Section 3: God Conference and Heavenly Parents’ Holy Community

Chairman: Dr. Franco Famularo, UPF President, Canada

Presenter 6: Dr. Frank Kaufmann (USA) spoke on “Interfaith as God’s Work: Enduring Gifts of Peace to the Religious World.” First, Dr. Kaufmann summarized his written paper on why the True Parents do interreligious work. He said that it comes from Father Moon’s subjective work in the spirit world, after having received his mission from Jesus, in which he saw directly the pain that disputes between religions have wrought within God. Thus, religious leaders have the responsibility to invest in interreligious dialogue.

But how is interfaith harmony to be realized? Two basic realities in the religious world must be identified:

  1. Simple differences among religions
  2. Discord among religious and faith groups

For the first issue, why are there many religions, he asked? They are like children of the one parent, God, who established religions under various historical and geographical realities to care for his children throughout history. Religions have different personality traits like the different children in a family. This is to be expected and is not a problem per se.

As to discord, Kaufmann asks: “Can it be fixed? If yes, why has it not been fixed already? And if not, why are we involved with interfaith work at all?” He points to the interfaith work of True Parents as a process of finding the precise cause, then following the reverse path to diminish religious discord and finally end it. The path to reverse religious discord, according to Kaufmann, is described in the Principle of Restoration elaborated in the Divine Principle, Rev. Moon’s primary religious text.

Presenter 7: Dr. Maribel Barreto (Brazil) spoke on “Peace as a Fruit of Divinization: The Role of Consciousness in the Face of Current Challenges.” She noted that consciousness helps us to open our perception internally and externally to live a fully integrated life. After leading the audience in a brief meditation in which she suggested those present to get in touch with and recognize the God within, she paid tribute to Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon’s inspiration of peace coming from a calm yet bold practitioner of the motto “Peace Starts with Me.”

Barreto then elaborated on “consciousness” as an innate faculty of humans – a compass to guide us to the Divine which we should consult with for the divine laws it holds within. She elaborated three stages of human consciousness which could become the basis for an educational project for the betterment of the human condition.

Presenter 8: Dr. Tyler Hendricks (USA) spoke on “The Interreligious Roots of the Heavenly Parents’ Holy Community.” He described the trajectory of interreligious work of the True Parents from the “God: The Contemporary Discussion” conference in 1981 to the “Heavenly Parents’ Holy Community,” an umbrella name designating the entire range of Unification Movement projects. Hendricks claimed the Unification Movement evolved from a denominational group in the 1950s through to the Heavenly Parents’ Holy Community conglomeration of projects with the continual development of the ecumenical and interfaith core. Citing a number of key milestones of the interreligious work, he highlighted how Rev. Moon reached out to the Muslim community, holding blessing ceremonies for Muslim clerics and members, as well as the creation of the Interreligious Federation for World Peace and the Women’s Federation for World Peace in the 1990s.

He noted that Rev. Moon’s called religious leaders to go beyond their usual boundaries to participate in the Blessing movement which would support interreligious harmony and cultural understanding. Ultimately, this led to his call to the United Nations to create an interfaith council at the UN to help guide the UN in its work for peace by involving the representatives of the worldwide communities of believers.

Dr. Nuno André, Professor and Investigator, New University of Lisbon, PortugalDr. Nuno André, Professor and Investigator, New University of Lisbon, PortugalCommentator: Dr. Nuno Andre Amaral Atunes (Portugal) commented that there are some interesting theological lessons from the scriptures, for instance, the Hebrew word for “spirit of God” is “Ruach.” And the spirit, the “Ruach,” goes into the man made of soil, “Adamma,” to become a human being. Thus, when a baby is born, it has to expel the amniotic fluid and take its first “breath of life” to become a living being in the world. Thinking of the biblical Cain who killed his brother Abel, though Abel did not have children, Cain had many. This means that we are the descendants of Cain and have his blood in our DNA; we are capable of killing our brother. It’s also true, he opined, that God did not create walls. While it is true that there are mountains, rivers and oceans which are natural boundaries, we can learn to cross over these barriers, as we have in being here today at this conference.

Many here are doctors, with PhD’s in many fields. This means that we are all teachers. Teaching can be thought of in two ways: teaching by words, and teaching by actions. It can also be thought of as teaching through school and the teaching that takes place in the family. The father and mother, who give us their genes, also give us basic teaching which is a breath of life to guide us through life’s course.

