Unification Sermons and Talks
Pastoral Letter: Building The Grassroots Community
January 13, 1999
Dear brothers and sisters,
This letter arises out of my research, discussion, prayer and reflection about the way to build God and True Parents' movement in America. I believe it to be faithful to True Parents' directions and responsive to the horizontal reality of our movement and the larger culture. I hope you can give it your prayerful attention.
First I want to share my reflections on the relationship between the church and family federation. God's original ideal was not for a church but was for Adam's family to multiply as a clan, society, nation and world. The original plan, in this sense, was a family federation.
Because of the fall, God sent the Messiah to establish the original family and begin the family federation. But Jesus without a family couldn't create the family federation. The resurrected Jesus and Holy Spirit created the church.
The church, while a blessed community, is a spiritual family, distinct from the biological family. In some ways, the church is at odds with the family. For 2,000 years, spiritual salvation came to the individual through the church, not to or through the family.
In the last days, Jesus sent our True Parents to establish the original family. When the churches failed to recognize this, he established the Unification Church to take on their mission in the last days. As such, the Unification Church takes on the Christian dispensation of individual salvation. The creation of the family federation means that True Parents created the foundation for salvation to come to and through the family. Then why do we need to have a "church"? And what is the relationship between the church and the family federation?
My thinking is that the family federation organizes itself as a local church. It does so in order to accomplish four purposes. The first is corporate worship of God. The second is education in God's word. The third is to foster small groups, and the fourth is to train and coordinate for personal ministry.
The ideal toward which we are moving is the original hometown, in which a blessed couple has a clan of some 160 families. At the gathering of the clan, you naturally worship God. You have community schooling for education. Every three-generation family is a natural small group. Each person living in the fullness of God's love for the sake of others is personal ministry. We have not achieved the ideal of hometown. Nonetheless, we can create conditional hometowns through the interaction of family church (worship and education) and family federation (small groups and personal ministry). The root of the community is the small groups and personal ministry. The family federation "does church" when it gathers for worship and education.
The family federation is the context for the Kodan activity. Kodan, after all, is small groups. Kodan does not do corporate worship, but it does have educational activities and personal ministry. Kodan leadership is voluntary. Kodan has no buildings, only members' houses. But Father's organizational structure of Kodan is tapping into an effective dynamic for community building, and we can apply this to our entire movement.
Before discussing this further, I want to share True Father's recent directions about grassroots organization. Here are some excerpts from the True Children's Day 1998 leaders meetings:
1998.11.20 True Father
People have followed the moral way and the moral way is rooted in the family. All the problems of the world should be solved through the family level. This is the blessed family's responsibility. So we emphasize the grassroots organization. This is not my word but God's word. . . I want to make the Korean system universal.
Reverend Sun Jo Hwang, President of the Unification Church of Korea
Our headquarters staff are visiting our local Unification Church ministers and inspiring them. We made a pamphlet to explain the detail content of a 40-day condition, including prayer, Hoon Dok Hae, bows, chain fasting and coming to church. This is in order to create the heartistic community of the church. Our ministers call and visit each member, especially elder members, and hear their testimony. . . We are building our grassroots organization. We made a national Hoon Dok Hae organization. We set up at least 3 teams of 12 families in each village. . . Our goal is to create 12,000 Hoon Dok Hae teams. So far we have 7,210 teams.
Do your best for this grassroots village organization.
Rev. Jeong Og Yu, Director of UC activities in Japan
(on the Japanese "horizontal leadership structure") In 1994 the Family Federation started, so HSA and the Family Federation each existed with separate hierarchies. Father wanted to reform this centering on the church beginning in January 1998. The church tradition is like a family. Tradition of worship means Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday services. . . . This should be transferred to Japan and worldwide. . . . In the Completed Testament Age the mind and body should unite centering on the mind, so the church should take the leadership creating a unified system. . . . Each place is unique. . . . The question is how to settle your church around where you live. One District Leader was a 70 years old pre-blessed couple. He did not know what a District Leader is. We assigned 12 families to his district. We gave a list of members indicating who are coming or not coming to church. He was to phone them all. . . . The District Leader gives systematic guidance in Hoon Dok Hae and hears testimony and sharing from members. He encourages them through joyful things and relieves their pain by sharing the bad things. Then they have refreshments and informal talk. Refreshments are potluck. We can do this activity everywhere, anywhere.
The church system is based on the family.
