Religions united to pray for peace

and care for one another in the pandemic crisis

While national measures limiting social activities bring out changes of daily routine due to the pandemic, efforts to understand spiritually about life facing diseases and related social changes are underway across religion.

On December 14, 560 representatives from 31 religions in 80 countries including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism and Sikhism joined in an online gathering named “HWPL End-of-year Religious Leaders’ Gathering: United Hopes & Prayers for a Brighter 2021” to express words of consolation to humanity and reaffirm inter-religious commitment to dialogue for peace.

11 religious leaders representing different religions prayed for wisdom and solution to the multifarious life patterns affected by the current COVID-19 crisis. The video messages from religious leaders displayed their support for the role of religion in countering anti-peace movements such as discrimination, hatred and violence that can be exacerbated during the pandemic.

During the prayer, Rev. Acharya Prem Shankaranand Tirth, Hindu High Priest of Shree Geeta Ashram of Delhi, said, “For our colleagues, families of peace, let us continue endeavor of world peace. During this pandemic, we must realize the value of one another in that we all coexist with the nature and other creations. We in the human society must act as one and should exist in peace, harmony and love.”

“I remember sitting at my desk and finding out about the first infection in my own country. I prayed, asking a lot of questions. Many of my peers turned back to scripture in these times to seek answers about the Creator God, His plan, His will and what He wants us to focus on due to these events,” said Ms. Nandi Bester, manager of International Peace Youth Group in South Africa.

“Today we may be able to solve the problem of COVID-19, but another disease might come. When winter is coming, we can’t stop it but can cover and protect ourselves. That’s what we can do when a challenging issue of bad health and adversities come in life. We should maintain patience and learn the art of tolerance to endure the difficulty and suffering that is coming upon us,” said Rev. Hare Krsna Das, Priest of ISKCON, Rishikesh, India.

“Regarding the question about how human society should understand why suffering such as COVID-19 occurs, we found that all religions are searching for an answer. In the process, those participating in this event, transcending time difference, pray for the safety of all regardless of their faiths. This is the clear difference from the time before the pandemic when news of conflict was filled with intolerance against groups from different backgrounds. In this respect, it has proved the possibility that humanity in a crisis can be united and one in peace beyond religion,” said a HWPL official.

The organizer HWPL is an NGO affiliated with the UN ECOSOC and had led national plasma donation from over 3,700 people in South Korea who recovered from COVID-19 to develop a cure throughout this year.

Inter-continental Conference for Culture of Peace through Education Will Be Held Online

An inter-continental online peace conference will be held on January 24, 2021, in attendance with about 2,000 participants from 17 countries, including the Philippines, India, Australia, and South Korea.

The host of this conference is a Korea-based international peace NGO, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) affiliated with the UN DGC and the UN ECOSOC.

This virtual peace conference is organized in commemoration of the 7th Anniversary of the January 24 HWPL Peace Day which was designated by the Province of Maguindanao in the Philippines to celebrate the peace agreement in Mindanao on January 24, 2014.

The agreement was suggested by Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL and signed by government, religious and civil society leaders to engage in collaboration of peacebuilding efforts to end the decades-long conflict.

Since then, annual commemorative events such as a grand peace festival, international peace walks, exhibitions of peace in local museums, and inter-faith conferences have taken place to celebrate the peace agreement and raise awareness of peace among citizens in the region.

The event has discussed the history, current issues, and plans for long-term peace in Mindanao as a set of peacebuilding models based on the cooperation of actors in different fields with events that raised awareness of the need for securing sustainable peace.

With the theme of “The Role of Peace Education in Building a Peaceful World”, this year’s celebration, in line with the International Day of Education, aims to establish a global platform for peace educators to implement peace education in the educational system of each country.

Although the event is open online this year due to the COVID-19, more than 2,000 participants, including politicians, religious leaders, social figures, and educators are expected to attend.

The inter-continental conference will include the graduation of peace education students, the peace pledge ceremony, and various addresses regarding the value of peace education.

An official of HWPL said, “Through the 7th Anniversary of the January 24 HWPL Peace Day, we aim to raise awareness of the importance of peace education and culture of peace. It will be an opportunity to revitalize people around the world who are currently experiencing various violence and conflicts, especially since the onset of COVID 19, with a hope and spirit of peace.”

Anyone interested in the event can join by signing up at until the 23rd of January. The event will be live-streamed through from 3:00 PM (Manila Time) on the day of the event.

Peace Education for Peaceful Laguna:

Orientation Program and Workshop for DepEd Teachers in Pila District

PILA, LAGUNA—On January 8, 2021, 431 teachers from 16 schools from the Department of Education (DepEd) Division of Laguna-Pila District joined in the virtual Peace Education Orientation Program and Workshop.

The program was provided by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an international non-governmental organization headquartered in South Korea. HWPL drafted 12 Peace Education Lessons applicable to the educational system of many countries, including the Philippines.

With the theme, “Raising Peace Educators for Peaceful Laguna,” this program aimed to equip teachers with the 12 Peace Education Lessons and enrich the contents of Peace Education Modules for each educational level to best reflect the characteristics of educational institutions.

“In the past, we only saw that our school is a zone of peace, but the question is how. How come our school has become a zone of peace?” said Dr. Marites A. Ibañez, Schools Division Superintendent of DepEd Laguna Region IV-A, in the Inspirational Message. She also stressed the instructive value of peace education that affects not only the learners but also the parents, teachers, and other members of the community.

After the Inspirational Message, the students who participated in the peace education program presented a performance singing “We Are the World” and “Heal the World” through the virtual meeting screen.

In the morning session, an overview of the 12 Peace Education Lessons and the standard lesson plan was introduced.

During the workshop, the teachers wrote lesson plans following the guidelines to modify the instructional materials better for the students. The developed instructional materials will be used in the pilot testing for schools in Region IV – A which will start in Pila, Laguna.

In order to reach more learners during the pandemic, DepEd continues to conduct educational projects including peace education through more flexible and more accessible learning modalities. For this, Dr. Florentina C. Rancap, Public Schools District Supervisor (PSDS) of DepEd Division of Laguna – Pila District, shared their plan to air weekly lessons in a local FM radio station named Radio Pinagpala (Blessed Radio) starting on January 19.

“I was challenged to integrate peace education not only for a single grade level, but in all levels from Kindergarten to Grade 12,” she added.

Since 2016, HWPL has established a partnership with 72 schools and educational institutions in the Philippines including the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for the integration of peace education. Before this workshop, HWPL conducted 2 workshops for 62 schools and pilot testing for 8 schools mostly in Cotabato City last November 2019 and January 2020.

HWPL will be holding another workshop and orientation program for 2 state universities and colleges (SUCs) under CHED Region V on January 14-15 and for 71 SUCs under CHED Region II on January 22.