USA: Women as the Turning Point for Peace: Midwest Launch of the Global Women’s Peace Network
Prepared by WFWP USA
Women’s Federation for World Peace USA (WFWP USA) is continuing to launch the Global Women’s Peace Network (GWPN) in all five regions across the United States by the end of 2019, identifying key founding stakeholders in the community who can ignite the GWPN from the ground up. The fourth regional GWPN launch, representing the Midwest Region of the United States on “Women as the Turning Point for Peace”, took place on Friday, October 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois at the Marriott Chicago O’Hare. Notably Dr. Sun Jin Moon flew in from Korea for the occasion, making her first public speech in the United States in her new role as the Senior Vice President of WFWP International. The room was filled with 120 NGO leaders, women, supportive gentlemen, and young professionals in attendance. In addition to Midwest representation, delegations from Canada, the American Clergy Leadership Conference Women in Ministry, and participants throughout the country joined the event, showing their support for the efforts ahead.
Throughout the morning program, we were graced with Mistress of Ceremonies Fannie Smith, Chicago local and WFWP USA Schools of Africa Coordinator, who continued to both nail the depth of the program content and captivate us with her energy and wit. The day began with a warm welcome to the heartland of the US (representing 15 states) by Kathryn Davis, Midwest Regional Director of WFWP USA and key contributor in bringing this launch to fruition. The auspicious occasion was marked with a proclamation from the Governor of the State of Illinois, JB Pritzker, who proclaimed October 18th as “Global Women’s Day- Peace Starts With Me.” Ruth I. Gudino gave congratulatory remarks on behalf of the Cook County State Attorney’s Office, encouraging us to let our voices be heard and to recognize that peace starts fundamentally with raising our children. Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, the Regional Chairman of Family Federation for World Peace in North America, was especially thrilled to welcome us to his hometown, sharing that Chicago is far more than just the “windy city” but rather “my kind of town.” Importantly, he conveyed how can we bring peace to our world by prioritizing God centered family values as the fundamental building block.
These remarks were followed by the foundational explanation and next steps for the GWPN in the US, as presented by WFWP USA President Angelika Selle. She reinforced that while the GWPN seeks to solve social pressing issues in the areas of women’s leadership, family, and the physical and cultural environment, without spirituality and God we cannot solve any of these issues. “I felt the spirit of god already has touched so many organizations. It is just a matter of coming together and claiming that commonality.”
To build the GWPN from its current pioneer stage, President Selle highlighted upcoming action steps. First was to make the commitment to become stakeholders and agents of change to make the vision a reality. This included signing up as a Global Friend for organizations to solidify their commitment. Education was emphasized as a primary focus to bring about the needed cultural change of consciousness. [WFWP USA has been working to establish education curriculums to use for this end.] After the final regional launch in Washington DC on November 15th, 2019, we will build national and regional committees to begin working on selected projects together. Finally, she highly recommended coming to see WFWP Founder Mother Moon on December 28th, 2019 in New York. CLICK HERE for details. She is the inspiration for a new model of peace, devoting her life to healing the heart of God and humankind through love, service, and sacrifice.
This brought us to the main feature of the morning program, the keynote address by WFWP International Senior Vice President Dr. Sun Jin Moon, who spoke on the topic of “Women as the Turning Point for Peace.” She recalled reading Mother Moon’s Founder’s Address during the inauguration of the GWPN in the US in 2012, and was moved to see the progress and substantial form that has taken place since that time.
During her keynote, Dr. Moon acknowledged how humanity is divided, and how difficult it is to find true love and peace in this world. Despite growing movements emerging to speak out against injustices, we continue to live in a world pained by mass shootings, religious and racial intolerance, violence against women, and are on the path to destroying our planet. To mend this, she affirms that we need to unite now more than ever, and to regain sight of the solutions: to turn our hearts and minds to God, to overcome extreme self-centered materialism and egoism, master our inner power of unconditional love, create balance in the world by bringing women forward out of background and shadows, and to come together as a global family with the understanding that every child is a valued child of God. Her message and presence of love opened hearts in the room, which gave others the space to share throughout the day.
A short break and musical selections by Darrell Wilson, known as the Sax Preacher, gave us the mental reset needed for the incredible panelists to come. Four panelists presented applicable topics based on their areas of expertise, cultural backgrounds, and life experiences.
Dr. Tina D. Pierce, CEO and Founder of WORTH (Working Through Obstacles and Reaching True Heights) presented on “Be the Change: A Story of Transformational Leadership.” She confidently shared about her work empowering transformational leaders who disrupt norms with revolutionary thought and action, moving us in a positive direction. Her enthusiasm to be a change-maker stemmed from her upbringing rooted in her experiences with several religions, allowing her to understand that God’s desire for all of us is to be loving human beings. This propelled her to actively build strong communities where people look out for one another. One of the areas Dr. Pierce continues to address in her community is encouraging people to vote, especially on the issues that affect us all: our environment, families, and our children. Beyond the ballet, she expressed countless ways to engage the community and honor the humanity in others. Dr. Pierce reminded us that everyone has the power to be a catalyst for change.
