LONG BEACH, Calif. – Over 100 religious leaders from across North America and hundreds of university students gathered at the Grand Event Center in Long Beach for the 2014 Religious Leaders Peace Conference, hosted by the international non-profit organization Heavenly Culture, World Peace and Restoration of Light (HWPL).
The mood of the conference was united and hopeful as religious leaders unanimously signed the HWPL Peace Treaty, a pledge to cease conflict amongst religious groups and establish a relationship to work together for peace. Among those who signed was Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, Director of the Islamic Society of Orange County.
The signing of the peace treaty was inspired by the interfaith student peace march that HWPL organized last January in Mindanao, a region in the Philippines suffering violent religious conflict for 40 years. Through the unity of the youth, high officials of Catholicism and Islam were moved to sign a landmark peace treaty that received international media attention.
The program also featured a guest panel discussion, highlights and video clips of the signing in Mindanao, a time of united prayer for all faiths, and a finale performance of youth and religious leaders singing hand-in-hand for peace.
Speaking at the conference was a guest panel of influential religious leaders including Dr. Uma Mysorekar, president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Mr. Matthew Ball, director of Public Affairs, Northwest Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Imam Shamshi Ali, Former Imam of the Islamic Culture Center of New York and named one of the “most influential religious leaders in New York City” by New York Magazine, and Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism. Joining them were also representatives of different faiths including Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism, Baha’i, Candomble, and more.
Chairman of HWPL Mr. Man Lee delivered the keynote speech. Chairman Lee, 84, who has travelled to 58 countries to advocate his message of peace, has gained momentous support from presidents, religious leaders, and youth organizations around the world, including the presidents of Ethiopia, South Africa, Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. “He is traveling the world to make sure the message of peace is reaching out to everybody. I think he is exceptional and courageous, with a young and strong spirit,” said Imam Shamshi Ali. “Not many people are doing that.”
The conference was a part of Chairman Lee’s 9th World Tour to speak with religious and political leaders.
He most recently arrived from Latin America, where he signed the HWPL Peace Treaty with the leader of the
Inca people and was given the honor of performing the White Rose Peace Ceremony in the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura in Guatemala City, Guatemala. This is a tradition signifying peace that has been performed by the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2001 and the Dalai Lama in 2004.
Many of the leaders that Chairman Lee has met have expressed their commitment to attend and promote HWPL’s upcoming event, the World Alliance of Religions for Peace Summit in Seoul, South Korea. The summit, taking place this fall, is an international conference to gather religious leaders for peace.
“Our deepest hopes, based on the promises recorded in the holy writings of our spiritual traditions, are set on life in a paradise of peace. In order to achieve this, we must be willing to let go of the old things that only serve to divide us, and embrace the will of God for peace,” said Chairman Lee.