THE SIGNIFICANCE OF UDC’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY

“The words that enlighten the soul are more precious than jewels.”

                        ~Hazrat Inayat Khan, qtd. in Science and Spirituality, page 141

[by Rev. Leland Stewart]

It hardly seems possible that fifty years have passed since this organization began during International Cooperation Year 1965.  As it turns out, I believe that I am the only person now active in the Council who has been present since the beginning.  My wife and I were the founders of International Cooperation Council, but she has now passed on, leaving me as the living founder.

With that fact in mind, I feel that it is my special privilege to reflect on these fifty years, both to recall what has taken place that I can share with others, and also to help shape a plan to begin our next fifty years.  This year is a special time in that regard, and different events are shaping up to give that effort some reality.

Our first festival was held at the Reseda Women’s Club in 1965, with our keynote presenters being pianist/comedian Steve Allen and depth psychologist Dr. Ira Progoff.  It was a wonderful beginning, and it became a stimulus to continue on an annual basis.  The first two aspects of our ongoing work were the annual International Cooperation Festival and an annual World Directory of participating organizations and other related groups on a worldwide basis.

The original name of the organization was International Cooperation Council, which was a direct link to the purpose of International Cooperation Year 1965.  We held many outstanding festivals during that time, including one at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, which featured Ruth Carter Stapleton (former President Carter’s sister), Buckminster Fuller, and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D.

In 1979, the Council took on a much too large Festival in Pasadena, which drew most of the well known names in the “new age” movement, but financially it was well beyond our means and caused a complete restructuring of the International Cooperation Council and a change of name to Unity-and-Diversity World Council.  The Council’s work has continued from then till the present, and gradually a number of other dimensions of the work have begun, such as the monthly Interfaith Celebrations, regular interfaith type services on Sunday mornings, and more recently the Culture of Peace Educational Series.

At various times during these fifty years, based upon the Unity-and-Diversity Wheel, convergences have been held to provide a way for individuals, groups, and networks that were not well acquainted with each other to move together and explore areas of common ground.  The Wheel has evolved during that time, and in 2012 it was converted into a Peace Wheel, and its use during the annual event called Peace Sunday resulted in the holding of a year’s worth of meetings comprising a Culture of Peace Series.

This year, as the climax of four years of preparing for our 50th anniversary, we are holding a special Peace Sunday at the Agape International Spiritual Center, which has an average attendance of 2,000 to 2,500 each Sunday during three services starting at 6:30 a.m. and continuing till about 1:15 p.m.  UDC will have a small part to play in each of the three services, plus a smaller meeting in the afternoon (2:30-4 p.m.) to add more to its own Peace Sunday.  Included will be displays of artwork, essays, and poetry from a number of schools in the Southern California area, for which awards will also be given.

An additional element to this year’s celebration, there will be a United Peoples Convergence at the IMAN Cultural Center on Saturday, September 19th, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Networks of groups and individuals will meet separately in the morning, then after lunch they will converge into a General Assembly, which is being designed to be an ongoing effort from that point on.  UDC had held General Assembly sessions in the past but on a smaller basis.  If this effort works according to plan, it will be a real boost to the idea of United Peoples as a form of direct democracy.

You are cordially invited to participate in one or both of these related events as a way of supporting UDC’s 50th anniversary and thereby strengthening our interfaith and intergroup cooperation.

 

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

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PEACE SUNDAY FESTIVAL 2014

 

peace sunday

The annual Peace Sunday, this year being called “Peace Sunday Festival”, is scheduled for September 21st, just four weeks from today.  It will be held at the IMAN Cultural Center, 3376 Motor Ave., Los Angeles 90034.  This year’s theme will be “Every human being has a right to peace”.   Please note that the United Nations International Day of Peace is on Sunday this year, and it is the same day as our Peace Sunday Festival.  The website is www.peacesunday.org  For information call 424-228-2087, 310-396-8205, or 310-200-3598.  The email is udcworld@gmail.com.

Peace Sunday Festival 2014 is convened by the Unity-and-Diversity World Council, and there are twenty sponsoring organizations.  Sponsors are responsible to help plan the event, and this year’s Steering Committee is a most outstanding one.  We also have co-sponsors, who help publicize the event.  So far there are about twenty-five co-sponsors, and that number will considerably increase between now and the event.

Now is a most unstable and violent time in the world, which gives every reason for having a Peace Sunday Festival.  This year’s event will not only present an outstanding program, but several new features will be part of it.  First of all, we will have several different youth activities: a schools project focused on “What is Peace?”, which includes essays, poetry, and artwork, led by Diane Burton and Ron Klemp.  There will be 20’x20’ booth with youth activities, led by Barbara Tebyani.  Gayle Gale will have a booth to develop her “Kids for Peace”.  Diane Tillman of the Brahma Kumaris will have a session during the afternoon program for youth focused on “Living Values”.