1998.11.21 True Father
(on worship and education) Develop music and songs; make a CD. In public, sing a song, pray and give your testimony. . . Make powerful songs and spread them in your neighborhood. . . Make it interesting for youth; develop Sunday school. Create new ideas. If you do not have Sunday school, set it up now. . . Educate people and you do not even need street witnessing.
We see that small group development is taking place in Korea and Japan. In Korea they are called Hoon Dok Hae teams. In Japan they are called, apparently, district churches. Here in America, the Family Federation has varying degrees of small group activity in Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Jersey, Chicago and other cities. Often we call it a community system. In New Jersey we call them Hoon Dok teams. Nationwide we have the Kodan teams. These are different names for small group organization. We have the tradition of "home church;" other options are "small family church," "house church," "mini-church," "fellowship group," or theme-specific names like "Adopt-a-Mom," "Breaking Bread," "Lunch Time Bible Study," or one of my favorites: "Indoor Plant Ministry." In one Christian church I saw several types of groups. One was "kinship groups," that gather to worship, study the Bible, pray and enjoy fellowship with one another. There were women's groups, men's groups, and Bible study groups. They had "Discipleship Groups" designed for new believers. There were Prayer Groups, interceding for people's needs and the needs of specific ministries, and other specialty groups geared toward people with common areas of interest in ministry. Their "Joshua House Groups" specifically target young adults, while Fellowship Groups simply enjoy fellowship while participating in certain activities like camping and riding motorcycles (fishing, anyone?).
FFWPU from its inception was a small group activity. On September 7, 1994, Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak shared that each blessed couple is a family level church leader based on the tribal messiah providence, and that each family church should grow to include 160 families. Soon thereafter he sent the following guidelines for family federation activity:
1. Education in True Parents' tradition and realization of the ideal of blessed families; guidance for the fulfillment of the Family Pledge.
2. Education and guidance for tribal messiah activity.
3. Tribal messiah meetings. Time: Evening time every first and fifteenth of the month. Place: Members' homes. Content: Guidance through reading Father's speeches and Divine Principle.
4. Witnessing through tribal messiah activity.
Kodan is another model for small group strategy. Father created Kodan in order to do fundraising, witnessing and public relations, and he is asking that the church and Kodan work together. He expects that our Japanese brothers and sisters, representing the mother nation, will help convey Father's ideas and heart to us who are in the elder son nation. This is so that we can inherit the mother nation's responsibility.
Kodan's lay leadership and small group organization is similar in structure to the fastest growing Christian churches, the so-called "new paradigm" churches. I've written elsewhere about this and I recommend books such as Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Church, Larry Stockstill's The Cell Church, the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Small Group Leaders' Handbook: The Next Generation, and Donald Miller's Reinventing American Protestantism.
The strategy of small groups and home church is not new for us, but it has not brought membership growth in America. Why should it do so now? Having done some research on this, I'll put forth some characteristics of small group strategies that succeed in America. One, working with the pastor, groups set their own purpose within the church culture. Two, groups set their own goals. Three, membership is voluntary. Four, the groups are self-organizing, based upon their shared purpose. It is pertinent that when Father established Kodan he said that each team should elect its own leader. Five, the groups are the environment for personal ministry. Six, as a result of this, small groups grow, become too big for intimate fellowship, and divide into two. In this way -- seven -- the groups nurture lay leadership. To create a small group, you can start out just being sociable. A small group can be people who work together, organizing by office or company. Our building manager is doing that here at 43rd Street. Or a small group can organize by interest or friendship. One small group in Manhattan Family Church consists of brothers from South or Central America. Work together with your local Kodan leadership. Discuss together the best way to proceed in your area. Small groups are the foundation for vigorous church life. I call UTS alumni take the lead in this development.
Small groups can serve as an environment to help each other economically. It is up to each group, as it is up to each family, to decide how to approach this. In building God's kingdom, we have several request/opportunities for offering donations, that we can balance as God guides us. The first offering is our local church tithe of 10% of our income, off the top, so that God might bless the other 90%.
For your information, our tithing covers only a third of local church expenses. Our Regional and State Leaders' personal fundraising covers two-thirds. This limits their time to pursue their responsibility of serving and leading. If we want to follow the Baptist "farmer-preacher" model, then we should allow the church leader to have secular employment and be available part-time. To have the church leader available full-time, we members have to support their family.
The Kodan fund is another financial responsibility. Father directly asked that each member donate generously every month to the Kodan fund. The offering in September through November went to the Health Sciences Center at the University of Bridgeport. This offering is dedicated to True Father's highest priority for the elder son nation.
