Dear brothers and sisters,
I hope you had a good Ahn Shi Il. (we have decided we will put the calendar on the fridge door in our kitchen so we can prepare better, the eight day week takes a while getting used to. Here are my reports and thoughts for you over the last week and a half.
Church Leaders Meeting (regional leaders)
Chieko and I had our first meeting with all the regional leaders (local church leaders). It was very good to meet them all and hear from their perspective about our work and the initiatives that they are developing. We only had from 11am – 5pm, but we could discuss a lot of things and listen to each other’s ideas and opinions. Strong impression: need to develop the HQs and local FFWPU and UPF chapter’s relationship. Especially for those beyond London, we should find a way to communicate more regularly. Having been a Londoner since my birth and lived here for most of my life I know how easy it is to become London centric.
Having just got back from Korea it was not easy to go away again just a few days later. But we had planned this Faithlink (EMME- Europe meets middle east) project from a while back, before I got my new mission. This time we were working together with Service for Peace Austria and also Religious Youth Service. Different organisations working together as a team, it makes such a difference to the quality of the program.
It was very good for me to have this internal journey with the participants, and also refreshing to be out of meetings for a bit.
While in Jerusalem, I was considering my experience within the context of my mission back in UK: as we went through the RYS education, developed friendships across many religious and cultural borders, and met with people living in complicated and challenging circumstances my thoughts came back again and again to our work in the UK.
I hope we would all agree on the following: we need to change a lot about ourselves first, and then make changes in the way we live together as Blessed families, and also in how we relate to our society as members of the Universal Peace Federation or FFWPU.
As we embark on the vision of the Global Peace Festival 5 year project which has as its theme: “one family under God”, it could be also the right moment to start to make a lot of basic changes to our own community of Blessed families: have our own ‘internal’ 5 year community project. The Global Peace Festival is a project with a long term goal that we will work towards over five years. It has a rational of building consistency and long term partnerships with others in a framework where we do not jump from direction to direction but work according to a plan of action that allows us to feel more ownership for God’s providence.
We will be much more successful if we see the necessary change as a process of moving forward as a whole community; coming to a point of maturity together through a clear time period. (Getting away from the experience where we are given a direction from outside ourselves to change or perform, but instead starting to develop more strongly that direction from within us.)
None of us welcome change on a superficial level, where we end up having to act symbolically. However genuine and real change requires us all to commit to a long term consistent endeavour. It has to be a plan that we all relate to and feel a part of.
So how about 2012 as a defining point in our life which we all work towards? Five years is a good time frame and would give us an opportunity to bring a real development not only organisationally through UPF, but more fundamentally to our community. The thing about community which ever angle you take it from it comes down to personal life style and personal relationship. That means it comes down to you and me.
The goal of the Global Peace Festival will only be successful if the heart of our movement is healthy. So as much as the UPF will have its long term strategic project, we need our own long term community project. So, anyway, just wanted you to know I am thinking about this. One experience stood out for me on the EMME project when someone who had personally been through very tough and impossible times spoke to those present who are currently going through what feels like a hopeless situation:
During one of our visits to Palestine we were discussing with a youth group about their town. A short talk from one young ambassador for peace, and friend of mine, Johnson, moved me deeply (he is 28, doing a Ph. D. at Northampton University):
“I grew up as an untouchable in Southern India, my home was a shack on the beach, as a small child my mother had to pick me up and move me when the tide came in. At 7,8,9 years old I had to go fishing at sea during the night and still do school in the day. Everyone told me I could never go anywhere in life being outside the cast system. But the bigger the obstacles that came my way, the bigger my determination became. No one ever told me or inspired me to seek something for my future, but I told myself and always believed that I had the capacity to do something greater in my life. Is that not why we believe in God? I can’t understand why many people say they believe in God, but cannot believe in themselves or the possibility of greater capacity. I am not sharing this because I want your sympathy, I don’t need that. I just want to say whatever complicated circumstance we face we do have the capacity to go over those challenges and achieve something great.”
I have not met for a long time someone who had such a razor sharp intellect and also such a generous heart. Definitely an inspirational combination!
Universal Peace Federation HQs
We are currently in the process of restructuring our HQs operations in order to deal with the considerable growth in our UPF work. Especially this involves looking at how we interact more strongly with partner organisations, but also how we develop a professional secretariat that can grow out of our traditional General Affairs office run by David Franklin. Our General Affairs Office covers so many areas and keeps our movements overall operations running smoothly. But, we have reached a point where we have so much outreach going on and such a vast network of contacts and Ambassadors for Peace that we need to rethink things, and ultimately find away to develop our human resources in HQs. At least David F. now has Maniyer Olson and David Freeland as part of his full time staff. Will keep you updated.
So, I will be leaving the country tomorrow to go to Spain for the European Cheon Il Guk leaders meeting, and staying on to help with the workshop that WCARP HQs is running for CARP leaders and national leaders.
I will be back on 6th March and hoping that I will have done my quota of travelling outside the UK for a few months. Chieko and I are planning from March to start visiting all the local FFWPU and UPF chapters. I hope you are can experiencing faith and hope in your week ahead.