Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Several dozen religious and civic leaders were honored last night in Washington for their “exceptional dedication” as peacemakers.

“Crown of Peace” awards were presented at a dinner at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, the highlight of a three-day conference on peace and reconciliation, which ends today at the Washington Plaza Hotel.

To end divisions of pain, suffering and conflict, “one core principle is necessary — the principle of living for the sake of others,” said the Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, chairman of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP).

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the federation, and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, received Crown of Peace awards for their lifelong public service. In his remarks, Rev. Moon said historical divisions are solved when men and women form “God-centered families” and live in harmony with other such families.

“Sooner or later, we have to give what we have to our descendants and leave this world,” said Rev. Moon, who turned 84 this year. “What gift could be more precious than that of completing the family ideal in your family, so as to guarantee eternal peace and happiness to your children? Surely no one who has such an opportunity should hesitate to take up the task of building the peace kingdom on Earth.”

Eliezer Glaubach, a mediator and political leader in Jerusalem, and Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, director of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn, Mich., were honored with Crown of Peace national awards for their efforts to reconcile Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Middle East.

The dinner included a ceremony in which representatives of Judaism, Islam and Christianity exchanged symbols of one another’s faiths as expressions of reconciliation.

The Rev. Walter Fauntroy also received a Crown of Peace award.

Mr. Fauntroy, pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church and former D.C. delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, was honored for his work for civil rights and for economic prosperity for low-income communities.

Jewell Praying Wolf James, a member of the Lummi Indian tribe in Ferndale, Wash., and head of the House of Tears Carvers, was honored as a peacemaker for his work in creating “healing” totem poles “to ease shared grief.”

Mr. James and his craftsmen have carved such a pole to commemorate the September 11 terror attacks and a carving for the peoples of the Middle East.

Nearly 90 other religious, civil, political and educational “ambassadors for peace” were cited for their regional efforts. Members of Congress assisting at the event included Sen. Mark Dayton, Minnesota Democrat, Reps. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland, Christopher B. Cannon of Utah and Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, all Republicans, and Democratic Reps. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Harold E Ford Jr. of Tennessee and Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia.

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