The Changing Climate of Religious Youth Leaders in Asia: A Reflection on the 2017 ACRP Youth Peace Camp
The able leadership of Mr. Danhil Anzar Simanjunta, RfP-APIYN Moderator, and the great works of local youth leaders and volunteers have made our 2017 Asian Religious Youth Leaders camp a resounding success. I also extend my deepest gratitude to Rev. Kim Taesung, Director of Seoul Peace Education Center (SPEC), for his valuable support in continuing this program. Having journeyed with you in the past few days, allow me to share with you my own reflections on the 2017 Youth Peace Camp, with theme “Our Earth, Our Responsibility” organized by SPEC, Korean Conference of Religions for Peace and Indonesia Conference of Religions for Peace, held at Sofyan Hotel Betawi, Jakarta, Indonesia on December 12-15, 2017
Since the start of the program, I have observed how you were able to get along with one another. Day by day, radiant smiles beamed on your beautiful faces at the breakfast table, in the meeting room, and at the site of the fieldwork. This is a clear indication that all of you have become close and nourished deep friendship among one another.
The fact that almost 60 young people, who came from different countries in Asia and the Pacific, have become sisters and brothers gives an overwhelming inspiration so worthy to witness, in comparison with peoples who are divided from time to time in various parts of your region. Honestly, the togetherness among APIYN members, which you have achieved, is one of the greatest achievements in this peace camp.
Now, the following are what I have learned in this program.
His Excellency Jusuf Kalla, Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, mentioned at the opening session that all religions are praying for peace, but no peace has been achieved yet. For this reason, he went on saying that, what is important is not a “conference” but an “implementation.” His Excellency Jusuf Kalla, gave us a convincing message: Act! Implement specific actions!
While pointing out that carbon dioxide emission and the operation of industrialized plants are the prominent causes of climate change, Prof. Pablito Baybado, Jr, the keynote speaker and ACRP Associate Secretary General, stressed in his presentation that moral and ethical responsibility is a requisite in responding to climate change. The transformation of person’s “mindset” (a way of thinking) is the key in mitigating the negative impact of climate change. Then he encouraged the participants to use the RfP Resource Guide on Climate Change to deepen their understanding and to design common action in addressing climate change. Prof. Baybado also gave us concrete messages: live simply, and consume less in our daily lives.
Prof. Dr. Din Syamsuddin, ACRP Moderator, emphasized in his speech that at this moment, “how” is more important than “why,” in responding to the issue of climate change because it is not a myth anymore. He numerated some important points for the consideration of the religious youth leaders: 1) To change theological argument because climate change is real; 2) To change people’s mindset; 3) To develop technology, which is environmentally friendly; and, 4) To launch joint efforts with credible partners. Along this line, Prof. Dr. Din challenges to change our understanding of the word environment from an “object” to a “subject” based framework, which is a religious perspective of nature.
Both Prof. Dr. Din and Prof. Baybado converged to common action points challenging the youth leaders: 1) Identify one specific action to carry out; and, 2) moral and ethical responsibility (imperatives) need to be paid attention to by people. Changing people’s mindset is the first thing to do for the protection of the environment, they emphasized.
This was again highlighted during our dialogue-visit at the Catholic Cathedral. During the conversation, I raised a question to the woman who guided us to look around the Cathedral. Her reply was inspirational. She said: the Catholic Church widely shares the pronouncements of Pope Francis on climate change. In accordance with the Pope’s declarations, the members of the Catholic Church try to change their lifestyles or their way of living, such as the decision to avoid using plastic bag, to plant trees, and to turn off parked car’s engine to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide. Her reply did remind me that “outreach” to wider audience and “individual endeavor” in protecting the environment are two important components. In other words, the effort in influencing a wide range of people and effort by an individual are two sides of the same coin. We must bear these points in mind when we implement some actions for climate change. The outcome of the Group Discussions has illustrated these key points.
Our visit to Gema Suchi village was also an unforgettable experience. The village leader told us that they have two important engagements: first, cleaning up Ciliwung River; and, second, preserving the eco-system in the village and its surrounding areas. The two main problems of the villagers are the contamination of the river and frequent flooding. It should be pointed out that the former is a human-made disaster, and the latter is a natural disaster. His words reminded us that we need to distinguish a natural disaster from a human-made one when we engage ourselves with activities combating climate change.
The Asia Pacific Youth Interfaith Network (APIYN) has come out with concrete recommendations to address climate change. In my view these recommendations are summarized by the position of group 5. Group 5 asserted that the “solution begins with you and me” and “start from where you are and move one step forward to change.” These messages spotlight an important basis for responding to climate change issue.