Third, God has made another request, the "living sacrifice" offering of $16,000, as part of our course to attain the ideal family status. (See below for further explanation.) A fourth opportunity that God is calling our American church to fulfill is to support our True Parents' global evangelical tour next year. We can be the wind beneath the wings of grace from heaven. Fifth, our Seminary is in need of support, both new students and financial. There are many other important causes and conditions. As we make our humble offerings, let us remember that God never gives to us a cross we cannot bear. I believe that success in small groups will lead not only to spiritual revival and church growth, but also to financial empowerment.
I will share guidance Reverend Pak gave while he was in New York this November. It is his systematization of True Parents' 1998 course. This is a simplified summary.
The years 1945-52 should have seen the victory of True Parents and expansion of the blessing to the cosmic level, through Catholicism and Protestantism centering on the United States. This failed and Father went the way of the cross. The years 1992-98 are the period to restore this failure. South America represents Catholicism, North America Protestantism. The symbol of victory now is the white cross.
On June 13, 1998, True Parents established two completed four-position foundations, one in spirit world and one on earth. This liberates the spirit world. This relates to the Hoon Dok Hae tours True Parents carried out in Korea, Japan and America in the spring. The topic was "Blessed Marriage and Eternal Life," and they proclaimed the truth of blessed marriage in spirit world.
On April 17, 1998, the day following the end of the American tour, Father announced to the membership at Belvedere about Jesus' marriage. It was on April 17 of 1935 that Jesus gave Father his mission. Since then, Father has always considered April 17 to be the resurrection day (Easter). Two couples now bridge spirit world and physical world: Heung Jin Nim's couple and Jesus' couple. One important internal mission of the elder son nation is to attend Jesus as part of the providence of uniting Christianity together with True Parents. Later that day, Father proclaimed America the elder son nation. His speech at Belvedere continued until 2 p.m., at which time he had 40 Americans (elder son nation) hold hands encircling 12 Koreans (father nation), 12 Japanese, 12 Fililpinos, 12 Taiwanese and 12 Canadians (mother and daughter nations). As we held hands, Father gave a ceremonial prayer.
There was an intermediate period during which Father could have gained worldwide victory, 1954-61. The key failure here was that of Mary Pak, vice-president of Ehwa Women's University and wife of Korea's prime minister. It was most difficult for Father to forgive her, but this May, through Dr. Sang Hun Lee, God told Father to do so. To do this, Father undertook a course of personal hardship in South America. He even fasted without sleeping for three days and reached the point of vomiting blood. Finally he found the condition to forgive her, and found incredible liberation.
On Nov. 29, 1997, 3.6 billion spirit persons were blessed at RFK Stadium's Blessing 97; 120 million of them were Christians. They attended Heung Jin Nim's 100-day workshop and then arrived in America at midnight of May 23, 1998. At that hour, True Parents held a prayer meeting at Belvedere. These spirit persons assisted the Madison Square Garden campaign, inspiring countless Christians to work with us.
Throughout the spring, True Parents paid incredible indemnity in South America, fishing day and night in the most rugged conditions. This was the internal foundation for Blessing '98. Father did three hours of Hoon Dok Hae the night before Blessing 98, reading Dr. Sang Hun Lee's letters. He engaged the four religious leaders in spirit world. All the walls in spirit world came down, spirit world and physical world became one and the battle of Cain and Abel for elder sonship was completed.
Then came the 40-day workshops. One was for Adam National Messiahs in the Pantanal. A second was for Blessed Families at Jardim -- the Ideal Family workshop. A third was for the second generation, centering on Hyun Jin Nim, in Alaska, and the fourth was for international leaders in Kodiak. These represented, among other things, the unity of north and south and of land (South America) and water (Alaska). Hyun Jin Nim bagged the biggest moose of this year in Alaska on the final hours of a seven-day long hunt. Father said this represents the transition to the leadership of the second generation hand in hand with first generation.
During this period, Father set up five declarations. The five declarations connect to what Adam and Eve had to do in the Garden of Eden. First was to have absolute faith, absolute love and absolute obedience. Second was to establish the parents, husband-wife, children and family that are absolute, unchanging, unique and eternal.
