwards from Belarus, Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada, France, England, Germany, Turkey, and all over the Middle East, saying that they never have seen such hope. They marvel that the whole world is engaging voluntarily in the development of a peace process that respects all religions and races and brings a new understanding of the Kingdom of God.
Rev. Kwak and Dr. Walsh once again have led this conference on behalf of our True Parents with great success. We congratulate them and we are grateful that such a world movement of Ambassadors for Peace is growing in depth and stature.
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