Unification News for December 2000

The Founding of the North American Chapter of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP)

Frank Kaufmann

Leaders in the administration of Dr. Chang Shik Yang and Reverend Michael Jenkins convened concurrent initiatives in Chicago, Illinois from December 15 - 16, 2000. A two day meeting of the True Family Values Ministry entitled Empowering the Family, the Church, and Society through True Family Values took place in the Marriott Downtown Chicago, just two blocks from the international seminar of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) on the same days. The IIFWP conference was entitled Renewing the Family and Building a Culture of Peace.

The IIFWP conference, culminating with its August inaugural plenary, marked the official founding of the American chapter of the federation. With its December 16th inaugural, America joined all other UN Member States in establishing its own IIFWP chapter.

This initiative for founding national chapters, began in earnest following the conference Assembly 2000: Renewing the United Nations and Building a Culture of Peace, which was convened and sponsored by the IIFWP under the chairmanship of Ambassador Wakarim Wibisono, President of ECOSOC, at the United Nations in New York, from August 17 - 19, 2000.

Following this path breaking conference, the IIFWP launched an ambitious, education project in every one of the United Nations’ 190 member states. The IEP (International Education Project) seminars of the IIFWP are devoted to the study of values affirmed in the United Nations, Millennium Declaration. They are held in each country, and these occasions simultaneously provide the occasion for that nation to found and establish its IIFWP chapter.

December 16, 2000 marked the founding of the American Chapter of the IIFWP.

The American chapter, international seminar of the IIFWP began midday, Friday, December 15th, 2000 under the able moderation of Reverend Phillip Schanker, Vice-president of the North American Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU). Dr. Frank Kaufmann, Director of Religious Affairs for the IIFWP spoke on behalf of Dr. Thomas Walsh, Executive Director of the IIFWP who was delayed due to inclement weather affecting air travel throughout the region. Dr. Kaufmann explained to conference participants the history and mission of the IIFWP.

Following this introduction, panelists took up the issues of the first session entitled, Toward Global Dialogue and Cooperation Among Nations, International Civil Society, and Religions. Reverend Michael Dickerson, FFWP director for the State of Kentucky, presented readings on the topic followed by professional responses from Senator Donzella James of Georgia, and Dr. Frank Kaufmann of the IIFWP.

The second session was moderated by Reverend Kevin Thompson, Family Federation leader in Northern California, with readings from Reverend Godwin de Silva from the Family Federation in Southern California. Responding this time were Mr. David Caprara, founder and president of The Empowerment Network, and Dr. Muazzam Gill, Editor in Chief of the National Educator, and expert on security related issues.

The final session that day, Renewing the United Nations, occurred over dinner, moderated by Rev. Schanker. A brief reading by Mrs. Sheri Reuter, Vice-president of the Women’s Federation for World Peace-USA outlined the essential principles of the IIFWP vision. U.N. Ambassadors to the U.S. from Togo and Niger, joined by other African diplomats, as well as the President of the African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association, shared an impassioned response to Rev. Moon’s proposals for renewing the U.N. They urged the entire diplomatic community to consider these dramatic proposals carefully. Dr. Cheryl Lau, from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, capped off the evening with an engaging and thoughtful response.

These three sessions had a certain blessedness and magic about them. All speakers were somehow at the top of their game; like an athlete ‘in the zone.’ Each spoke substantially and eloquently, moderators were scintillating and effective, readers clear and communicative, and participants in the audience were attentive and engaged. Even under conditions of serious professional engagement of complex and weighty issues speakers received standing ovations, joy and laughter often flowed through us all, abundant conversation filled every fleeting moment, and the community seemed to gel to an uncommon degree around the vision which took shape throughout the course of the seminar.

On the following morning (December 16, 2000), the formal and official inaugural of the American chapter of the IIFWP took place from 9:30 - 11:00. This too bore evident blessing. Reverend Schanker moderated for a panel of 6 speakers, culminating in the Keynote Address given by Reverend Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of the Board of the IIFWP. Here on this occasion of particular grandeur, Reverend Schanker continued to manifest his superior skills as a session moderator. Over 500 delegates were in attendance (as both the True Family Values participants, and the IIFWP international seminar participants gathered together for this momentous occasion.)

The session opened with words of welcome and reflection from the North American Continental Director of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, Dr. Chang Shik Yang. He was followed by the dynamic and stirring oratory of Pastor T.L. Barrett, Superintendent of the Chicago area Church of God In Christ, and Co-chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference. Dr. Barrett was followed by Professor Cheryl Lau. Dr. Lau by contrast presented her reflections with a quiet and studied elegance, equally as effective and engaging. Drs. Lau and Barrett spoke from their positions as members of a small and select international advisory body to the headquarters and main leadership of the IIFWP international. This body was appointed during Assembly 2000.

Then followed a high point of this decorous founding moment. State Senator William Owens of Massachusetts gave a moving and heartfelt introduction to the keynote speaker of the occasion, the Reverend Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak.. Also as this time Drs. Thomas Walsh and Frank Kaufmann were introduced to those in attendance as representatives from the international leadership of the IIFWP.

Reverend Kwak spoke at some length from a prepared text. The speech was staid and laden with information and purpose. Much of IIFWP’s eminent activity and history was laid forth in concise narrative, the purpose and future vision was elaborated as inspiration, and the conclusion wed the dreams of the IIFWP to the best dreams of America and its high minded leaders and citizens.

Finally, the three newly appointed co-chairs of the American IIFWP chapter were honored, and each shared their heart and thoughts at this historic moment. Dr. Billy McCormack, founding board member of the Christian Coalition, Louisiana pastor and the Governor’s Director of Drug Prevention in that state, spoke movingly of his youthful days picking cotton and plowing the fields by horse on his sharecropper-grandfather’s farm in Tennessee. He shared the experiences that led him to crusade all of his living days as a warrior for racial equality, justice, and harmony. Many were brought to tears. Next, Reverend Michael Jenkins reflected upon the great pioneers working to build racial harmony in our century (most especially the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), and expressed his deep sense of honor in sharing the chairmanship of IIFWP-USA. Lastly, the Hon. Danny Davis, U.S. Representative from Illinois’ 7th district, member of the Congressional Black Caucus and himself a sharecropper’s grandson and fighter for racial harmony, spoke eloquently of IIFWP’s mission of promoting peace.

Once again, from the viewpoint of this writer, this closing plenary and IIFWP inauguration carried with it that same magic and blessedness. The atmosphere felt electric with purpose, and warm with a feeling of family love, from among a large community who felt that we stood a chance somehow to make a difference; a difference for families, for couple, for young people, and for our nation and the world.

We concluded and headed across to the 5th Annual Awards Banquet of the True Family Values Ministry. This glorious event is described on these pages.

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