Unification News for September 2002
London ILS Fosters Interreligious Unity
by Tim Read
The 38th International Leadership Seminar was held in London, England August 3, 2002 -- one day prior to the 2nd Summit of World Muslim Leaders that was also taking place in London. The 90 participants who comprised the leadership Seminar included a vast array of backgrounds and religions and included 31 Muslims, 21 Christians, 10 Hindus, 3 Buddhists, 5 Sikhs, 2 Scientologists, 1 Jew, 1 Jain and 16 Unificationists.
Mr. Iqbal Hussain, a writer and social scientist of international acclaim said, "The IIFWP Seminars have great potential as they are not confined to any specific religion. They embrace almost all of the world’s religions and underline the importance of goodness, love and humility which are common to all religions."
The seminar followed its usual schedule with an inspiring opening plenary Keynote Address given by Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, followed by a video and powerpoint introduction to the IIFWP given by Dr. Thomas Walsh.
The second session consisted of a number of presentations. The first, on the World Association of NGOs (WANGO), was given by the Secretary General of WANGO, Mr. Taj Hamad. He said, "Since 9/11 the face of Islam has become tarnished, and many people misunderstand what it is all about." He talked about the Second Summit of World Muslim Leaders, which was to be held the next day, as an opportunity for Muslims to promote greater understanding.
Further presentations on IIFWP activities in Britain followed. Dr. David Earle gave a presentation on the Hyderabad Interfaith Children’s Home that houses 32 children and acts as a model for communal harmony in the region as well as providing a focus for interfaith activity in Britain, where most of the funds are raised.
The next presentation by Mrs. Margaret Ali was on a series of conferences that IIFWP conducts every two months on the theme, ‘The Role of Religious Leaders in Building a New Britain.’ The session was concluded with two short presentations, one on the monthly interfaith meeting, ‘Prayers for Peace,’ which is held in a number of locations in Britain, and the second on the re-launch of the International Relief Friendship Foundation in Britain.
The third and fourth sessions were dedicated to two profound presentations on ‘The Significance of Eternal Life and the Spirit World’ and on ‘Marriage, Family and Blessing,’ which were followed by the world peace marriage rededication ceremony in which the whole audience participated.
Mrs. Ahlam Mira Akram, from the Arab Organization for Human Rights, who is campaigning for an Arab/Israeli women’s reconciliation group, said in her closing remarks, "This is a great message. How can we get this into the media? This is just what we need – to get people to meet and talk together from all types of backgrounds."
Mr. Alan Rainer, a Religious Education teacher who gave the welcoming remarks in the first session said about Rev Kwak’s talk, "This was taught with a brutal honesty that cannot be denied. One should teach in schools like this. It is such a rare opportunity to meet a man who is speaking about God and who really knows what he is talking about. I am so grateful to have been invited."
Rev. Victoria Maginley who gave the opening invocation and is founder of the Trinity Fellowship that promotes spiritual growth and has done extensive work with the untouchables in India, living and working with them for several months at a time said, "I felt an impressive presence of God throughout the whole day."
Rev. Daniel Moughrabi, a Christian from an Arabic background and his wife were moved to tears when they personally came forth for the world peace blessing and said, "We already learned of the importance of working together. Under the direction of Rev. Dr. Moon and all the other leaders there is great potential to make significant contributions to world peace."
Others present at the seminar included Dr. Natubhai Shah who is the President of the Jain community in the U.K., Mr. O. P. Sharma who is the President of the Hindu Council of Temples in the U.K. and Dr Iftikhar Ayaz MBE, the Honorary Consul for Tuvalu.
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