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Religious Youth Service

Religious Youth Service Projects


Founded in 1985, the Religious Youth Service is a project devoted to education and peacebuilding among young people of all national, cultural and religious backgrounds. RYS blends substantial work service with cultural and peacebuilding training, in order to equip young people with the tools they need to be positive influences within their communities and in their interaction with other communities.

UPF chapters organize Religious Youth Service projects that offer service-learning opportunities with a special focus on developing personal leadership and peacemaking skills. Through living together and providing altruistic service in a community, participants demonstrate that it is possible for our global human family to come together in peace for our mutual wellbeing.


Past Projects

See More Past Projects


The Youth Seminar on the World’s Religions, the predecessor to RYS, was created based on an idea presented to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 1985 at the First Assembly of the World’s Religions (sponsored by the International Religious Foundation). The first international project took place the following year in the Philippines. RYS has organized hundreds of interfaith service projects in more than 70 nations, with participants from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds. Advisors have included Dr. Huston Smith, widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential figures in religious studies, the distinguished theologian Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios, who promoted many inter-religious dialogue and cooperation projects, and other interfaith leaders.

As a service learning program, RYS brings together youth from different cultures and religions in order to promote mutual understanding and respect and to develop personal leadership and peacebuilding capacities. Participants serve a community in need, visit religious and historic sites, and learn communication and team-building skills.

The Three Pillars of RYS’s Vision

RYS is a tool for young people to live and work together as a community, deepen their faith, share their best qualities, and leave a legacy of a culture of peace, service, and compassion. Through living and providing altruistic service within a community, RYS demonstrates that it is possible for our global human family to live together in peace and co-prosperity.

  • Interfaith and Intercultural Education: Interfaith understanding and cooperation is the foundation for peace. By gaining insight into the principles and values shared by people of diverse religions and cultures, we can learn to respect one another and lend a hand to build a better world. Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
  • Leadership Development: To invest in young people, who are the future of our society, involves giving them the necessary tools — internal and external — to lead and influence others in the challenging years ahead. Our participants meet with leaders who are role models from all walks of life, to understand people of different cultures, races, and ethnic groups. They practice communication skills, gain team-building experience, learn respect for the universal values taught by all religions, and promote community development.
  • Service to Others: By serving people in the community, the ideal of compassion becomes a reality. Altruistic service and living for the sake of others is the foundation for a culture of peace.

Global Outreach

  • Humanitarian Aid: In response to natural and man-made disasters, UPF provides donations and volunteers to help with emergency relief. Immediate and long-term projects include clearing the debris from homes after a tsunami struck in Japan and bringing food and water to stranded survivors and scrubbing the walls and floors of an Islamic school after Thailand was struck by floods. Other activities aided people in Haiti, Pakistan, Russia and India.
  • Sports for Peace: Young people from diverse backgrounds compete as teams in popular sports such as soccer. Coaches focus on respect and sportsmanship to promote personal development and community cohesion.

RYS volunteers — Muslim or Jew, Christian or Hindu, Buddhist or Unificationist or of any other faith — learn there is much to share and much to discover from one another. It is this cooperative inter-faith element that makes RYS distinct from any other social service project. UPF is proud to support the RYS program because young people are the future of our global society, and living for the sake of others is a UPF core principle for good citizenship and lasting peace.


Religious Youth Service Introduction from Universal Peace Federation International

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