In conclusion, I wish to emphasize that in Asia-Pacific region, there are other pressing problems besides climate change, such as child abuse, human trafficking, discrimination against women, etc. ACRP is committed to contribute in addressing these concerns through multi-religious cooperation, hence its adoption of its “Strategic Action Plan” at its Executive Committee meeting held in Bandung Indonesia in 2015. Among the key players in our organization, the leaders of APIYN are encouraged to play their crucial role in implementing some of the programs and projects contained in this Action Plan. For instance, “planting tees” is one of the specific projects contained in the Action Plan. You, the representative of APIYN, are a powerful source for change and transformation towards a better world, making use of your unlimited imagination, creativity, curiosity and interest, which can empower you and unveil your hidden potential. Those in younger generations like you are truly peace-builders so that we can attain a better Asia-Pacific region. And finally, you are not only the future of ACRP but the future of all inhabitants on Mother Earth.
Rev. Masamichi Kamiya
Senior Advisor to the ACRP Secretary General
Announcement: SG started his blog
It is to inform you that Rev. Nobuhiro Nemoto, the Secretary General of ACRP opened his blog.
The objective of this blog is to share the vision and message of Seceretary General for further promoting dialogue and common actions among people of different faiths for realizing the coexistent world, through the movement of Asian Conference of Religions for Peace/Religions for Peace Asia.
We hope that you visit and enjoy his blog.
Equal dignity of all life/あらゆる命の平等なる尊厳性
SG Message of Condolence: Dr. Mir Nawaz Khan Marwat Passed Away
September 25, 2017
It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing on 21 September 2017 of our Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP/RfP Asia) colleague and beloved friend, Dr. Mir Nawaz Khan Marwat, in Karachi, Pakistan. With his passing, a committed Muslim and courageous, pioneering advocate for peace has left us.
In ACRP, Dr. Mir Nawaz Khan Marwat, provided exemplary leadership as the Honorary President of ACRP as well as the Chairperson of the Religions for Peace (RfP) Pakistan.
Under his leadership, the RfP Pakistan was transformed into the vibrant, action-oriented organization it is today. His depth of devotion and breadth of vision attracted support from many partners.
An internationally recognized Muslim leader protecting human right of ethnic and religious minorities, Dr. Marwat’s use of “deep listening” in dialogue, based upon Islamic values and practices, was highly admired and respected among many religious and political leaders in Pakistan.
A tireless advocate for the peacebuilding roles among diversified ethnicities and religions, Dr. Marwat provided the platform of substantial dialogue in Pakistan to deepen mutual understanding and trust to advance coexistence of peoples with different ethnic and religious backgrounds. He was one of the prominent political leaders and served as the Minister of Ethnic Minority in the government in Pakistan. He always led WCRP and ACRP to address the concrete issues people are facing with in the world.
He dedicated himself in the service of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for long years as an expression of his own Muslim practice and with the conviction that multi-religious cooperation for the common good is a key to advancing genuine peace and harmony. He has also raised many leaders of the coming generations for this very important field.
Dr. Mir Nawaz Khan Marwat’s family, as well as his close colleagues in ACRP as well as IRCP-RfP, remain in our thoughts and prayers during this time of sorrow and mourning. While we miss him greatly, we can also draw strength from Dr. Marwat’s depth of commitment.
Yours in partnership,
Rev. Nobuhiro Nemoto
Asian Conference of Religions for Peace
RfP International-RfP Asia Joint Urgent Appeal: RfP Provides Life-Saving Humanitarian Assistance to Rohingya Refugees
We would like share with you the Joint Urgent Appeal between RfP International and RfP Asia.
Religions for Peace Provides Life-Saving Humanitarian Assistance to Rohingya Refugees.
The south and north Korea religious leaders commits to dialogue and peace
Religious Leaders from north and south Korea have jointly expressed, at the annual Asian Conference of Religions for Peace/Religions for Peace Asia Executive Committee Meeting, their intention of continuing dialogue and peace action in promoting the reunification of the Korean peninsula.
“Peace in Korean peninsula leads to peace in the Asian region as well as the entire world,” says Rev. Nemoto, the newly elected ACRP/RfP Asia Secretary General. It is for this reason that ACRP/RfP Asia is committed to supporting the initiative of the religious leaders from north and south Korea.
ACRP/RfP Asia, as a region-wide interreligious body, has played a key role in providing platforms to enhance bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation and friendship among religious leaders, such as the Korean Conference of Religions for Peace and China Committee on Religion and Peace dialogue, the Religions for Peace Japan and Korean Conference of Religions for Peace dialogue, and the China Committee on Religion and Peace and the Religions for Peace Pakistan among others.
