"The Family is the School of Peace and Love"
Battery Park Christian Church, April 28, 2015
Members of The Senior Center of Greater Richmond and partnering community church, Battery Park Christian Church (BPCC), a Disciples of Christ denomination, joined with some of UPF-Richmond’s Ambassadors for Peace (AFP) to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Families. The program was hosted at BPCC, Richmond, VA, on Tuesday, April 28, with 20 participants representing: Cameroon, India, Jamaica, Japan, Philippines, and the U.S. The central theme of the program: “The Family is the School of Peace and Love” was established by Mr. Ricardo DeSena, Secretary General, UPF-USA, as this year’s focus on said Day of families.
The United Nations is currently observing several “International Days” for annual commemoration due to their significance in its quest for the peace of humanity. Some are: International Women’s Day; International Youth Day; Global Parents Day; International Day of Peace; and others. Click on link to see a full list: UN International Days
UPF being a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN. It works globally to assist the UN by highlighting the above Days and partnering with other NGO’s to bring to the fore programs and activities to advance the UN’s “Sustainable Development Goals.”
Prior to the start of our program, early arrivals had an hearty discussion on the significance of having healthy families. The reference point was the atrocious behavior being displayed by many youths in their riots in Baltimore, Maryland. The consensus was, though there was public outrage due to ongoing abuse of force by some police in the City, the youths had overplayed their hand in the unwarranted destruction of public property, including a Senior Center.
This conflicted and chaotic environment which is inundating communities across our nation has seriously heightened the need for UPF’s efforts for peace-building.
The two UPF videos that were shown brought to light many tensions around the world but inspired a new hope for humanity through the founders (Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon) vision and concrete activities for lasting peace.
Rev. V. Suarez, Pastor of His Healing Grace Ministries, who met UPF-Richmond over a month ago, did not hesitate to become an Ambassador for Peace (AFP) after realizing the outstanding work being done in his homeland by UPF-Philippines. We were also quite happy to have the participation of Pastor, Rev. Rachel Woodall of BPCC who helped to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all present.
In the PowerPoint presentation given by Rev. F. George Russell, Secretary General of UPF-VA, he stated that UPF takes a God-centered perspective on peace-building. "There is not a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or other, God," he said, "only the God who is Creator of Heaven and Earth, and Parent of humankind, who is absolute and eternal in His love for us all." He quoted Rev. Moon saying: “The family is the essential base for a world of peace and the Kingdom of Heaven.” And, referenced Pope Francis, who said (at an interfaith gathering at the Vatican on ‘Upholding the Traditional Family,’ November, 2014): “It is very important to affirm the family, which remains the essential cell of society.”
Rev. Russell explained that the original ideal of God was to perfect love (filial, conjugal and parental) in the model family of the first human ancestors: Adam and Eve. God would then expand the family of humankind to the ends of the earth, even to fill the universe, over time. Strong emphasis was laid on the value of “filial piety,” a virtue greatly elevated in the Orient. He said: “The heart of attendance to parents by their children, in obedience, trust and love, establishes the basis for good character-building, citizenship, leadership and governance. Failure to practice filial piety becomes a monstrous shame in society. This ultimately reverberates into many woes for society and our world.”
Above, center: Pastor, Rev. V. Suarez (Filipino) of His Healing Grace Ministries, receives Ambassador for Peace Certificate.
“God’s great hope was to see the perfection of filial piety in His son and daughter through the fulfillment of the great Blessings (Gen.1:28). …The three-generational family was the ideal place of God’s settlement where grandparents would be most revered, representing God. They would embody the historical wisdom, exemplary substantial heart and love, and become the vertical anchor of stability for the family.” He gave the example of his own upbringing which was greatly influenced by his grandmother. He had developed a strong bond of heart with her; so much so, that even though he was in England, he had a dream of her the night she passed in Jamaica.
In closing, he enlightened everyone on the many family-centered programs of UPF being carried out by the great network of active Ambassadors for Peace (AFPs) throughout the world, they include the Intercultural Marriage Blessings initiated by Rev. and Mrs. Moon to advance world peace. A Blessing Toast for all the families represented was conducted to the joy and delight of everyone.
Above, left photo: standing; Mr. Omer Kounga (student AFP 2012) organizer of event. Right photo: seated on right; Pastor, Rev. Rachel Woodall, Battery Park Christian Church. Standing, extreme right, Ms. Caroline Comerford, Director of The Senior Center of Greater Richmond.