Unification News for November 1999

Second IIFWP International Seminar

Thomas G. Walsh
Louisville KY

On September 17-20, 1999, in Washington, D.C.,—coinciding with the air travel havoc and power outages related to hurricane Floyd— the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, along with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the World University Federation and the World Media Association, sponsored the second International Seminar on "True Families as the Foundation for World Peace in the New Millennium," also know as the "hoon dok hae" seminars. This seminar attracted more than 200 participants from fifty-five nations. Drawing from the constituencies of the respective sponsoring organizations, the participants were primarily political leaders, religious leaders, academics and persons from the media.

The IIFWP, building on the foundation of all the various projects initiated over the years by our True Parents, seeks to work with a wide range of religious, political, academic and civic leaders in order to promote world peace. These seminars contribute to that purpose by convening world leaders from all areas of expertise to study and discuss matters of profound religious or spiritual significance. In this way, the internal aspects of the global peace process—aspects too frequently neglected or avoided in conventional peace efforts—are explored in an open, conscientious way. Through the study of Father’s words, people of all faiths and nationalities come to a greater appreciation of our common values and shared concerns. Moreover, those who have studied at these seminars graduate with a broader, more inclusive vision of world peace, and they come to appreciate the contribution which True Parents have to make at this time in history.

As was the case with the first seminar the program (see article in issue x, volume x) featured, over a three-day period, seven sessions of "hoon dok hae" readings, centering on themes such as True Parents, the Kingdom of God, Life on Earth and the Spirit World and Prayer. Each reading session was, then, followed by the commentary of two discussants. In the late afternoon, the participants joined small discussion groups. Other special presentations for this seminar included the Pure Love Alliance and the Religious Youth Service.

The seminar participants were challenged, stimulated and ultimately inspired by their direct encounter with the words of True Parents. As Dr. Gordon Anderson of PWPA noted, "In many past conferences, we Unificationists stood as interpreters or mediators of True Parents message. In these seminars, however, the participant has a direct encounter with the word. They seem to be more transformed in this way, than they were in the past when we presented lectures ourselves."

In fact, with this second seminar, the participants received an even more direct encounter with True Parents. Although True Parents were intending to travel to South America the day before the seminar was to begin, we learned the day of the seminar that they had changed plans and decided to come to Washington, DC and be present at the Closing Banquet on September 19. One account stated that True Parents change of plans was stimulated by the presence of the hurricane which made air travel impossible on the scheduled day of departure; it was reported that Father took this as a sign that he should "do something for North America" before heading south. Indeed he did. At the Closing Banquet, at the conclusion of an inspiring three days of reflecting on True Parents words, Father personally delivered a speech he had given on February 21, 1980 in New York City, on the occasion of Father’s sixtieth Birthday. The speech was entitled "Ideal Nation [Fatherland?] of God" or "there was some other title given too, so please check."

The theme of this speech, "forgiveness of one’s enemies" as the key to success and the primary quality of God’s nation or fatherland, was very well-received by the participants. Having spent so much time studying Father’s words, they had a great foundation for receiving True Parents at that moment. As part of the banquet program, True Parents personally presented seminar graduation certificates to a representative from each continent. In turn many participants presented gifts they had prepared for True Parents. There was a joyful and loving spirit. In fact, there were several reports of participants who had come with a somewhat cynical or distant attitude who, by the close of the banquet, were gushing with warmheartedness and gratitude. In the words of one participant, "The peak moment of the seminar, its greatest blessing was meeting Rev. Moon."

One other surprise feature of the seminar was a visit from the Vice-President of Uganda, Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe. She was in New York for a series of meetings at the United Nations. At the invitation of Mr. Neil Salonen, the Vice-President agreed to attend the seminar and speak to the participants. Having come to feel very close to True Mother as a result of her visit to Uganda earlier this year, the Vice-President felt very much at home, and delivered a moving speech to the participants. Her visit culminated with the premier performance of the song, "Soulin," written by David Eaton of the New York City Symphony, and presented by the performed, Mzuri. This is the theme song of the Blessing initiative which the Vice-President is promoting in Uganda.

Father recently Directed Rev. Kwak to organize an additional four seminars, making a total of seven, between now and February, when we will celebrate True Parents Birthday. This means that the participating fifty-five nations will each have sent a total of twenty-one participants to these seminars, thereby making a foundation both for the convening of similar seminars in their nation, but for bringing about the complete restoration of the nation.

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