He said that while he is new to this organization, he can understand why we refer to “Father” and Mother” Moon and would like to receive their “DNA.” He concluded by saying that education would save the future when words and actions match and eliminate hypocrisy. Alluding to the differences among religions, he suggested that God created out of different soils of the world but breathed the same breath of life into all. If misunderstanding happens, love is the only source of unity.

Section 4: The Women’s Movement, Family, and the Youth Movement

Presenter 9: Dr. Lan Young Moon (Korea) spoke on “Women as Peacemakers.” She outlined a history of the Women’s Federation for World Peace, an NGO which has attained, early in its 30-year history, the General Consultative Status level at the United Nations, a status given to only 150 or so NGOs globally that qualify by their international and humanitarian accomplishments and ongoing work.

She highlighted several of the many projects of WFWP, including the sisterhood ceremonies in which women from different cultures, faiths and nations came together across a symbolic bridge to become sisters in heart to heal the world of strife. Another important project was the sisterhood work in the Middle East, where WFWP members brought together women from Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds with women from around the world in a sharing of the heart of healing enmities between all women.

And finally, Dr. Moon spoke passionately of the work of the Federation to help bring about Korea’s reunification, a project dear to the UPF and its founders, with, among other activities, the “1% Love Share Project for North Korea” whereby women from around the world could contribute to the relief of women and families in the northern part of the peninsula.

Presenter 10: Dr. Robert Kittel (USA) spoke on “Raising Patriotic Youth for Nation-Building: A Philippine Model.” He began by saying that because of time limits, he would not elaborate on the Philippine model except to say that he is working with six government agencies to create a viable youth-development strategy for that country. Speaking of our most recent youth organization, the International Association of Youth and Students for Peace, initiated by Mother Moon in 2017, he revealed that it has recently achieved the Special Consultative Status as an NGO at the United Nations. This organization subsumes and completes under one umbrella the family of youth movements developed over dozens of years by the Unification Movement, he said.

He outlined the history of educational efforts of the Unification Movement, from the Freedom Leadership Foundation of the 1970s through the founding of the Unification Theological Seminary, the assumption of the management of the University of Bridgeport, and youth-education projects involving Russian students and Ocean Challenge for Youth. In addition, soccer, martial arts, ballet, a symphony orchestra and a number of spiritual and character-education programs have been started designed to help ground youth in essential spiritual values, centered around the concept of Hyo Jeong or Filial Heart.

Dr. Saemira Pino, Chairwoman of IAAP AlbaniaDr. Saemira Pino, Chairwoman of IAAP AlbaniaPresenter 11: Dr. Saemira Gjipali Pino (Albania) spoke on “The Families of the 21st Century and Universal Values.” She highlighted the family as the source of security which is ultimately reflected in the security of the general society. She suggested that the family is an important current topic of research for sociologists such as herself as well as educators and legislators. She reported that she and the Secretary-General of UPF Albania have collaborated in a sociological study the results of which have been recently published in Albanian under the title of her presentation. It is expected to be published in English as well. Written in the spring of 2021, the study looks at existential problems related to the family as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the question of the family as an institution in existential danger in the modern world, as well as marriage-cohabitation ratios over time and their causes in the first two decades of the 21st century. Then there are pressures of family traditions coming from economic and technological advances, ideology, individualism, and the ideology of equality such as women’s equal status to men.

The UPF is guided by a family ideology. “The founders of UPF, Rev. and Mother Moon, consider the family as the school of love, based on its essence as well as on its ideals,” she said. She closed with a quote from Mother Moon on the relationship between a peaceful home and world peace.

Commentator: Dr. Sunaina Singh (India) began her comments with a story from the Upanishads, India’s historic essential teachings on teacher-student relations which highlighted the woman’s role as peacemaker in the family. She added that women are rightly known as nurturers, a quality much needed in our modern world. Women are also problem solvers. She suggested that women should not feel guilty or lament what they don’t have but celebrate what they do have and their accomplishments.

Dr. Singh celebrated Rev. Moon’s declaration of the Woman’s Era in the 1990s and that Mother Moon has taken up women’s leadership role of protection, nurturing, perseverance, giving and forgiving in the quest for world peace.

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