Peace Starts With Me Interfaith Celebration

Event Recap with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification

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Photo courtesy of the Women's Federation for World Peace USA

This past summer, the powerful, culturally and spiritually diverse
“Peace Starts With Me” interfaith gathering occurred at the renowned
Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York City. Dr. Hak Ja Han
Moon, keynote speaker and co-founder of the global Family Federation
for World Peace and Unification, along with her late husband, Rev. Sun
Myung Moon, are known worldwide as “True Parents.” The Moons have
worked passionately throughout their lives for over 60 years to
promote world peace. The key to this vision has and continues to be an
ongoing “movement towards reconciliation, coexistence and cooperation
between diverse groups of people, as well as preservation and good
stewardship of the environment.”

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU ) is
comprised of families from around the world striving to establish a
world of peace and unity among all people, races, cultures and
religions, building on the foundation of True Parents vision and
legacy, embodying the ideal of true love as taught in the core
principles and teachings of the Unification Movement, championing
family, peace and unity. By working together with affiliate
organizations, partners in the professional world, and inter-religious
organizations, the FFWPU seeks “to collaborate and find practical ways
to improve humanity’s relationship with the environment, each other,
and improve our understanding….ultimately bringing about a world of
peace and prosperity. Acting on God’s behalf with intentional acts of
love, we can expand the culture of heart in the world.”

Co-sponsored by FFWPU, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), Women’s
Federation for World Peace (WFWP), and the American Clergy Leadership
Conference (ACLC), the program made a call for peace starting with
ourselves and expanding outward into our communities, the nation and
the world.

The event activities began with a breakfast sponsored by the Women’s
Federation for World Peace (WFWP), at the New Yorker Hotel, with an
empowering and inspiring message from speaker, Ambassador Suzan
Johnson Cook. Ambassador Cook holds the title of presidential adviser,
pastor, activist and author, also serving as the U.S.
Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom during the
Obama administration. Cook spoke about her challenging, triumphant and
sometimes difficult road to success and the important role that women
play in domestic and international relations. Ambassador Cook also
spoke about the importance of creating strategic, destiny-based
partnerships/collaborations, living a balanced life and knowing your
life’s purpose.

As the main event began, the stadium at The Garden was filled to
capacity with guests traveling from far and wide, hailing from a wide
variety of national, racial, and religious backgrounds, bringing a
unique beauty to the praise and worship that significantly highlighted
the event. Among the participants were the 2,000 Voice Choir, 200
Praise Dancers, and 600 youth and young adults, all worshipping from
diverse backgrounds.

The program embraced the diversity of its audience from the very
beginning, with Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, Jr., National
Co-Chair of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) and the
emcee of the event, introducing groups and visitors from a variety of
faith groups, churches, organizations, and regions. Archbishop
Stallings then fired up the audience with roaring praise for God.

Pastor Paula White-Cain then continued the theme of “Peace Starts With
reminding those in the audience, “We’re not waiting for change;
we bring change.” She spoke powerfully and eloquently on the nature of
God as our parent who wants to dwell with us and change the world
through us.

FFWPU International Vice President Dr. Ki Hoon Kim highlighted the
importance of unity in America: “Mother Moon pointed out what our
problem is today. More than anything else, we as Americans need God
and True Parents for the sake of God’s nation. We must come together
and build this country, America.”

FFWPU USA President Dr. Michael Balcomb then read proclamations from
elected officials, including the official announcement that starting
in 2017, July 15 is officially “Peace Starts With Me Day ” in the borough
of Brooklyn.

Pastor T.L. Barrett, the Senior Pastor of the Life Center Church of
God in Christ in Chicago, praised the Moons and the impact they have
had on his life personally. “They teach you to embrace your own
religion, embrace others, and live as one family… Heaven is
celebrating the presence of all religions here today.”

With Pastor Barrett’s moving introduction, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, “True
Mother” as she is affectionately called, then took the stage and
shared the keynote message, speaking about the history of God’s
Providence, the world’s dire need for true parents who can guide us to
live as true brothers and sisters, and how America can be a leader in
restoring peace on earth, starting with each of us. She closed with a
hopeful call to action, that if individuals practice true love
everywhere they go, shine their light to the world, and live for the
sake of others, God’s peaceful home on earth is not far away.

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, a member of the New York City Council
and U.S. House of Representatives, quoted words from the late Rev. Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. to highlight the need to live for the sake of
others. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,”
Congresswoman Clarke reminded the audience. She continued, “What
affects anyone directly affects us all indirectly.” She ultimately
encouraged those in the audience to rededicate to the call to start
and create peace on this earth.

Throughout these stirring inspirational messages, the audience
glorified God through music and dance, with powerful performances from
Grammy-award winners Bishop Hezekiah Walker and Yolanda Adams, Shamira
Mighty, and FFWPU’s Apple Heaven United, a conjunction of the original
Apple Heaven band from Korea and Apple Heaven U.S.A. The entire
stadium stood up, clapping, dancing, and singing along as they
proclaimed, “Every praise is to our God” and many more songs of
worship. The variety of musical genres and cultures represented in the
musical performances again displayed the beauty of diverse interfaith
and intercultural oneness before God.

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