ACRP/RfP Asia applauds the efforts of the north and south Korean religious leaders to establish a joint action plan to ease the increasing tension in the Korean peninsula. ACRP/RfP Asia fully supports the initiative of the north-south Korean religious leaders dialogue.
Dr. Din Syamsuddin, the ACRP/RfP Asia Moderator, called on the north and south Korean religious leaders to engage their governments for a high level talks for peace and unity. “Indonesia will be most willing to host the high level talks, while ACRP/RfP Asia can serve as an instrument in coordinating the meeting,” he said.
Rev. Nemoto, New ACRP Secretary General
Beijing, China. At the annual Executive Committee Meeting, Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP)/Religions for Peace Asia (RfP Asia) announces the election of Rev. Nobuhiro Masahiro Nemoto as the new Secretary General. He will serve the remaining term of office of Rev. Yoshitaka Hatakeyama until the next ACRP/RfP Asia General Assembly, who relinquished his post due to his appointment as the Head of Dharma Center in Mitaka, Tokyo.
Rev. Nemoto is a reverend minister of Rishho Kosei-kai and a board member of WCRP /RfP Japan. He worked at the UNHCR Geneva HQs for 3 years and a member of the governing board of RKK.
As the new Secretary General, Rev. Nemoto envisions ACRP/RfP Asia to revitalize its very reason for its existence. “We exist for the people, to do something for the vulnerable and people who are most in need,” he said.
He takes inspiration in the Singapore ACRP Assembly action where ACRP bravely assisted the refugees, known as the boat people project, to encourage countries to open their doors.
With the support of the Executive Committee, he intends to transform ACRP/RfP Asia into a movement. ACRP/RfP Asia, according to him, should be an organization that “moves people from vulnerability and invisibility to shared development and social harmony.” “We, as ACRP/RfP Asia, should become the way for people to live together in harmony through compassion, love and by sharing with the suffering of the people,” he continued.
In order to achieve this, he emphasized too the cooperation of the various national chapters to embrace the slogan “Action for the People,” indicating his commitment to concretely engage ACRP/ RfP Asia for the well-being, security and welfare of the people and the care and protection of the environment. For him, ACRP/ RfP Asia is a platform for “different faith for common action in realizing peace and justice for all.”
Finally, Rev. Nemoto aims to strengthen the cooperation between ACRP/RfP Asia and RfP International in engaging religious communities and other stake holders to promote peace and harmony in Asia.
ACRP Responds to Environmental Crisis
Beijing, China. Religious leaders have the moral responsibility to respond and combat the environmental crisis. This was the commitment Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP)/Religions for Peace Asia made at the multi-religious leaders Beijing Conference with the theme “Search for Moral and Religious Imperatives in Responding to Environmental Crisis: From Words to Actions” on May 19, 2017.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Yu Hai, director of the Environmental Strategy Division of Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy affiliated with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, presented the Green is Gold program of China and emphasized that “each religion has their own wisdom and best practices in safeguarding the environment.”
Following the call of Ecological civilization by Dr. Yu Hai, Dr. William Vendley, the Secretary General of Religions for Peace International, enjoins ACRP/RfP Asia and the global religious communities to take the environmental turn. The framework of our response is “based on the need of the earth, and not simply the need of China, or any corner of the world in promoting a sustainable earth,” he said.
The ecological crisis calls for a profound personal transformation. “Man is an integral part of the universe. And to achieve harmony between man and nature,” it is ethically imperative that man “live a simpler life,” according to Mr. Zhang Gaocheng, the Vice President of China Taoist Association and Abbot of the Tongbai Temple in Tiantai Mount in Zhejiang Province.
“The youth should enjoy and continue to care the environment,” said Mr. Takashi Hashimoto, vice moderator of the Religions for Peace Asia and Pacific Interfaith Youth Network (APIYN). Through the “clean, pray, and love” and tree planting programs, APIYN continues to engage Asian youth leaders respond to the climate change crisis.
In all these efforts to the environmental crisis, Dr. Lilia Sison, ACRP/RfP Asia Women Coordinator, reminded the “religious communities that their engagement should highlight the spiritual dimension of the environmental protection.” By calling the environmental crisis a moral crisis too, Dr. Din Syamsuddin, ACRP/RfP Asia Moderator, calls on ACRP/RfP Asia to start with the common principle that “nature is sacred,” and together in dialogue and in mutual understanding, developed a shared-theology of establishing an ecological civilization.