USA: Inauguration of the IAPD
With the encouragement of Continental Chairman of Family Federation North America Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) and Universal Peace Federation (UPF) collaborated to inaugurate the American chapter of the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD) on January 27 in Chicago.
At the inauguration, which took place during the 22nd Annual True Family Values Banquet, Dr. Michael Jenkins, Co-Chairman of ACLC, presented a brief history of the founding of IAPD that occurred on November 13, 2017 in Seoul, Korea. At that founding, the 400 religious leaders (including 200 Americans) from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Sikh, Jain, and all major faith traditions were called to rise to a higher understanding: that we are all created by the same one God, and that we should work together to strengthen families and to lead the world to peace. These participants were then encouraged to join hands with civic leaders of other communities and nations to implement a new direction for peace, one that seeks to resolve conflict through dialogue and understanding.
Based on this model set forth by Dr. Thomas Walsh, the Chairman of UPF International, and its president Mr. Tom McDevitt, Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, Jr. and Dr. Jenkins were called upon as the co-chairmen of ACLC to encourage the participants to join True Parents’ goal and sign this resolution for reconciliation and understanding. Not only did the 400 religious leaders sign, but also many members of parliament and finally, True Mother signed at the end of the program.
This initiative culminated at the World Africa Summit earlier this month, when Dr. Kim called upon the ACLC Co-Chairmen, Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, Jr. and Dr. Jenkins, to launch the IAPD in America.
Dr. Jenkins’ presentation also highlighted how the tensions between North Korea and the world were so high that the thought of any kind of communication or dialogue, seemed impossible. Drums of war were beating and dangerous proclamations were being made by world leaders declaring that destruction was imminent, even through the use of atomic weapons. However, at this time of great tension, True Parents showed another option to find a way to peace. This option was to bring the religious leaders together at the World Cup Stadium. The 400 religious leaders came together and prayed for the peaceful reunification of Korea.
It was in that light that a miracle occurred. A little more than 40 days after the religious leaders’ prayer in Korea, the athletes of North and South Korea announced that they will be playing as one team in the upcoming Pyeong Chang Olympic Games. Pastors gathered together in Chicago for the inauguration of the IAPD in America were deeply inspired and shouted a proclamation for peace.
Following Dr. Jenkins’ presentation contextualizing the inception of the IAPD in America, Rev. Dr. Stephen Thurston, the Pastor of the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, encouraged everyone to join together in signing the resolution of understanding and peace to become part of the IAPD. “Peace can only come by the move of the spirit. Therefore, we can bring peace in Chicago and throughout the world by joining together with the IAPD and True Parents,” he said.
Imam Mohammed Elahi, the Senior Imam at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborne, Michigan, encouraged all the participants to see the beauty of God working on this day and that we realize that there is only one God and that all people of the board should come together as one to bring peace.
Finally, Pastor Joel Barnaby, Senior Pastor of the Greater Philadelphia Church, read the core contents of the proclamation of the IAPD. Dr. Kim and Dr. Thurston were the first called to sign, and they were followed by Archbishop Stallings, Dr. Jenkins, and other religious leaders in attendance. As they signed, they joined God to bring peace on this earth.