Panelist Dr. Margarett R. Best, an experienced attorney-at-law, gave an inspirational message on “Women as Catalysts for a Better, More Peaceful World.” Having lost her mother at the age of 11, other close women in her life, including her sister and eventually mother-in-law, took the nurturing disciplinarian position of a mother in her life. Upon her mother-in-love’s passing at the age of 92, she experienced the unifying influence of a mother, as all conflicts in the family immediately dissolved. Additionally, Dr. Best reflected on the impact of women trailblazers such as Mother Moon, Sojourner Truth, Oprah Winfrey, and others.
Christina Christodoulou, Founder and President of Cyprus Association of Prenatal Education, was next to speak about “Young Women as the Driving Force in Securing Peace.” As a mother, teacher, and spiritual counselor, Ms. Christodoulou revolves her life around peace principles of giving and loving others. She sees how world peace has its seeds in young women’s wombs, which is then cultivated in family and schools, and materializes in a person’s character and attitude. Working with young children alongside WFWP in the Middle East for ten years, she witnessed the impact the role play activities on collaboration and acceptance had for the children growing up. She shared that is up to us to advocate for peace education for our children.
The fourth and final panelist, Dr. Cornelia Santos, Professor of Environmental and Indigenous Studies at Bemidiji State University, connected her heritage, profession, and activism for the planet into one palatable, warm, and wise message on “Women as Life Givers for a Healthy Mother Earth.” Dr. Santos teaches both environmental and indigenous studies together, as they naturally fit together. To respond to the urgent situation for our planet, she shared an ancient solution and perspective that speaks to women. She explained how Native women have an ancient role in taking care of mother earth. They carry a deep and sacred relationship with the earth described as ensoulment. Mother earth is referred to in feminine terms, just as water carries attributes of being life-giving and rejuvenating. It is believed that mother earth gave of herself to nurture each one of us. With that deep respect and gratitude we can now be her protectors, and change the scenario for future generations.
Following the lunch break, the afternoon program activities were skillfully led by Mistress of Ceremonies, WFWP USA Newsletter Editor Natascha Phillips. Participants engaged with the panelists in a question and answer session, receiving practical pointers for families, advice for young women and further gaining from their life experiences. Additionally, each table discussed and thoughtfully designed a useful project proposal to positively impact an area of women’s leadership, family, or the environment, to be carried out by GWPN committees.
As an additional networking tool and way to get involved with the GWPN, NGO and organization leaders were invited to sign up as a Global Friend, an initiative of WFWP USA. During the program Kiyomi Schmidt, WFWP USA Outreach Coordinator, officially launched and outlined the details of the agreement. Organizations who would like to work together and commit to fostering peace would receive ongoing promotion of their organization in turn. We are inspired by the response, and look forward to growing this community together with you. CLICK HERE to read more about the Global Friends. Further communications about this will be shared in the coming months.
This presentation was followed by the honoring of four exceptional women leaders who have contributed their lives to the service of others and their communities. Chicago Police Commander Crystal King Smith was awarded a HerStory Award for her 28 years of service. She shared several nuggets of wisdom including to learn from those who have succeeded before you, bring a nurturing spirit with you to see the need and fix it, and to reach back and not only bring someone with you, but push them in front of you. The second HerStory Award recipient Rev. Gwendolyn Appleberry is a Pastor at God’s Gift Ministries. She took it upon herself to see the need in the community, protecting young people, providing safe havens, and nourishing with a hug and love. She shared her incredible story of personally funding meals for 10,000 people a year. CLICK HERE to find out more about our former HerStory Awardees.
Two Special Recognitions were awarded to major contributors to WFWP. Noriko Ogden was awarded for her service as a bookeeper and volunteer with WFWP Chicago since 1995. She shared her secret to success was to commit and not to quit. Motoko Sugiyama, former President of WFWP Japan and former International Vice President in charge of the United Nations, was awarded for her 21 years of service with WFWP. She shared about the process of establishing our ECOSOC status with the United Nations, and highlighted to “think globally, act locally.”
The day ended on a high note with vocalist Diane Kelalu, a call to action, prayer, and toast for peace. Before departing, each participant signed the launch Declaration, becoming founding stakeholders of the Global Women’s Peace Network in the Midwest region and committing to solve pressing social issues and realize a world of peace for generations to come. CLICK HERE to read the full declaration.
View More Photos from this event: CLICK HERE
Quotes from Participants:
The Keynote speaker was outstanding! It was so inspiring being in a room with so many awesome leaders. I also was so very moved by the HerStory Awards and networking with women from all over the world.
The most impactful segment from today was the panel discussions and topics. To hear from such accomplished and inspiring women who are leaders in their own walks of life was eye-opening. I am inspired and motivated after hearing their talks and wisdom to make changes in my own home, life and community.
I enjoyed brainstorming and sharing ideas about ways to care for and protect the environment/ Mother earth. Many of these ideas were unique and inspiring, and I would like to implement them in my own community.
The most significant part was telling us to start somewhere and now, to make a change. Do something to change the world and do it now.
Look forward to reading additional reflections that will be shared in upcoming Logic of Love News Editions!
A well-deserved and special thank you goes to all the volunteers, contributors, WFWP representatives, and staff who gave of their time and resources to make this inauguration happen!! You are the peace-makers!