Unification News for May 2002

Ambassadors Breakfast at the UN on the World Peace Blessing

Nadine Andre

On Friday, March 26, 2002 -- the day before the "Stand for Family, Save the Nation" Blessing event in Washington DC -- the IIFWP hosted an Ambassadors Breakfast at the UN. The purpose of the breakfast was to help the Ambassadors, members of the UN Secretariat Staff and all those who attended, better understand the profound contribution to the goals and aims of the Special Session on Children being made by this world-wide grassroots 'renewal of commitments,' movement, culminating the following day in Washington DC and around the world.

According to Mrs. Karen Smith, Director of the UN IIFWP Office, "The worldwide initiative under the banner World Peace Blessing 2002, contributes substantially to the realization of the goals and targets of, 'A World Fit for Children.'

"This interfaith movement involves literally thousands of churches, mosques and synagogues world wide drawing on their moral authority to inspire the renewal and commitment of couples and families to actions that have the capacity to provide for children the healthiest lives, optimal conditions for education, protection from abuse, exploitation, violence and most importantly, protection from HIV/AIDS."

Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, gave the Opening Remarks saying, "Tomorrow, in Washington D.C. there will be an historic, public celebration of marriage and family as the foundation for the restoration of our nations and the world. Religious leaders from a wide range of backgrounds will gather together to demonstrate their shared commitment to the moral and spiritual ideals of true love and true family.

"In this way, the World Peace Blessing brings about a unity that transcends race, nationality, denomination, religion and culture. Through this movement, not only can we transform individuals and families, we can also transform the world. For, as we create a culture of peace within our families, we will eventually create a culture of peace throughout the world."

Dr. Kwak explained that this initiative started by Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and supported by religious leaders world wide, although misunderstood and often perceived as 'strange,' was in fact winning the support of many religious leaders and political leaders as a tool that can indeed regenerate and revitalize the most fundamental unit of society, the family. Starting between husband and wife, who vow to commit their marriage and thus their family to the pursuit of world peace, the movement is a true grassroots movement.

Although the UN is an arena that predominantly looks upon solutions to pressing world problems through diplomatic, governmental and economic means, the breakfast brought to bear how the most fundamental aspects of humanity's culture; religion, ethics, and morality, has a huge role to play within the formula of what many are calling, 'a new paradigm for international relations.'

However, the question often asked is, "But whose morality, whose religion?" So to these ends the breakfast program included leaders of three of the world's major religions. They presented their perspectives on marriage and family, what makes for the ultimate well-being of children, and their views of the 'Stand for Family, Stand for Nation'' movement.

The religious leaders who spoke were Rabbi Itzhak Bar-Dea, Chief Rabbi of the Ramat Gan Rabbinate in Israel, representing Judaism, Rev. T.L. Barrett, Superintendent of the Church of God in Christ, Chicao, IL. representing Christianity and Imam Ameer Salahud'din, resident Imam and co-founder of the Islamic Center of Passaic/Paterson, New Jersey, the oldest Islamic Center in the city of Paterson, representing Islam.

These three religious leaders representing three major world religions spoke in concert over breakfast in the Delegates Lounge at the United Nations headquarters, about what would be optimal for creating a 'World Fit for Children.'

While we witness a world torn by historical resentments, hatred and war, the ability of the International World Peace Blessing Initiative to bring the world's religious leaders together in harmony and dialogue and then to broaden that dialogue to include the political, diplomatic and economic leaders of the world shows it to be a challenging yet ennobling undertaking.

Approximately 75 participants including 53 Ambassadors, diplomatic and UN Secretariat staff, representing over 52 nations attended the program. The program, although atypical for the UN was well received. Many attending the breakfast expected a business as usual briefing but instead heard about an unusual and powerful interfaith movement of marriage and family from three religious leaders. One of the Ambassadors upon leaving said, "After the mornings presentations I am definitely in a position to better handle the challenges of my rigorous day."

Another highlight of the morning was the beautiful music of the Japanese Peace choir. Comprised of Japanese volunteers working with the UN IIFWP Office, they added beauty, grace and dignity to the event, from beginning to end. Under the supervision of Mrs. Kyoko Sato, Associate Director of Volunteers and Mr. Ricardo de Sena, Director of Volunteers, they constructed hand-made invitation cards for the breakfast meeting that were the epitome of design and elegance. These invitations were then hand delivered to the different Missions.

The Peace choir dressed in their traditional and beautiful Kimonos. They sang a Japanese and a Korean song to open the program, much to the delight of the Korean Chef de Cabinet of the President of the General Assembly. To close the program, the Peace choir sang a stirring rendition of "Let There Be Peace on Earth," while joining the audience to form a peace circle.

For more information about this event, the full text of the speakers and photographs, please visit the website of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace http://www.iifwp.org in the next few days and/or sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter, the IIFWP eNews.

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