Special to the JTA Jewish Sabbath Service in Beijing

The International Council of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, meeting in the People’s Republic of China for the first time, adopted a program of peace education that will include “multi-religious prayer experiences,” it was reported this week by Norma Levitt of New York, one of nine international presidents of the WCRP.

Levitt, a trustee of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform), is the only WCRP president from the Americas. She was a member of the American delegation to the meeting in Beijing, attended by 140 delegates from 30 countries representing 12 different religious faiths.

A feature of the International Council meeting, she reported, was a Jewish Sabbath service led by Rabbi Jack Cohen of Jerusalem, in which all 140 delegates took part.

Levitt said she had been especially impressed by the hospitality of the council’s hosts, led by U Lan Fu, vice president of the People’s Republic. Buddhist, Taoist, Moslim, Catholic and Protestant associations from throughout China took part in the meetings, marking the first time that Chinese religious representatives had attended a gathering of the WCRP International Council. Following the Council’s meetings in China, the WCRP executive committee met in New York to discuss the implementation of decisions taken in Beijing, Levitt reported. Among them, she said, were plans for peace education programs, including the development of a network of peace institutes and departments of peace education at selected universitites.

The World Conference on Religion and Peace was founded in 1969 by religious leaders from Japan, India and the U.S. Among its American organizers were Catholic Bishop John Wright, Methodist Bishop John Wesley Lord, Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Dr. Homer Jack, a Unitarian minister who became its first executive director.

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