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As part of a week-long visit with interfaith partners in Japan, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President Peter Morales spoke during the annual "Founding Day" event for Rissho Kosei-kai (RKK) on March 4, 2012. RKK is a lay-Buddhist movement with approximately 6 million members in Japan and around the world.
The UUA's relationship with RKK began with a meeting between RKK's Founder—Rev. Nikkyo Niwano—and the first President of the UUA, Rev. Dana Greeley in 1968. They found that they shared a great deal in terms of hopes and dreams for the global interfaith community. And, together, Greeley and Niwano forged the paths of interfaith collaboration for the sake of world peace. That work—as well as the UUA/RKK relationship—continues today.
Rissho Kosei-kai generously simulcast Rev. Morales's speech during the anniversary event for the benefit of Unitarian Universalists (UUs) in the United States. We thank them for providing this recording of Rev. Morales' speech.
SPEAKER 1: [SPEAKING JAPANESE]
REV. PETER MORALES: It is a great honor to be with you today on the occasion of the celebration of Founding Day. I bring warm greetings on behalf of more than 1,000 congregations. And I would also add the personal best wishes of my colleagues at our headquarters in Boston.
REV. PETER MORALES: What a joy it is to mark more than 40 years of cooperation and fellowship between our two movements. As you know founder, Nikkyo Niwano and the Reverend Dana Greeley met in 1968 and quickly formed a deep and lasting friendship. Both men shared a dream of peace for all people.
More important than their personal friendship, they forged an institutional relationship that has endured and prospered. It has endured because it has the solid foundation of a common vision, shared values of peace and religious freedom, and a deep mutual respect.
REV. PETER MORALES: That spirit of friendship and mutual respect has continued and prospered through seven subsequent presidents of the Unitarian Universalist Association. And on the side of the Rissho Kosei Kai through the leadership of your founder and his successor, President Nichiko Niwano. We now look ahead to many more years of friendship as we form a relationship with your President Designate, Kosho Niwano.
REV. PETER MORALES: What a great honor it was to have your President Designate, Kosho Niwano, honor us with her presence last year at our Annual General Assembly. That assembly marked the 50th anniversary of the unification of the Unitarian and Universalist Churches of America.
I was personally delighted by the opportunity to meet privately with her in a small group of leaders from different faith traditions. Her remarks to more than 4,000 delegates at our plenary was a highlight of our celebrations. I might add that she delivered her talk in excellent English. Alas, as you can see, I cannot reciprocate.
REV. PETER MORALES: The enduring relationship between our two faiths is remarkable. And unfortunately, it is remarkable in large part because it is all too rare. Every day we see the terrible consequences of religious differences between peoples. We see leaders use religion to create hatred and violence. We see religion used to justify terrible acts of terrorism and cruelty. Sadly, religious divisions kill people every day.
REV. PETER MORALES: Over the years our two faiths have worked hard to make religion a force for peace and understanding. We continue our work today in partnerships like the International Association for Religious Freedom. I was honored to receive a delegation of the IARS last fall when they visited our headquarters in Boston.
We also work together in Religions for Peace, promoting such initiatives as disarmament and anti-Islamaphobia. We continue to work together to promote social change leading to justice and dignity, especially in India in support of the UUA's Holding India Program and its partner work with Ela Bhatt's Self Employed Women's Association.
I am proud that we are also partners in the work of the Human Rights Education Project of the South Asia chapter of the IARF.
REV. PETER MORALES: I am also pleased that our association was able to help in a modest way with the relief efforts after last year's devastating tsunami. We are committed to being a friend and partner of the RKK in an ongoing way. And today I am delighted to bring an additional $60,000 to contribute to your relief efforts.
These sums came from people in our congregations all across America. It speaks to the quality of our friendship that, when the news of the severity of the tsunami came, our office in Boston immediately begin receiving telephone calls and electronic mail offering to help.
We quickly created a special fund and donations began coming immediately. Compassion for each other and for all life is central to both of our faiths.
REV. PETER MORALES: Today, as we celebrate our friendship and recall what we have done in partnership over the years, I would also like to add a gentle challenge to our two organizations. The need for religious groups to come together in mutual respect has never been greater than it is today.
What might we do in the future to further our work in an even more ambitious way? Where is the greatest opportunity for us to further the cause of peace in the world? What new things might we imagine doing if we came together in the spirit of that first meeting between the Nikkyo Niwano and Dana Greeley.
REV. PETER MORALES: In my own organization, we are beginning new efforts to provide cross-cultural experiences of service and learning for all of our people, but especially for our young people and for our ministers in training. We realize that the direct experience of living in another culture and working side by side with people from very different backgrounds is a profoundly transformative experience.
REV. PETER MORALES: I know how the experience of living and traveling in South America changed me. And I've also been deeply moved by my travels here in Japan, to the Philippines, and to India as UUA president. When we cross cultural borders, we also cross spiritual borders. When we come to know people who are different from ourselves, we come to understand them. When we understand them, we come to see our common humanity. In time, we come to love one another.
REV. PETER MORALES: Our mutual friend has been such a wonderful gift to both of our peoples over the years. It has also been a gift to the wider world as we work together. I am convinced we have more gifts to give. I look forward to working in true partnership with President Niwano, President Designate Kosho Niwano, and all of the good people of Rissho Kosei Kai for many years.
As your teachings instruct us, we are on a common path. I look forward to our walking that path together for many years.
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Last updated on Tuesday, July 17, 2012.
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