The Words of the Stone Family
Sydney, Australia -- An International Leadership Conference on the theme "Consultation for Peace and Security in the Pacific" was held in Sydney, Australia, June 15 to 17. The purpose of this special conference was to discuss and reflect on the ways in which UPF can provide leadership and vision to address the critical issues currently facing nations in the Oceania region.
The 66 participants in the conference came from Australia, New Zealand and several Pacific island nations. They included representatives from government, religion, academia, and civil society. Distinguished leaders from Pacific nations included Sir Allan Kemakesa, Speaker of the House of Parliament in the Solomon Islands; Hon. Kessai Note, current senator and former President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands; Senator Joel Toribiong from the Republic of Palau; Ati George Sokamanu, first President of Vanuatu; Rev. Samaauga Motu, Secretary General of the Samoa Council of Churches, Rev. Robert McKay, Priest of the Maori Anglican Church in New Zealand; Iso Nhanken Salvador Iriate, Paramount Chief in the Federated States of Micronesia; and Dr. Berhan Ahmed, Chair of the African Think Tank in Melbourne, Australia.
The entire conference was held at the UPF-Oceania Peace Embassy, a beautiful heritage building donated to the region by UPF Founders, Father and Mother Sun Myung Moon. The program went from Friday through Sunday. At the opening banquet on Friday evening, June 15, following the welcome to country by Australian Aboriginal elder Reg Blow, the delegates heard visionary welcoming remarks from Oceania Chairman, Dr. Dong Woo Kim, and UPF International President, Dr. Thomas Walsh. Sir Allan Kemakesa and Former President Kessai Note responded on behalf of the delegates. This was followed by a remarkable classical piano recital from award-winning pianist Reomi Mita.
In the first session on Saturday, Dr. Walsh gave an extemporaneous overview of the amazing work of UPF worldwide and the vision of Father Moon to bring world peace by addressing current world problems in a practical way. This was followed by a review, presented by UPF-Oceania Secretary General Greg Stone, of the many activities of UPF in Oceania over the past decade. Dr Dong Woo Kim went on to explain in detail about the Saemaul Undong (New Village Movement) projects being carried out in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Saemaul Undong is a movement that originated in Korea around 40 years ago and promoted successful cooperation between the government and local rural communities to bring about the development of infrastructure and economy. With its "can-do" spirit, it played a major role in the miraculous development witnessed in Korea following the devastation of the Korean War. This presentation was particularly inspiring for the participants as they could see how the Saemaul Undong principles of "diligence, self-sufficiency, and co-operation" could be applied to great effect in developing nations in Oceania and also in specific settings in Australia and New Zealand.
In the session on the "Abel UN" and the Asia Pacific Era: Prospects for Regional Alliances, Dr. Walsh and Dr. Kim introduced Father Moon's idea of an "Abel UN" and his recommendation for the island nations of the Pacific as well as nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Japan to enter into an agreement as one body to sustain peace throughout the Pacific Rim sphere. This session was organized as a panel discussion with panelists Sir Allan Kemakeza, Hon. Kessai Note, Ati George Sokamanu, and Warren Umetaro. The heads and former heads of government brought an amazing wealth of experience to the matters under discussion.
The session on the theme of the Significance of Marriage, Family and the Blessing was opened by Hon. David Clarke, Member of the New South Wales Parliament. He enthusiastically endorsed the work of UPF as he welcomed all the participants to Sydney on behalf of the State Government. Thought-provoking presentations were then given by Mr. Michael Treacy, former UPF leader in Micronesia, and Mrs. Tracy DeGeer, President of Women's Federation for World Peace-Australia. The session was particularly stimulating, attracting many questions and comments from the audience. The session concluded with a presentation by Greg Stone about the World Congress of Families that will take place in Sydney May 15-18, 2013. This premier event in the world promoting the natural family is supported by UPF, and participants were urged to promote the Congress and send delegations from their nations.
Saturday evening was a Family Night of entertainment with Rick McInerheney and Mica Camara as co-emcees. The Oceania Youth Choir got things off to a great start and others, including many of the participants, contributed. It was a appropriate way to relax and to top off a very stimulating and full day of presentations.
On Sunday, a session on Father Moon's life proved to be very moving. Quotes from Father Moon's autobiography were read and rich testimonies from several of the participants were heard. Iso Nhanken Salvador Iriate from Micronesia testified to his deep respect for Father Moon as a universal parent figure and one with a profound providential calling from God. Senator Joel Toribiong from Palau also spoke of his long years of association with Father Moon's organizations and his deep admiration for his extensive work for world peace.
At the close, Ambassadors for Peace Reg Blow and Mary Riek from Melbourne and Rev. Robert McKay from New Zealand expressed their thanks on behalf of the participants. All felt blessed to have been able to come together and participate in such an inspiring and fruitful conference in Oceania, pointing the way for expanding and developing the work of UPF in the Oceania region for the sake of peace and security in this region and around the world.