Amsterdam, Netherlands—UPF, together with affiliated organizations Women’s Federation for World Peace and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, and the Liberian Association, held a Peace and Family Festival in the No Limit community center on the outskirts of Amsterdam.
One of the intentions of the festival was to give the audience the joyful experience of singing together in unity, led by a talented singer. For this purpose we invited renowned soul and gospel singer James Houston from the United States.
James was born in the state of Georgia. In his youth he sang for various local church communities. After marrying his Swedish wife, Britta, he moved to Europe. In recent years James has performed regularly in the Scandinavian countries. Because of his warm, mellow voice and his modest, dignified appearance, he has become popular, especially in Denmark and Sweden.
During the festival in Amsterdam James performed a number of medleys of popular songs in a wide variety of styles, from soul and R&B to Motown and gospel.
The guests were familiar with most of the popular songs; additionally the lyrics were projected on a screen, karaoke-style. Therefore it was easy for the audience to sing along with the songs, which created a joyful feeling of oneness.
Mrs. Eleanor Flowers, a most talented soul and gospel singer from the Netherlands, joined him in a number of songs and also performed a selection from her own repertoire.
In addition, the audience enjoyed a performance by the young, talented violinist Welmoed Arkenaar. She performed two spirited, joyful pieces, the song of the Cossacks and a Hungarian dance, adding an extra dimension to the joyful atmosphere. She was accompanied by Johannes Campman on piano.
Acting as emcees, Bert Janssen and his daughter-in-law Eli Juliano guided the audience through the program in a dynamic and inspiring way. They introduced each medley by describing the theme that the songs had in common. Each medley had a different theme, for instance: "Stay hopeful, don't look back" or “Stay loyal to one another,” “Appreciate the beautiful things around you” or “Peace starts with you and me.” Generally the medleys expressed the hope that, if we work together, we can indeed create the better world for which we all have longed: the world in which peace, unity and harmony among all people will reign.
The highlight of the program was a video of UPF founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon in which she spoke of the parental Heart of God, which embraces all people as His children. When we invest all our efforts, she said, we can create the "one family of humankind under God, the Parent." After listening to Mother Moon's words, we all joined in a solemn toast to "world peace, based on loving marriages and families." After the festival, the participants were treated to a variety of gourmet snacks.
By singing together, guided by two high-level singers, all 80 of us could experience something of the new world of "one family under God" and get a glimpse of God's Kingdom.