More than a hundred peace lovers from the public sector, religious, civic society and the youth sector assembled at 4 West 43rd Street, New York, on January 16 for the first of a series of American Leadership Conferences sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation USA (UPF USA). With support from Universal Peace Federation International (UPF International) and affiliated organizations Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) and the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), participants received amazing insights and education on various topics centering on the theme: “America at a Turning Point: Principles and Values for Building a Nation of Peace.”
During the morning session, Dr. Thomas Walsh (UTS’79), president of UPF International, set the tone of the conference with a brief presentation on “Vision for Peace: Universal Principles of Creation,” while Rev. Richard de Sena (UTS’03), president of UPF USA, presented thought-provoking revelations on “The Root Cause of Conflict and Principles of Reconciliation.”
The afternoon session consisted of two panel discussions. The first discussion, which was moderated by Rev. Tom Cutts (UTS’83), national executive director of ACLC, centered on “The Need for Interfaith Cooperation for Sustainable Peace.” The five panelists were Rev. Floyd R. Blair, director of Faith and Community Outreach, Social Justice and Education, Safe Haven United Church of Christ; Imam Shamsi Ali, director, Jamaica Muslim Center; Avathuta H.H. Jagat Guru Dileepji Maharaj, founder and president, World Yoga Community and International Gurukula Community; Mrs. Genie Kagawa, chair, UN NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns; and Swami Parameshananda, United Nations Main Representative, Bharat Sevashram Sangha.
According to Mrs. Kagawa, “One of the best-kept secrets at the United Nations is that more that 80 percent of the NGOs working with the UN are faith-based organizations.”
The second half of the afternoon resonated even more with the participants, especially because it focused on “The Significant Role of the Family and Youth for Peace and Development.” The panelists were Ms. Nadja Wolfe, director of Advocacy, World Youth Alliance; Mr. Ryan Koch, director, NY Office of the Church of Latter-day Saints’ Public and International Affairs; and Mrs. Lynn Walsh (UTS’81), co-chair, UN NGO Committee on the Family, and director, Office of the Family, UPF International. The discussion was moderated by Mame Koni Diop, doctoral research assistant, Montclair State University, Department of Family and Child Studies. Dr. Tony Seyegh, a medical doctor, testified that the discussion awoke in him the desire to do something for the sake of peace. Further, he said, “I pray that the next time we see each other again, I could report to you that I did this and that for this cause,” which truly moved everyone’s heart and spirit.
In conclusion, Rev. de Sena reiterated the desire of the Founder of UPF, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, calling for the renewal of the United Nations to build lasting peace. “World peace can be fully accomplished only when the wisdom and efforts of the world’s religious leaders work cooperatively and respectfully with national leaders.”
Rev. Richard de Sena (UTS '03)
Dr. Thomas Walsh (UTS '79)
Mrs. Lynn Walsh (UTS '81)
Note: Emiljun Rapada is a UTS student in the Master of Arts in Religious Studies / Non-Profit Leadership program.