Articles From the February 1994 Unification News


Unification Movement/World Religions Conference in Richmond, VA

by George Russell - Richmond, VA

The second phase of the World Scripture Conference (initiated at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), in Richmond, on November 2, 1992) took place at VCU, on November 10th. Although the planning and lead-time was short, about 100 persons attended throughout the day. The one-day conference was sponsored by the Religious Studies Program of VCU, the Religious Studies Society of VCU, the Council for the World Religions (CWR), and the Unification Campus Ministry/CARP of Virginia.

Representatives from various religious organizations attended the meeting, they were: United Methodist, Catholic, Muslim, Bahai, Native American, Hindu, Jews, and Unification. This year's central theme was: "Harmony Amongst the World Religions: A Continuing Quest for Peace". The program was featured in two parts: 1), The Unification Movement in Perspective, and 2), Harmony Amongst the World Religions.

In the morning session, participants were able to view the videos: Unifier and Peacemaker, and portions of the 207~ International Holy Wedding, which took place at Madison Square Garden, in 1982. Dr. Andrew Wilson, professor of Old Testament Studies at Unification Theological Seminary, and chief editor of World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts, gave the keynote address in each part of the program.

Other highlights of the conference were: 1), reports on the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace meeting in New Delhi (February 1993), and the Parliament of the World's Religions (October 1993, Chicago). 2), Statements and readings from local representatives of the various faiths participating in the conference. And 3), a women's panel discussing "the role of women in the religious quest for peace".

Among the prominent religious leaders participating in the conference were: Rabbi David Gorelik, chairman of the Richmond Rabbinic Council, Mr. V. Kannan, leader of the Hindu Center of Virginia, and Dr. Marie Goldstein, director of Richmond Hill (an interfaith spiritual retreat program based in Richmond). Dr. Cliff Edwards, who is the new director of the Religious Studies Program of VCU, once again, mobilized his students to attend the program. He also encouraged other professors to make announcements about the conference in their classes.

The video showing of the 2075 couples' blessing was particularly inspiring for some participants, they wanted to know more about the tradition of marriage in the unification church. Rev. George Russell later explained, that the 'mass ceremony' was indicative of the unity of mankind and the realization of the concept of 'one family under God'. He said the view of 'one world under God' is held highly in the church. Also, that it was a very practical approach to marrying many couples at once.

Dr. Andrew Wilson brought out three basic concepts of the Divine Principle in his first speech. He spoke about parental love, true love, and indemnity. He said that God originally wanted to realize the ideal of family based upon the four types of expression of love: children's love, sibling's love, conjugal love, and parental love. However, due to the fall of Adam and Eve, God's ideal for man was unable to be fulfilled. He then explained that the path of indemnity - which is the way of restitution, must be traveled to return to the original ideal. He then elaborated on the mission of the True Parents, and testified that in the unification church, we believe that Reverend and Mrs. Moon are the messiah". He further said: Reverend Moon is the messiah, not by great rhetoric, but by his accomplishments. In the latter conference, we were honored by the Hindus' presence. Although they were contacted at the very last moment, they were very eager to participate. Mr. Kannan did his reading in Sanskrit, then gave the English translation.

The invaluable accomplishment of the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP) march, in New Delhi, was brought home to us through viewing it on video. We were also blessed by Reverend Kwak's speech at the New Delhi meeting. He spoke of the hope for harmony among the world's religions, and the exemplary act of unity that would be accomplished through marching together. A report was delivered on the march by Dr. Marie Goldstein, who participated on behalf of the Catholic Church.

The audience, which comprised mostly of students, was very pleased to hear Dr. Edwards' report on the Parliament of the World's Religions conference. He was able to communicate some of his experiences via a slides presentation.

A key aspect of the VCU program was the reading and signing of the Joint Declaration for Peace and Cooperation. The Declaration called for front-line involvement on the part of religious leaders in pursuing peace. And, to encourage respect and responsibility towards active dialogue and cooperation in joint ventures for peace.

The women's panel which consisted of Dr. Marie Goldstein, Mrs. Amal Damaj (Islamic), Dr. Lynda Weaver-Williams of VCU (moderator), and Rev. Susan Fefferman, chairwoman for the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP) chapter, in Washington D.C., was a lively contribution to the program. 'Women's role in the religious quest for peace' was discussed from the standpoint of the panelists' personal experiences. All the participants on the panel, coincidentally, have had a variety of experiences with the complexity of attaining peace in the Middle East. Much hope was imparted to the audience by each panelist, that a greater involvement of women in the quest for peace would augment the process, and add the essential elements of greater compassion, love and sacrifice.

The speech of our True Father and Mother - True Parents and the Completed Testament Age, was given to all in attendance. Participants were able to hear Father's words on accomplishing peace on the individual to the world level, in the unification reading given by Mrs. Lisa Ellanson, chairperson for WFWP, in Virginia.

At the end of the conference, much optimism was expressed by the participants. Many shared the hope of having the World Religion's Conference as an annual event. Likewise, there was good response to the question of their participation in a local Council for the World's Religions, and prospects for a workshop on the Divine Principle and the Unification Church.


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