Unification News for December 2001
St. Louis, Missouri
by Rev. Michael Jenkins
The Missouri International Leadership Conference, held November 24, 2001, at the St. Louis Salad Bowl, was unusually successful in a couple ways. First, a high percent of those that confirmed actually attended. In fact, a number of them went through the extra work of adjusting their schedules due to the Thanksgiving holidays. Some even brought their relatives, rather than missing the ILC if their family happened to be visiting at that time. Second, the conference room filled early, with more tables and chairs being brought in to handle the larger-than-expected audience.
Bishop Irma A. Cannida, pastor of Greater True Vine Spiritual Church of Jesus Christ and long-time friend of the movement, opened the conference with a beautiful invocation. Carl Swearson, president of the American Family Coalition of Missouri, gave opening remarks. He was followed by Chicago Family Federation Regional Director, Rev. Ki Hoon Kim, presenting Rev. Kwak's welcoming address.
Rev. Kathy Rigney delivered the IIFWP PowerPoint presentation, giving the audience an excellent outline of the work of True Parents around the globe over the past half century. Kathy is a St. Louis native, who in 1975, became a Unification Church missionary to Africa. She served as the Continental Leader of the Africa from 1993 through 2000, but still travels there to oversee its continued development. Everyone deeply appreciated that, through the presentation, she interjected first hand accounts of the positive impact of the IIFWP around the world.
Mrs. Earlice Wrice, of Missouri Women's Federation for World Peace, gave a spirit filled reading on marriage and parenting principles with such love that the audience truly caught the heart behind our True Parents’ words. Next, Sister Andrea Muhammad, a wife, mother, teacher and Protocol Director at Muhammad Mosque in St. Louis, gave a moving commentary saying, "husbands and wives, when you are submissive to God and to each other, the children are raised in an atmosphere of holiness and the whole society benefits from a Godly family." Bishop Irma Cannida then spoke about the family and touched on the detrimental affects of divorce. She also emphasized how we need to seriously come to God in prayer when seeking a spouse saying, "If you are asking God for nothing, then that's probably what you will get."
Rev. Leonard Wrice, Missouri State Director of the Family Federation, served as the luncheon and afternoon master of ceremonies. He did a wonderful job of introducing the speakers and keeping the program on schedule. Mr. and Mrs. Ahmed, directors of the Islamic Information Center, were the first speakers at the luncheon. Born in India, they are now citizens of America, migrating in 1977. Both have Masters Degree in Economic and Political Science. Mr. They gave an excellent overview of the basic tenets of Islam as a religion of peace when correctly practiced. Mr. and Mrs. Ahmed were both taken by the level of concern and interest in understanding Muslims on the part of the Christian community. He later shared his frustration with other organizations he has affiliated, stating, "This is what they should be doing. I am so honored to have the opportunity to be with you today. Let me know how we can work together."
Judge David C. Mason was the featured luncheon speaker, sharing his own experiences in growing up in poverty, but in a home where the word of God was lived, with his brother and grandmother. Many things she taught them through her own modeling examples of faith, love and sharing he didn't truly realize until many years later he told the audience. Judge Mason later had these comments on the ILC, "Keep doing this and do it as big as possible. This message is the perfect cure for world violence and disunity. This is a great movement, a God-driven movement. I am honored and blessed to be able to participate."
Mrs. Barbara Harrington Smith, sister to Kathy Rigney and an African missionary for 18 years, gave True Mother's speech, "The Nation and World of Peace Sought by God and Humanity." Although it was in the afternoon, Barbara was able to keep the attention of everyone due to the heart and content she conveyed.
AFC President, Carl Swearson, gave excerpts of past speeches of True Father on topics relating to eternal life and the spirit world. Before the Ambassadors for Peace were announced and awarded, Rev. Ki Hoon Kim spoke about their expected roles as road builders and bridge builders as living testimonies to the truth and relevance of 'living for the sake of others."
Although we had prepared for 65, the Missouri ILC accommodated 80 guests. After the event, some who had not been those numbered among the 50 Ambassador for Peace honorees, came forward and requested that they also be considered to be appointed as an "Ambassador for Peace."
Arch-Bishop Michael A. West, D.D.; Ph.D. is Missouri's first appointed Ambassador for Peace. He is pastor and founder of the St. Michael's Temple of the Expanded Mind in St. Louis. "I was greatly impressed with the coming together of multicultural and widely diverse religious groups… This seminar gives me great hope for the future, for as the dialogue progressed, the climate of understanding led me to see the potential for great progress beyond dialogue."
Dr. John N. Doggett, a retired District Supervisor with the United Methodist Church who was also one of the AP recipients, summed it this way, "The Ambassador for Peace concept is basic to the good life which the world needs. We shall champion the cause."
Another Ambassador for Peace recipient, Honorable Darius J. Whitson, proclaimed, "This conference was an eye opener. The Ambassadors for Peace concept has my full support. May the Lord Jesus bless Father Moon and Mother Moon! I propose a think tank come together on how to best develop and expand what has been started here."
Gedlu Metaferia, Executive Director of the Ethiopian Community Association in Missouri, was so inspired by the event that he insisted that a conference on conflict resolution be organized in St. Louis by February of next year. "God has been pushing me to put together a program such as this and I need your help. Promise me you won't allow me to miss any of these in the future," he said. Gedlu has already obtained approval for partial funding and contacted prominent speakers who have agreed to participate without charging an honorarium. Mr. Metaferia, also one of the AP recipients, has requested that a representative of the IIFWP also be a presenter at this conference. As a sidebar, Gedlu is now giving serious thought to the Blessing and has asked that he be submitted as a candidate for the 2002 blessing.
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