Unification News for August 1999

International Federation for World Peace First International Seminar

"True Families as the Foundation for World Peace in the New Millennium"
by Dr. Thomas G. Walsh—Louisville, KY

On the last weekend of July, in Washington, D.C., a historic event took place: the first International Seminar on "True Families as the Foundation for World Peace in the New Millennium," or, as it came to be called, the "Hoon Dok Hae" conference. Around the first week of July, Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of the recently established Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), received direction from Father to convene this conference before the end of the month and to bring together two hundred distinguished participants representing more than forty nations. Father gave specific direction that the content of the conference program—unlike any previous international conference for VIP contacts—should be dedicated to a series of hoon dok hae readings. The conference was sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace and the World University Federation.

Father’s direction was that from each country, three participants should be invited; one should be a religious leader, one a political leader and the other an academic leader. Initially forty-three nations were asked to bring three participants each. In addition, Rev. Chang Shik Yang, Continental Director for North America, was asked to bring two participants—one religious leader and one political leader—from each state where Mother spoke on her recent speaking tour in the United States. There were twenty-two states where Mother spoke, and so North America was asked to bring forty-four additional guests to the seminar.

In response to Father’s direction, Rev. Kwak quickly set up a Seminar Secretariat under the leadership of Mr. Neil Salonen, who then appointed Dr. Thomas Walsh as the Seminar Coordinator and Dr. Frank Kaufmann as the Program Director. Rev. Kwak informed the Continental Directors of Father’s direction, and assigned quotas for each continent. All participants were then approached and invited directly by our movement’s leaders in the assigned countries. The response on the part of the global leadership of our movement was immediate. They quickly went to work, and soon began submitting names of their recommended invitees. In a short time, the participant list rose to two-hundred and fourteen, with fifty-one nations represented. This was truly a remarkable achievement.

The seminar program included a series of seven ninety-minute hoon dok hae sessions.

The readings focused on the following themes: Life on Earth and in the Spirit World; The Ideal of True Parents; The Ideal of True Family; The Prayers of Sun Myung Moon; The Kingdom of God; and, Passages from Dr. Lee. The hoon dok hae readers were Dr. Tyler Hendricks, President of FFWPU-USA, and Mrs. Myra Stanecki, President of the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Life Institute, both of whom read with great dignity, vitality, heart, and, on occasion, tears. As one participant from France, Claude Durand-Berger, put it, "It was a very opportune, useful and inspired idea to gather all these people, coming from all parts of the world, around hoon dok hae. It helped us to know better, and more completely, the message of Rev. Moon and it helped Rev. Moon’s message to be more strongly asserted and still more widespread, at a particularly opportune moment in the evolution of the world and in the development of Unification Thought."

Mr. William Reed, a journalist in the USA, said, "As one who has been a participant in numerous programs of the UC, I was very pleased to have such a program on Rev. Moon’s speeches and teachings. In addition to the Divine Principle, I was pleased and enlightened to participate in the hoon dok hae programs. It helps me to better know my Unification friends and the source of the vision of Rev. Moon. Please keep this concept and build upon it."

Each hoon dok hae session was followed by responses from two assigned discussants, one an FFWPU church member and the other a distinguished contact familiar with the work of our movement. Discussants for session one, on "Life on Earth and in the Spirit World," were, Rev. T. L. Barrett of the Life Center Church in Chicago and Dr. Andrew Wilson of Unification Theological Seminary. Session two discussants, on the same theme, were Rev. Michael Jenkins a Vice-President of FFWPU-USA and Dr. Cromwell Crawford of the University of Hawaii. Session Three discussants, on the topic of "True Parents," were Dr. Marcelo Alonso, a physicist formerly with the Florida Institute of Technology and currently Chair of the Academic Advisory Board for the World University Federation, and Dr. Anthony Guerra who is Dean of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies at the University of Bridgeport. The discussants for the session on "The Ideal of True Family" were Dr. Mouazzam Gill a journalist with The National Educator and Dr. Gordon Anderson of Professors World Peace Academy. The session on "The Prayers of Sun Myung Moon" was discussed by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Immigrants and Refugees, Fr. Lawrence Fares of St. Ronald’s Catholic Church in Detroit, and Dr. Thomas Ward a Visiting Professor at the University of Bridgeport. "The Kingdom of God" was discussed by Mr. Gerald Coleman of FFWPU in Liberia and Chevalier Pier Giorgio Buttigieg of the Bahai Community of Malta. The final session was entitled, "Passages from Dr. Lee," and the discussants were Dr. Thomas Selover of the University of Saskatchewan and Mr. Alain Nicolier of the Swedenborg Church in France.