The trailer of “Beyond Right and Wrong” will be shown, which is a popular film helping to reconcile victims and perpetrators from acts of violence.  Conflicts in various parts of the world could learn much about how to reconcile their difficulties from the teachings in this film.

Peace Sunday will likewise focus on action following up on this event.  Three areas of action are being included: (1) Preparing for the 2015 Peace Sunday Festival celebrating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations and the 50th anniversary of Unity-and-Diversity World Council.  (2) Beginning a second year of the Culture of Peace Series.  (3)  Forming an ongoing body of organizations and individuals similar to the Security Council of the United Nations, which will take action on specific areas of need as are within our possibility of making a positive difference in our communities and/or the world.

There will be tables and booths in the IMAN Center parking lot throughout the day by various participating organizations.  An interfaith service will be held from 10 a.m. till noon, ending with participation in a worldwide one-minute meditation.  After lunch the program will be held from 2-5 p.m.  It will feature spiritually and politically involved Marianne Williamson as a keynote speaker, songs from the International Peace Choir, musician Yuval Ron and fellow musicians, singer/songwriter Stephen L. Fiske, and the World Peace Prayer and Flag Ceremony.  A second keynote speaker and a surprise element are being planned.

On Saturday, September 20th, 6-9 p.m., there will be a Recognition Celebration concluding the first Peace Convergence and the monthly Culture of Peace Series.  Honored will be the sector facilitators from the Convergence, the presenters from the Culture of Peace Series, and the people who attended the majority of the monthly Series.

The evening will begin with a potluck supper at 6 p.m. in the small auditorium at the IMAN Center.

About two weeks after the Peace Sunday Festival the special meeting will be held to begin the ongoing body of organizations and individuals who choose to form a “Security Council” to take cooperative actions as needed during the coming year.

 

May peace prevail on earth!!!

ORDINATION AND THE WORK OF OUR MINISTRY

“Humanity must progress as a whole. Unity in variety, not uniformity, is the pattern for world culture. There is no inherent conflict between science and religion, between reason and faith, or between poetry and philosophy.”
-Vedanta (Swami Vivekananda), Science and Spirituality, p. 193

On Saturday, May 31st, an ordination took place at Stephen Fiske’s garden in Venice, California. The person ordained was Nathan Michon, who has an impressive background of study in the field of religion, where he has also on occasion been a teacher. He has traveled and studied in several parts of the world, including Japan, Taiwan, and various parts of the United States. Several of his friends came to support him in his ordination, as well as four interfaith ministers ordained through the Unity-and-Diversity World Fellowship. The Fellowship is a specialized affiliate of Unity-and-Diversity World Council, Inc. Nathan is especially involved in Buddhism, but he has also studied and taught about many of the other religions.

The UDC has several specialized affiliates that are related to this process. We have a UDC School for Interfaith Ministry and a Unity-and-Diversity Ministers’ Association, as well as the Unity-and-Diversity World Fellowship. The School trains ministers through the study of all religions, science and religion, and various aspects of the practical ministry. The Ministers’ Association now meets quarterly and is updating the ministry curriculum and is setting up a website for exchange among the ministers, including the setting up of this blog. The Fellowship handles ordinations, as well as the setting up of interfaith services. The interfaith Sunday a.m. “services” now very active are called Gatherings of Creative Community. Kindly contact UDC for interest in the ministry or the activities mentioned above.

Since 1975 the Fellowship has ordained thirty-six interfaith ministers. A number of these ministers are still quite active, and the last few years have seen an increasing involvement in the related activities. Interfaith has a very important purpose in the world at large, and there are many levels of interfaith collaboration. What has been missing until fairly recently is the recognition that interfaith is also a path, a path that welcomes participation of people of all paths. It is a place of synthesis, of the dynamic integration of diversity. People of the various religions of the world are welcome, as are those who are not identified with any single religion. Agnostics and atheists who are open to the diversities of understanding are also welcome.

Unity-and-diversity ministry is futuristic. It is in the process of being established, and it has a special work to do that until recently was seldom seen. It requires an openness to the diversities of the teachings of the historic religions and to the many more recent religions and spiritual movements. It is in search for creative ways of expressing this new found freedom. It also has an urgent work to do in the world as a whole, going beyond violence as a way of solving problems to the use of nonviolence, diplomacy, and the sacred art of listening. A new day is being born on planet earth, a long awaited time when people are beginning to trust each other and to live together in peace and goodwill.

How will you participate? What is it that you have to contribute to this ongoing process? Please let us hear from you and see how we can work together for the well-being of all!

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!