Unification News for November 1998
WFWP – Into the Future
by Nora Spurgin-NY, NY
This is the first of a three-part series on the structure, vision, and activities of the Women’s Federation for World Peace. Part One: "Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going", will look at WFWP from a historical perspective and discuss the new restructuring plan that will bring us into the new millennium. Part Two: "What We’re Doing and its Social Impact", will provide an overview of WFWP activities and our approaches to those activities. Lastly, Part Three: "WFWP – Touching the Rest of the World", will discuss how all our work translates into real and lasting change. WFWP – "Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going"
Several months ago Reverend Moon questioned me about how many speaking tours I had done and then asked me to do another tour. He commented that the time between now and the year 2000 was a crucial time for women, and that it was important for WFWP to continue its activities. His comments were short, but they again reminded me of the great window of opportunity we have as women to spearhead changes in our society.
I thought back over the last six years since April of 1992 when I was asked to take the role of USA President of the newly created Women’s Federation for World Peace and when our Founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, made an eight city Inaugural tour in the U.S. and then continued on a worldwide tour.
We created a fledgling organization funded solely by membership fees, set up a non-profit 501(C3) organization, and created a regional structure based on the incredible dedication of local Chairwomen. We sought to build an organization of its own strength and integrity by reaching out into our communities while at the same time we planted our roots deeply in our providential mission as the "Mother" half of the Church.
In 1994, WFWP of Japan, sent 10 volunteers to every country to identify needs, provide resources and connect to women leaders of each nation. Their work created a substantial foundation for WFWP International, which was incorporated in 1994. After a very successful and powerful Sisterhood Program in Korea between Japanese and Korean women, WFWP USA entered a whole new stage of activity and plans for Sisterhood Ceremonies in America began.
WFWP Goes to Beijing
With plans for Sisterhood Ceremonies underway, another major event was taking shape, the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. WFWP International, was applying for accreditation with the United Nations to send an international delegation to China and provide a seminar entitled, "The Renaissance of the Family", at the NGO Forum. Since I was in America, it fell upon me to get the accreditation and arrange for the seminar. The trip to Beijing was a great success for WFWP. Ms. Maureen Reagan joined our delegation of members from 17 countries and was the keynote speaker for our seminar. The seminar was held in a large room which held 400 people and was overflowing with members and guests. Our presence in Beijing, at the conference and at the NGO forum was an incredible networking opportunity which opened many doors for us worldwide and served as the beginning of our application process for N.G.O. status at the United Nations.
The Sisterhood Ceremonies – A New Era
In January of 1995, when it was decided that Sisterhood Ceremonies would be held between Japanese and American women, we became alive with great excitement and the plan for a beautiful Bridge of Peace Ceremony evolved. Catching the interest of leaders and opinion makers, (men and women throughout America), WFWP sponsored over the next two years, 129 bridge ceremonies and 17,000 pairs of Japanese and American women, who promised each other to be ambassadors of world peace.
Women who "crossed the bridge" spoke of this moving experience as a "moment of magic" – often a transcendental moment which deeply touched their lives. WFWP’s bridge became a significant event known in influential circles for its potential for conflict resolution.
When we completed the Japanese-American Sisterhood Ceremonies in December 1996, the interest in using this ceremony for interracial conflict resolution had already taken root. WFWP members in Florida sponsored a small, but very successful interracial ceremony. Heather Thalheimer of Boston was also planning a "Beyond the Dream" Ceremony. During the next two years, ceremonies were held in New York City and many cities throughout the country between women of many races – African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Caucasian, and others. Ceremonies were held on college campuses, high schools, nursing homes, in civic centers and churches.
Bridge of Love
In 1997, the bridge ceremony also became an opportunity for couples to rededicate their marriage vows. The beautiful and moving ceremony lent a romantic mystique for husbands and wives to put aside any marital conflicts and begin anew as they crossed the bridge to pledge eternal commitment to each other. Throughout the country, many WFWP chapters held such ceremonies in preparation for Blessing ‘97.
