Interfaith Harmony Week Retreat 2013


The World Interfaith Harmony Week Retreat
February 15 - 16, 2013
Location: Won Dharma Center


The Role of Religious Communities at the UN is Changing
Written by Rev. Bud Heckman, Executive Director of Religions for Peace, USA

Immediately following a much ballyhooed, but ultimately failed attempt, to bring the world’s religious leaders to the United Nations in 2000 for a first-of-its-kind engagement between the UN and the world’s religions, called the Millennium Summit, few thought religious communities and the UN would ever find the same footing with one another again. Infighting within and amongst the religious communities and mismanagement of the event by organizers soured already fragile trusts for years to come.

Today, it is a different story. Religious implications in world conflicts have changed the conversation. The role that religious communities – which are older, larger, and arguably better organized than the UN – can play in the delivery of humanitarian services has become unavoidable. Governments are sponsoring conferences, collaborations, and capitalizing major projects for multi-religious cooperation, including, to name a few: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Russia, Jordan, and the US. While it never left, religion has found its way at the UN again.

Speaking of the United Nations’ emerging outlook, Dr. Azza Karam said, “it is not a question of whether you will deal with religion and culture questions, but how you will deal with them.” A Senior Advisor on Culture at the UN Population Fund and Chair of the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Faith Based Organizations, Dr. Karam gave the keynote address at special retreat for dozens of UN officials and religious community leaders, serving as an end cap to World Interfaith Harmony Week. Hosted by Ven. Chung Ohun Lee, Ph.D., Executive Director of UN and Interfaith Affairs of Won Buddhism International, at the new [architecturally recognized (Architectural Digest, August, 2012)] Won Dharma (Retreat) Center on Feb. 15-16, 2013 in Claverack, NY, the gathering is becoming an annual strategy session for UN officials and religious communities leaders interested in moving the two into closer streams of cooperation.

Speaking with 47 years of personal UN experience, former UN Director of Political Affairs and Deputy Director Security Council, Dr. Abdelkader Abbadi, remarked that “the moment is ripe for a new paradigm to take hold. The UN is now acknowledging the value and necessity of dealing with religious communities in a way like never before.”

Dr. Jinheung Byun, Secretary General of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace, said that “the UN has been instrumental in peacekeeping and peacemaking in Korea and with UN assistance, the Korean people turned Korea from a recipient country to a donor country within 60 years. Religious communities now want to develop principled multi-religious partnership with UN, following the example of our success in Korea of cooperation for the common good between religious communities and the government.”


Schedule of the Retreat
Feb. 15(Fri)

International Introductions and Objectives by Ven. Chung Ohun Lee, Ph.D.
Co-President of Religions for Peace International
Executive Director of UN and Interfaith Affairs of Won Buddhism International
-9:00 pm
Keynote Address:
  • Topic: How to Strengthen Partnership between the United Nations & World Religions
    Dr. Azza Karam
    Senior Advisor on Culture at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
    Chair of UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Faith Based Organizations


Feb. 16(Sat)

10:00 am
-12:00 pm
International Interfaith Service for World Peace
In Celebration of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

Welcome address

  • Ven. Chung Ohun Lee, Ph.D.
    Co-President, Religions for Peace-International
    Convener, Third Universal Ethics Summit
    Convener, Third Women Leaders Summit
    Executive Director, Won Dharma Retreat Center
    Chairperson, Won Buddhism of North America and South America
    Convener, First World Visionary Activities Gathering
  • Robin Andrews, Claverack Town Supervisor

Opening remarks

  • Dr. Jinheung Byun, Executive Director of Religions for Peace, Korea
  • Rev. Bud Heckman, Executive Director of Religions for Peace, USA

Keynote Address

  • World Interfaith Harmony for World Peace by Most Rev. Hyginus Kim, S.T.D., D.D, President, Religions for Peace, Korea

The Local and Global Role of the Interfaith Communities

  • Dr. Abdelkader Abbadi
    Former U.N. Director of Political Affairs and Deputy Director Security Council
    Recipient of the Award for advancing international understanding and cooperation in conjunction with former US Secretary of State George Shultz and Bank of America President.

The Role of Religious Education in Interfaith Harmony

  • Dr. Gabriel Moran, Professor Emeritus of New York University

World Religions Messages and Prayers for World Peace

  • Jewish Message:
    Rabbi Roger Ross
    Executive Director of the Rabbinical Seminary International and Board Chair of the International Seminary for Interfaith Study
  • Hindu Message:
    Gadadhara Pandit Dasa
    Hindu Chaplain at Columbia University
  • Buddhist Message:
    Abbott Monshin Paul Naamon
    Abbot of Tendai Buddhist Institute, Canaan, NY and Secretary General of Tendai Buddhism in NA
  • Christian Message:
    Rev. Drew Paton
    St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, Spencertown, New York
  • Islamic Message:
    Imam Shamsi Ali
    Chairman of the Al-Hikmah Mosque in Astoria, Director of Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens
12:00 pm Interfaith Reception and International Foods Luncheon
1:00 pm Interfaith Walking Meditation on Nature Trails


  • Ven. Chung Ohun Lee
  • Dr. Azza Karam
  • Robin Andrews
  • Dr. Jinheung Byun
  • Rev. Bud Heckman
  • Rev. Hyginus Kim
  • Dr. Abdelkader Abbadi
  • Dr. Gabriel Moran
  • Rabbi Roger Ross
  • Gadadhara Pandit Dasa
  • Rev. Monshin Paul Naamon
  • Rev. Drew Paton
  • Imam Shamsi Ali

Contact Us

Won Buddhism UN & Interfaith Office
431 East 57th St. New York, NY 10022 USA
Tel: 212-750-2773 | 

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