Many of the key founders of the United Nations and those in national leadership saw spirituality and values as a guiding force behind the formation of the United Nations in 1945. Thus, the United Nations was initially built on spiritual principles and universal values, such as peace, human rights, human dignity and worth, justice, respect and freedom. The NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns-NY (CSVGC) was formed in New York in 2004, in honor of the Founding Spirit of the United Nations. The CSVGC-NY sponsors week-long activities in honor of the UN Founding, and in 2007 created the Spirit of the United Nations Award to recognize and acknowledge those individuals whose work is an expression of the core principles, in spirit and vision of the United Nations.
It was a day for remembrance and recognition at the UN on October 29, 2019 when diplomats, spiritual leaders, representatives of various UN organizations, NGOs as well as concerned global citizens, religions and professions gathered for the 13th Annual Spirit of the United Nations Award Ceremony, as part of a larger Week of Spirituality, Values, and Global Concerns from October 21st to the 25th.
On October 23rd, 2019, the 13th Annual Spirit of the UN Awarding Ceremony, held at the Chapel of the Church Center on the theme The Call for a Life of Human Dignity: Reframing the Discussion on the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda, honored the following distinguished persons before an audience of 200 from the UN:
Diplomat Award – H.E. Ms. Rhonda King, Ambassador of St. Vincent and the
Grenadines to the United Nations
UN System Award – Hon. Elliott Harris, UN Asst. Sec- Gen. for Economic Development
NGO Award – Mr. Fred Nyabera, Director, End Child Poverty, Arigatou International
Youth Award – Ms. Jillian Abballe, UN Advocacy Officr, Anglican Commission at UN
In the morning, there was a period for common meditation where the relevance of all faiths and communities was emphasized. A circle of hearts awakened to the human condition beyond nationality, religion and creed was sought and encouraged in those gathered.
Rev. Dionne Boissiere, Pastor of the Church, as dynamic Emcee, gave an enthusiastic welcome, applauding the honors being bestowed upon exemplary individuals who put into practice the UN ideals. Beth Blissman led a moment of universal prayer for peace. This prayer in many ways embodies the thrust of this event and its relationship to the UN, to bring well-being and peace to all mankind via a recognition of our oneness and spiritual harmony.
Everything took off on inspiring note with Luminous Trio, an accomplished violin trio featuring Mr. Lucas Stratmann, Ms Yuko Naito-Gotay, and Flutist Kazuko Miyoshi-Stratmann. Of considerable importance were the Welcome Remarks were delivered by H.E. Mrs. Katalin Annamaria Bogyay, Ambassador of Hungary to the United Nations. Ambassador Bogyay, a past SUNA Awardee, spoke about the importance of including the perspective of spirituality at the United Nations throughout its various platforms. Rabbi Roger Ross, Vice Chair of the Week of Spirituality, shared about the spiritual history of the United Nations since its early beginnings.
The first Award (Diplomat Award) was presented to H.E. Mrs. Rhonda King, Permanent Representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations. In her uplifting Acceptance speech she spoke about her life and how God guided her in a detailed manner,
every step of the way in her life until her appointment as Ambassador to the United Nations.
The second Award (UN System Award) was bestowed upon Hon. Elliott Harris, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development. During his Acceptance Speech, he gave profound insights into the role of the United Nations in solving humanity’s problems and the effective role of faith leaders.
Mr. Fred Nyabera, Director of Ending Child Poverty, of Arigatou International, received the
NGO Award. In his Acceptance Speech, he spoke about his work with women and children in Africa, and how the added faith perspective brought transformational changes in his work.
The Youth Award was presented to Ms. Jillian Abballe, and in her Acceptance Speech, she shared about her work as a youth and faith leader, which brought meaning and direction to her work with youth at the United Nations.
The 13th Annual Spirit of the United Nations Award Ceremony ended at 3 pm on the 23rd of October, 2019 with Co-Chair Rev. Cathy Towle’s closing remarks, and cake cutting for the 74th Anniversary Celebration of the UN. Altogether, it was a day that brought to heart our yearning to incorporate in our lives a more of true divinity in ourselves – a divinity that allows us to be individuals who live in peace and interdependence irrespective of the concepts placed upon ourselves. It was a day that manifested the harmony that we desire to put at the center of the UN and its institutions. It also reflects the current need to include a tradition of higher values and inclusive spirituality as foundational and fundamental values upon which individuals, governments, nations and religions can truly come together, co-creating a better world with greater harmony.
Co-sponsors for the Week were:
The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Status at the United Nations (CoNGO);
Committee of Religious NGOs; NGO Committee on Human Rights; NGO Committee on Children’s Rights; NGO Committee on Sustainable Development, NY; NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security; NGO Committee on Education, Learning and Literacy; UNSRC- Enlightenment Society (SEAT); UNSRC-Feng Shui Group; the UNSRC-Friendship Club; Peace Vision and Action Coalition; Spiritual Caucus; Values Caucus; World Association of NGOs; UN Women’s Guild; United Religions Initiative at the UN (URI-UN)
Participating Organizations were the following:
IAAI Approaches to Global Challenges – Glocha
Institute of International Social Development
OSMTH, Knights Templar International
Sukyo Mahikari Centers for Spiritual Development
United Religions Initiative – UN
Universal Peace Federation
Women’s Federation for World Peace