The Interracial Sisterhood Project
WFWP of California, where Onni Durst serves as Regional Chairwoman, found several groups of women who had a great interest in developing the Sisterhood Ceremonies as an effort to address the racial problems their cities faced. Under the tireless leadership of Sheri Reuter and Kimiyo Anceney in Los Angeles, the Interracial Sisterhood Project initiated many programs, including one where four racial groups sought healing among each other at the L.A. Civic Center. ISP leaders continue to be "on call" to bring the popular bridge to programs in schools and other places throughout the Los Angeles area. In San Francisco another group of women under the leadership of Christine Froelich and Christina Seher and Tomiko Nojima, developed an Interracial Sisterhood Project Board and continue to create programs. (More details about ISP to come in Part Two of this series).
In 1998, based on these women’s efforts, the Interracial Sisterhood Project was recognized by President Clinton as a "promising practice" for interracial conflict resolution as part of the President’s Initiative on Race. You will find this on the website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/initiatives/oneamerica/Practices/pp-19980804.4097.html
NGO Status at the United Nations
In 1997, the review for WFWP’s application for NGO General Consultative Status with the U.N. was completed and our requested status was granted, opening up a whole new relationship with the U.N. The long process of application and gathering of material internationally was taking place during the time of the Sisterhood Ceremonies. Much of the application work was done by Linda Perry at USA National Headquarters. The WFWP office in New York now has a WFWP International U.N. liaison office and Mrs. Motoko Sugiyama and myself serve as International Vice-President’s, relating to the International Office In Korea where Mrs. Gil Jo Sa serves as International President and Mrs. Lan Young Pak also serves as Vice President. I should mention here that Mrs. Sugiyama has been appointed to a new role to serve as our liaison at the U.N.
On June 15, 1997, just two days after the Blessing at Madison Square Garden, WFWP co- sponsored a speech on Female Genital Mutilation by Minister Jane Kuka of Uganda. Our first event at the U.N. was held in one of the Conference rooms and attended by over 300 people. Mrs. Angela King, special assistant to the Secretary General, delivered Kofi Aman’s speech. The program was a resounding success.
International Conferences and Convocations
November, 1997 was the time of Blessing at RFK Stadium. As part of the World Culture and Sports Festival, WFWP USA hosted an International WFWP Conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington D.C. Attended by 400 international delegates from 104 countries, the event featured plenary sessions, speakers, and a beautiful International Bridge Ceremony. At this conference we introduced the concept of creating "Partnerships for Peace", responding to our Founder’s direction that we find 50,000 women worldwide who will address world poverty.
In New York City, at the World Culture and Sports Festival II, in June of 1998, WFWP joined other organizations to sponsor a convocation on "The Family and World Peace". In February of 1999 we will join another convocation, "Family Ethics and World Peace", taking place in Asia.
Also in 1998, WFWP initiated our first annual Woman of the Year Award Ceremony.
In addition to traveling with our Founder on several countrywide speaking tours, WFWP leaders have made an effort to provide programs nationwide. In the spring of 1996, a four month tour on women’s spirituality covered every region. Currently, I am presenting one day marriage seminars entitled, "Creating Lifetime Marriages – Ten Reasons to Plan It and Ten Ways to Maintain It". These are very practical seminars designed to educate youth and couples as well as WFWP members and their families.
Having given this overview of WFWP from a national perspective, we want everyone to know that we would not have been able to create such an organizational foundation without the incredible grassroots work of WFWP members and leaders throughout the country. In Part Two of this series, we hope to highlight more of your work: the charity events, the projects of the Japanese members under Yoko Kobayashi’s leadership, the programs, the support you give to make WFWP a viable organization which will move us into the next millennium - an organization that will make a social impact and strengthen family life.
There is no doubt that today women are a vital voice in creating a moral compass for a world where so many suffer in poverty and hopelessness. WFWP has developed strong roots within our Founder’s concerns and efforts and has created branches throughout the country. Now is the time to nurture the blossoms and pick the fruit!
Early in 1997, our Founder appointed Karen Judd Smith, as the Secretary General of WFWP, USA. Karen has brought her skills as an efficient administrator to set up the office for a whole new level of activity. This includes increasing membership, communications through E-Mail, website development, interacting with U.N. programs and restructuring to accommodate the needs of WFWP chapters in the field. The following article by Karen outlines this restructuring and exciting new vision for WFWP – Into the Future!
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