Unification News for April 2002

Ivory Coast International Leadership Seminar

by Dr. Frank Kaufmann

Despite several recent changes in government, including periods of extreme social unrest, local IIFWP leadership successfully convened significant religious, political, and social leadership to participate in a one day seminar in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on March 24, 2002.

Particularly to be noted among the approximately 100 participants were Muslim Sheikh Nafillah, and the honorable Seraphin Oule Tia Seraphin, representing the president of the National Assembly. Sheikh Nafillah is a nationally recognized and respected leader who has been instrumental in recent times to bring about peace and calm during recent disorder. Honorable Tia of the National Assembly likewise is a figure of peace and represents a call for a stable and peaceful future for the Ivory Coast. The latter is further distinguished by the fact that he from among many choices would be chosen by the president of the National Assembly to be his representative.

The program followed the standard pattern of IIFWP leadership seminars. The program opened with welcome remarks from prominent leaders and long time supporters of Unification efforts, followed by lectures and powerpoint presentations both to introduce and deepen the knowledge of the program, concept, and content of the international agenda of the IIFWP.

Welcome came from Dr. Kore Guei, Ivory Coast president of the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA), and from Mr. Emmanuel Gbocho, Ivory Coast president of the IIFWP. Dr. Guei offered a fascinating account on the nature and possibility of peace, building much of his presentation on an exchange of letters on the subject between Professors Freud and Einstein. Mr. Gbocho followed, insisting upon the peaceful nature of Ivorians, recent disturbance and disorder notwithstanding.

Mr. Oule Tia, representing the president of the National Assembly gave a stirring talk and welcome, which included an explanation of how the geography of his representation has affected his commitment for peace. He represents a district which lies on the border from which he experiences a steady flow of Liberian refugees. This experience makes him a deeply committed and passionate leader for peace.

This opening plenary was followed by Dr. Thomas Walsh, IIFWP Secretary General, introducing the IIFWP by way of video, and then introducing its Chairman and President Reverend Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, to offer an introductory keynote address for the conference.

Lunch followed and the program continue with a number of presentations designed to further familiarize participants with the broad range of IIFWP commitments and activities. Dr. Walsh offered a powerpoint introduction of the IIFWP, Ms. Kathy Rigney presented the AIDS Prevention education carried out by IIFWP throughout Africa, and Frank Kaufmann presented the history of programs for religion and peace preceding and during the time of IIFWP international outreach.

The seminar concluded with a paired speech by Dr. Kwak. Dr. Kwak presented first a talk on the Spiritual World, its reality, and its role in the pursuit of peace, and concluded with a talk on the Marriage, Family, and World Peace. At the end of these speeches Dr. Kwak offered a ceremony of Blessing to participants and their families moved to engage the IIFWP at this level. A significant percentage of those present were anxious to create of their own couples Blessed Families, resulting in a ceremony at the end of Dr. Kwak's talk which has the heart warming qualities of family love and commitment to peace.

The closing banquet was festive and full of hope and happiness. At the head table the honorable Tia expressed the view that the top leadership from all political parties in the country should be required to pass through the education offered at this one day seminar.

Sheikh Nafillah spoke publicly at the end asking religious leaders to take the teachings offered at this seminar seriously, claiming that they hold an insight into the origins of conflict, as well as wisdom for its resolution.

"This is a very high teaching," proclaimed the Sheikh, "It is a teaching which comes from God which can adopt itself to any religion. We need this."

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