Youth Bring Interfaith Dialogue to Washington, D.C.
By FFWPU USA: Twenty-three future leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., from July 12 to 15, 2015, to take part in a Religious Youth Service (RYS) program. RYS is a project of the Universal Peace Federation, which encourages youth to get involved in interfaith dialogue and service work for peace. The RYS participants came from as far away as Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., to attend the four-day event. The time was full of educational and inspiring experiences, as well as a chance to put some of those ideals into practice through service work in the community.
After a day of exploring Washington, D.C., and its many sights, the participants began the next day with presentations given by different faith leaders. The interfaith education component is a huge part of what RYS does. The day began with an RYS tradition of a candle lighting ceremony in which each participant reads a quote dedicated to the cause of world peace and understanding. The quotes read by the participants came from Mother Teresa, Saint Francis of Assisi, the Dalai Lama, and Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The participants then heard presentations from representatives of Judaism, Christianity, Native American religions, Islam, Unificationism, Hinduism and Buddhism. These presentations offered valuable insights into unique cultures and practices, while also highlighting the similarities that many shared of seeking a world of peace, honoring and serving others, and compassion for the earth and its creatures.
In the afternoon, participants visited three houses of worship: the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States; the historic Sixth & I [Street] Synagogue; and the Islamic Center during evening prayers. Participants enjoyed seeing the different places of worship and especially witnessing people of faith in their traditional dress and worship practices. The evening was a time to meet together with their teams and reflect on the day. Read More