Introduction to the Universal Peace Federation
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Fifty Thousand Gather to Say Farewell to Dr. Sun Myung Moon
Written by Dr. Michael Balcomb, UPF International
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the international religious leader and founder of the Unification Church and the Universal Peace Federation, was laid to rest on September 15 in a series of moving ceremonies held in the mountainous countryside just outside Seoul that Father Moon loved so much in life. (See also One Family Under God Is Dr. Sun Myung Moon’s Lasting Legacy)
In addition to the 50,000 mourners packed in and around the Cheongshim Peace Stadium, church officials estimated that several millions more participated in the ceremony through live web broadcast and satellite programs in over 100 nations. After a selection of messages of support and condolence received from Korean and world leaders were shown to the mourners on the giant video screens, live coverage began. Father Moon’s body, which had been lying in state for eight days at a small chapel at the nearby Cheon Jeong Goong museum, was reverently led out to the waiting vehicles.
Slowly, the flower-bedecked procession wound its way down the mountainside, through wisps of fog and cloud, to the stadium where the tens of thousands of mourners—women dressed in white and cream and men with dark suits and white ties—were waiting in somber silence. Read full article
The Seonghwa Address was delivered by Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, the Moons' youngest son and the President of the Unification Church. Frequently pausing to wipe away tears, he called on all present to join together to realize his father’s vision of a kingdom of peace. “It is only today that we realize the meaning of his words,” he said. “As he asked us to do, let us offer everything for the ideal world of freedom that God and True Parents envisioned for this earth.”
Lord Tarsem King, a member of the British House of Lords and Patron of UPF in the UK. King, who had welcomed the Moons to Britain and to the Parliament buildings just last year, offered condolences and encouragement. “On the one hand, this is a day of sadness, as we reflect on the loss of a man we all came to know and love,” King said. “But we should also be proud of his life, passion, and conviction. He was always ready to risk his life for the sake of God’s will.” (Full Text of Lord King's Speech)
“I can think of no one who has devoted himself more thoroughly to the promotion of interfaith understanding and cooperation,” King continued. “Long before interfaith had become a mainstream idea, Father Moon had been its champion. He has even called upon the United Nations to take interfaith more seriously and to establish an interfaith council within the United Nations system.”
It’s often said that you really know who your friends are in a time of crisis, and the more than 300 UPF Ambassadors for Peace who made the long journey to Korea to attend the memorial services for Father Moon on September 15 proved that we are more than just friends: we are indeed one family under God. Over a course of three days, the UPF group shared tears, memories, determination, and also plenty of laughter and smiles as we comforted each other and shared testimony as to the many, many ways that this extraordinary man of God had touched all our lives.
Nowhere was this more evident than at the celebratory memorial banquet held after the memorial services Saturday night back in Seoul’s bustling Gangnam district at the Intercontinental Grand Hotel, fittingly located next to the COEX Exhibition Center where just three years ago Dr. Moon launched his best-selling autobiography, 'As a Peace Loving Global Citizen'. Indeed, many of those who came to attend his homegoing service had also been present on that sunny June day in 2009, and there was a sense of reunion in the air.
Father Moon’s impact on interfaith relations was evident from the heartfelt benedictions offered by four representatives from the religious community. Prayers were offered by Bishop Riah al Assal, the immediate past Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, who noted that throughout his diocese, which includes the troubled lands of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, there is an urgent need for reconciliation of the family of Abraham. (Photo: Rt. Rev'd Riah Abu El Assal offering prayers.)
Dr. Hamdi Mohammed Murad, (Photo: Standing to Bishop Riah's Left) the soft-spoken Muslim cleric from Amman, Jordan, co-founder of the Interfaith Coexistence Research Center there, thanked God for his mercy and kindness, specifically for having allowed everyone present to have lived and worked with Father Moon, a man who loved God so much. Other representatives of the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) also in attendance were Dr. Abraham Shalom Haim, Chair of the Council of Oriental and Sephardic Jews in Spain, and the prominent Druze leader and publisher, Sheik Samih Natur from Jerusalem.
“The Druze community has long been in complete support and agreement with the teachings of Father Moon,” said Natur, who just two weeks ago at the most recent MEPI event in Jerusalem unveiled a five-volume encyclopedia of the Druze religion and culture. “We especially appreciate his profound teachings on marriage and family values, and I am proud to say today we will continue to advance his vision in Israel and throughout the region.”