The reflections of the various discussants were both deeply insightful, informative and moving. The subject matter of True Parents words was taken with utmost respect and seriousness. The non-Unificationist commentators were especially interesting due to the fresh and creative way in which they related to Father’s words from their own areas of expertise—spirituality, physics, moral education, politics, journalism, etc. Their comments also underscored the universalism inherent in Father’s words. The Unificationist respondents, on the other hand, brought a different kind of depth to the discussion, rooted in their many years of personal engagement with the words. They also provided very useful explanation of some key concepts, helping to make what appeared as new and unconventional ideas understandable.

I must add that it was clear that the Unificationist commentators were themselves deeply inspired by the seminar, and by the quality of the participants. Their comments as discussants were not only intellectually impressive and rich, but heartfelt. Any Unificationist would have been very proud to observe their work at this seminar.

Although True Parents were unable to attend this seminar, we were blessed with the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Hyun Jin Moon. Hyun Jin Moon, the Vice-President of FFWPU International, spoke to the participants at a banquet on Saturday evening. He emphasized the importance of his parents’ work, and praised the participants for their awareness of a need for a global consciousness, moving beyond provincial thinking in relation to religion, nationality, race or culture. Participants were inspired and moved by his remarks. As stated by one participant, "The presence of Rev. Moon’s son was a gift from God." And another said, "I can see a clear future for the movement of Rev. Moon through his son."

In the evenings, during the seminar, there were special presentations on activities inspired by the words of True Parents. The first evening, two representatives of Pure Love Alliance—Mrs. Michelle Myers, Director of Public Relations for PLA, and Mr. Steve Schneider, Educational Director of PLA’s Chicago Chapter—gave a very informative and uplifting report on the work of PLA in the USA and worldwide. The response to this presentation was overwhelmingly positive, with participants repeatedly inquiring about bringing PLA to their own countries. The following evening, Mr. Michael Smith, Executive Director of the American Constitution Committee, gave a powerful report on the "Parents Day" initiative promoting the ideal of the family throughout the United States of America. Once again, this presentation brought inspiration and hope to the participants, as well as numerous inquiries as to how to establish a Parents Day initiative in their home countries. Dr. Rahat Achylova, a member of Parliament in Kyrgyzstan, announced that she was "determined to organize ‘Parents Day’ in Kyrgyzstan."

People of all faiths—Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Bahai, Swedenborgian, Native American, Traditional African, Unificationist, and even a former Marxist—found the hoon dok hae to be an eye-opening and even transformative experience. Dorothy Allen, a participant form the USA, said "The PLA presentation by the young people was encouraging, because it is a grass roots movement and it will gain momentum and help reverse immoral behavior. Thanks to True Family for initiating this abstinence program and taking it to the schools, and the world. Thank you, Dr. Moon, for your concern about morality, and importance of the family as a basic unit....All your thinking is years ahead of its time. The people in your church are wonderful."

Bishop Abraham Olaleye of Nigeria commented that, "I am grateful for the spirit of respect for all religions and particular for the love expressed for Jesus Christ. I was very moved by the teaching of Rev. Moon concerning grandparents, parents and children and that a True Family will always take care of the grandparents....Also I am deeply moved by the respect Rev. Moon teaches for the ancestors. I am so inspired I believe we must call upon the United Nations to create a "Family Campaign." Let us call upon all the Ambassadors of the United Nations and ask them to initiate this."

Dr. Mohamad Jodeh, Chairman of the Colorado Muslim Society, stated that, "My favorite reading was Rev. Moon’s teaching on the True Family. I felt that if you were to change the titles that you could not distinguish it form the Holy Koran. It is the same word of God."

Fr. Gleb Yakunin, a Russian Orthodox priest, and former dissident who spent eight years in prison for his faith, was deeply moved by the program, and repeatedly asked that Father’s prayers be translated into Russian. In addition he testified again and again that Father is the only hope for stopping the rising tide of immorality and family breakdown."

However, not only the participants unfamiliar with hoon dok hae were moved by their experience, but many veterans of hoon dok hae as well. Dr. Anthony Guerra made the following reflections, "I have been comparing in my heart and mind over the past few days this first hoon dok hae conference with the many other Unification-centered seminars for VIP guests. The strongest metaphor I am left with is that of the difference between the atomic bomb and conventional weapons. In this hoon dok hae conference, our guests and also we members, are challenged by the direct words of True Parents. In the atmosphere created by Father’s words, we all seem to be delivered from our old selves and recreated in his image.....Father has given us the formula for Pentecost."

And, as Myra Stanecki put it, "At time I found myself trembling with excitement, knowing that these are the kind of DP workshops that our movement should have been having forty years ago, focused on the world’s leadership and those most prepared by God."

This International Seminar, pulled together with a whirlwind of activity, came together with awesome power and beauty. Everyone was touched by the power of God’s word. Some of us on the staff, wondering how this innovative, shall we say risky program would be received, were once again struck by the wisdom of True Parents and the power of God’s truth.

This first international "hoon dok hae" conference is not to be the last. Already two follow up conferences are being planned for September and October of this year.

Dr. Walsh is the Deputy Secretary General of the IIFWP

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