Austria: “Peace Starts with Me” Festival
True Mother in Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria
A brief report from the International HQ
By Julian Gray
The program began with the joint MCs’ very warm (and bilingual – German and English) welcome to everyone from the many parts of the world from which they had come. They noted that, among others, a delegation from Japan that included several members of the Japanese Diet, and the participants of the international leaders’ conference organized by UPF, were present in the audience.
The Longfield Gospel Choir kicked off the program with several energetic and beautifully arranged Gospel numbers, including Every Praise Is to Our God, which featured a group of equally energetic second generation dancers that one suspects may have been the same young men and women publicizing the event in the streets of Vienna.
Austria FFWPU national leader Elisabeth Cook and Europe FFWPU regional chair Michael Balcomb introduced the goals and purpose of the festival. Dr. Balcomb said that if 10,000 people were to say “Peace Starts with Me” that would make an impact. He asked everyone to stand up and tell 5 other people that “Peace Starts with Me.” Expressing his belief that just as men and women have dreamed of peace, God has also been dreaming of peace; just as when spring comes it cannot be stopped by man, so it is with the coming of the era of peace – the history of darkness is about to end and the history of peace is about to begin.
The Hungarian shadow dance group, Attraction, then took the stage. The eight dancers performed behind a special screen and created beautiful images formed by their own shadows. Then came Spark, an energetic modern ballet that featured some of our most talented second generation members.
The opening prayer was a touching Christian invocation of God’s spirit by a Catholic Priest who came to the podium with a young lady who then sang her prayer in Aramaic.
A musical dedication featured our own diva Seiko Lee, who sang a classical piece by Johann Strauss (himself a native of Vienna) first by herself, and then in a beautiful duet with Mr. Kastriot Tusha from Albania.
A brief but poignant video was then screened; it gathered together some of the young voices explaining what “Peace Starts with Me” meant for them personally. The MCs then asked the audience members to take a minute or two to explain their own thoughts and feelings on peace to each other. A second video presentation that followed, which briefly introduced both Father and Mother’s global work for peace, was short and to the point.
Then former Austria defense minister Dr. Werner Fasslabend came out and personally introduced Mother as the keynote speaker. Referring to his long experience in public office he expressed that, while it is relatively easy to disturb peace, restoring and keeping peace is a very tough and time-consuming challenge. He concluded that the task of bringing peace is not just in the realm of religion, politics or the military, but that we must contribute to it ourselves. “Peace is me, Peace is all of us,” he said to applause. He referred to the teachings of “the late, great Dr. Moon, and his wife” that before anything, we must master ourselves, because we must first have inner peace as the basis for convincing others to create peace among themselves, in society and thus in the world.
After Dr. Fasslabend had spoken briefly about Mother’s life, including her marriage to True Father and the fact that she had 14 children and more than 40 grandchildren, Mother came out to the podium accompanied by Sun-jin nim. Dr. Fasslabend then stood with her for a moment, and welcomed Mother warmly to “this city of music and peace,” offering Mother his best wishes for the future of her work.
Mother then spoke. She welcomed everyone, and thanked religious leaders, ambassadors for peace and members for coming. She particularly mentioned those who had travelled from Moscow by bus on a 30-hour journey and welcomed a group of important religious leaders from Africa.
[Mother’s speech will surely be prepared and published within a short time in various languages, but in the meantime we offer the following incomplete summary:]
We are thinking about how can we live in a peaceful and happy world… This continent of Europe was prepared by God. After going to the cross, Jesus Christ said he would come again. Christians waited for the coming Messiah, and Christianity’s early days were characterized by terrible persecution.
Mother spoke of how Christianity had moved from the Italian peninsula, to Britain. But the resulting Western civilization had not been a movement to give true love but rather to take from other nations.
Mother expressed that we have to know what kind of being God is; only through this can we solve the problems we face. We must understand that God gave people responsibility. Mother outlined the beginnings of human history, referring to the Fall of Adam and Eve and the course God had walked to bring the Messiah to earth – and yet how Jesus had had to go the path of the cross.
Mother mentioned that Christianity had the responsibility to know and prepare for what to do when the Messiah returns, and outlined the course of preparation for the Second Advent and the preparation of the only begotten daughter as the bride. Mother explained how God had brought her to South Korea before the start of the Korean War to protect her and allow her time to mature.
She explained that though True Parents were blessed in marriage the Christian world still could not understand. Even so, many blessed families have arisen throughout the world.
Mother referred to the 50-year history of the providence in Europe, and the many difficulties the continent has faced, not least the emergence of Communism within the Christian realm. Mother referred to our early missionary members working underground in the communist bloc and the challenges they faced including arrest, torture and even martyrdom. But knowing the desperate heart of God they walked their path with unchanging faith.
In the past Christianity developed in Europe, but Christians did not know the essence of Jesus. Through True Parents we can know that God is our Heavenly Parent, and the blood, sweat and tears that He shed to restore humankind. Many blessed 2nd gen members born from blessed families are here and it is time for them to fulfill their responsibility. Mother then expressed that she hopes everyone can become heavenly tribal messiahs who bless all of their tribes, and that blessed families are working even beyond the level of tribe to nations and the world. Through True Parents the path has been opened and we can live centered on True Love. This is the Pacific Rim era, and the time of filial attendance centering on heaven, a time to uphold the culture of living for the sake of others and the culture of true love by living as one human family.
Mother acknowledged that our 2 and 3 generation members are working actively for peace in the world, and said that such a way is the only way for humanity to realize a true world of peace. Today there are 7.5 people in the world. They are living at the same time of True Parents but how great their pain will be if they leave this word without knowing True Parents. Mother concluded her speech by encouraging everyone to become successful messiahs to their tribes and nations and to become shining lights in Europe.
A group of beautiful young children (perhaps from our 3rd generation) then offered bouquets of flowers, one by one, to True Mother. Two tribute messages were read. One was from the president and deputy president of the Association for the Promotion of Peace, which bestows the Flame of Peace award. The other was a declaration, offered by the 300 hundred ambassadors for peace who had gathered under UPF, of their commitment to overcome the barriers to peace.
Entertainment followed, with musical offerings by Seiko Lee, then Serbian pop star Nevena Bošović and culminating with Gospel music from renowned American Gospel artist Yolanda Adams.