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ILC2020 The Americas Session 4: Religious Leadership Addressing the Critical Challenges of Realizing Peace in the Family, Nation, and World

The Americas—The Interreligious Association for Peace and (IAPD) addressed the topic “Religious Leadership Addressing the Critical Challenges of Realizing Peace in the Family, Nation, and World” as part of UPF’s global problem-solving conference. It was one of nine webinar sessions simultaneously occurring in three time zones (Korea, Japan, Asia-Pacific; Africa, Europe, Middle East; North America, Central America, South America, Caribbean) during the September 11–13 International Leadership Conference. The online program was open to all who registered and was watched by 730 viewers.

The Moderator was Archbishop George A. Stallings, Jr., Senior Pastor of Imani Temple African American Catholic Congregation.

Dr. Tageldin Hamad (Vice President, UPF International, IAPD International Coordinator) has been working with the United Nations for many years. He is UPF’s main representative to the UN and is director of its Office of the UN and International Relations. Dr. Hamad explained that IAPD was built on the foundation of many organizations started by Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon founded IAPD on November 12, 2017, and it has now had 23,000 religious leaders participating in 93 nations. Dr. Hamad spoke of religion as being essential to bring a world of peace, calling people to live together in mutual respect and love in what Reverend and Mrs. Moon call Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community.

Bishop Noel Jones (Senior Pastor, City of Refuge Church, Los Angeles, California), the author of many books, has a congregation of 17,000 and an international TV outreach. He is passionate about the recent Peace Starts with Me rallies. He has a great capacity to make the Word of God real. He stressed that God gives people documents that guide good leaders into good action. Those who follow these leaders can be a benefit to others in example and care. All religions offer teachings and guidance. Religious leaders need to become the conscience of the people. If we truly show that “Peace Starts with Me,” we can defeat every ruler of darkness and bring out the best in others. Father Moon spoke of a sacrificial attitude that will attract others to do good. Bishop Jones thanked God for Mother Moon, who said, “Let’s bring all the leaders of value together and let them talk to each other.”

Archbishop Chrysostomos Celi (Metropolitan, Orthodox Church of the Patristic Calendar for Latin America, Ecuador) is also the current president of the National Council of Freedom and Religious Coexistence. He oversaw the Declaration of “City of Pacific Religious Coexistence” on December 11, 2019. He stressed that an interreligious council at the United Nations, as proposed by Reverend Moon is of paramount importance for world politics. This council would also enhance humanity’s spiritual renewal on the foundation of God’s true love. He praised Mother Moon for initiating the World Clergy Leadership Conference. His final words were that we need to give the best of ourselves, work together, and avoid divisions in order to show the path to a real and true family to restore this world.

Imam Talib Shareef (Imam, Masjid Muhammad Mosque, Washington, DC) said that the Creator is One, Creation is One, and we are One, One Human Family Under G-d. G-d created order and unity and thereby established peace. We need to understand this message of oneness and promote unity. We also need to recognize the diversity in humans, just as each planet has its own orbit; it is beautiful to see the diversity that came from Adam. He observed that the coronavirus is driving us to work together: “You will never reach the garden of paradise unless you have faith, and you will never have faith until you practice loving one another.”

Pastor Alejandra Stamateas (Pastor of Ministry, Presencia de Dios Church, Buenos Aires, Argentina) has degrees in theology and in law. She has written 20 books and worked in 10 countries to help women overcome abuse and violence. She has worked with small communities of women, helping them overcome victimhood and suffering by teaching about the light of God and bringing that light into their partners and their families. These women learn to transform their entire environment with the love of God.

Father Ignatius Dominic-Savio-Cetoute (Roman Catholic Priest, Soufriere Parish, St. Lucia) has degrees in counseling and is passionate about the value of the family. He said faith is important, but it’s not enough to raise a family. Children imitate their parents in learning about life and love. Parents need to spend quality time with their young children. Grandparents are also very valuable. It is in the family of origin that we learn to be peacemakers. Every day when we wake up, we need to think, “How can I be a peacemaker today?”

Imam Qamrul Khanson (Islamic Circle of North America) noted that the pandemic is creating opportunities for realizing peace. His slogan has become “Your vigilance, Your Patience, and your Resolution Will Keep Us All Safe. Let us together reap the success together and trust in the Lord Almighty” In dealing with the divisions in society, he said, we should treat people in the most humanitarian ways to attract dignity and love and to generate a sense of understanding among humans. Every life matters.

The September 11–13 International Leadership Conference was created to engage world leaders and citizens on issues ranging from rebuilding post Covid-19 economies to cooperative peacemaking. Under the rubric of UPF’s signature values of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values, its aim was to address solutions in commerce, health, environment, family, and social issues. “This year has seen dramatic disruptions not only due to the Covid-19 epidemic but in geopolitics, the world economy, the media, religion and all levels of society,” observes UPF Chair Dr. Thomas Walsh. “And yet, while there are reasons to despair, there is tremendous goodwill and desire to act on emerging opportunities and innovations that can relieve suffering around the world.”


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