God needs the restoration of the fall of two generations: Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel. In the Garden, God could love His children for a time, but never His grandchildren. So restoration required a new Adam and Eve and their children being blessed. This is the meaning of the third Jardim declaration, which states that the children -- the second generation -- are the third Creator (God is the first, parents are the second). This means that each generation can call God "Father." The second generation is unique in that they possess elements both of the invisible God and their visible parents. They receive both God's love and their parents' love. Also, the children's generation is where horizontal multiplication comes about. o It is "fate" for both generations to relate to God as their Father. In Father's terminology, "destiny" can change, but "fate" is deeper than destiny and cannot change. The parent-child relationship, husband-wife relationship and brother-sister relationship all are treated as fate. That means that they cannot change. Thus in the ideal there is no concept of divorce. This relates to the fourth Jardim declaration.
After February 7, 1999, the number of blessed people on earth, plus their kin, will surpass 50% of the world's population. This is the foundation for God to be all transcendent, all immanent, all capable and all sovereign, exercising complete authority over Satan in the world. This relates to the completion of the four position foundations of parents and of children, and in spirit world and in the physical world.
In Kodiak on October 5, 1998, Father declared the Age of Liberation and Unification. On that day, Father gave the five blessed religious founders their missions on earth. They and the good Christian spirit men are looking for people to work with for their resurrection, especially their descendents. When the descendents don't realize this, they will face difficulties. But if we do recognize it, the blessing we receive will be great. Everything we undertake from now should be with the spirit world doing 95%, even 98%. They are ready to do it.
One method to mobilize spirit world is prayer at a holy ground. Holy ground prayer includes Hoon Dok Hae, kyung bae, recital of the Family Pledge and prayer.
The highest priority is to establish your individual relationship with God. It is the basic form of indemnity necessary at this time. Everything True Parents have done was accomplished not by money, knowledge or organization, but by indemnity, and the most important indemnity is mind-body unity. Hence True Parents are living sacrificially, denying themselves in the South American wilderness.
The foundation for the ideal family includes land. Therefore, Father is developing four areas: Jardim, Fuerte Olimpo, Rio Perdido and Salobra. These together are a four position foundation, a new Eden. It has been apportioned to the 185 nations. The foundation also includes daily Hoon Dok Hae, loving all things, and attending the 40-day Ideal Family Workshop. This workshop culminates in your family's photograph with True Parents, the authority to match and bless, and entry into True Parents' family registry. To register fully, we need the foundation of all things (an offering representing "16" -- ideally, $16,000, and children (our tribe of 160 blessed families). On the foundation of offering all things (OTA) and children (NTA), we offer ourselves as parents through attending the Ideal Family Workshop in Jardim (CTA). We should make these offerings with great pride. Partial contributions toward the material offering are of course acceptable. I hope that this brief summary of True Parents' course may help us all become stronger in faith and sharper in understanding.
Through small groups we can develop our hearts as brothers and sisters by creating communities beyond race, nation and culture. They will succeed only through local initiative. Again, I request those UTS alumni who read this to consider small group leadership. The underlying dynamic -- if it is to endure -- is joy in fellowship with God, True Parents, our families and our community.
I recently encountered two couples coming home from a Kodan meeting. They had such a feeling of life that I asked about their meeting. Their Kodan is made up of the families of one office. Their meeting started after work. At 7:00 p.m. spouses arrived and they spread out the light refreshments that they snacked on throughout the evening. They had an opening prayer and 510 minutes of Hoon Dok Hae. The leader then presented some points from the recent leaders conference. The seven families in the group had recently done a joint garage sale, and they discussed how it went and reflected on other ways to fundraise. They are considering sharing a booth in a mall. The leader told me, "It is surprising how the activity encourages everyone to think for the sake of others." No one criticized others for not donating so much. They evenly divided the result of the garage sale ($900 gross for seven families), even though the contribution of materials was different per family. The focus was very much how they could help each other raise funds. They have not met much in the past, but now want to meet twice a month. Some brought children and one wife took care of them. They closed at 9:30 p.m. In Manhattan Family Church, a new small group shared a testimony about their first meeting. "As we entered the C's residence, we felt a very heavenly and holy spirit in the room. Mr. C. offered the opening prayer after he read a section of Life in the Spirit World and on Earth. Then Mr. N. read the first paragraph of Level 4. We spoke about the relation between husband and wife, God and us, God and the big figures in human history, True Parents and us, the group and the church, the group and us. . . We concluded that the purpose of the group is to help each other revive the hope that our True Parents have brought to humanity. . . (Dinner time) Let me tell you that this was a delicious meal. Maybe that's why we could have the energy to hold the meeting very late. . . J.P.M. shared his life experiences of 21 years in the church, referring to God's Will and the World, p. 440. . . We watched the heart-rending video tape of the Little Angels in North Korea. At moments, this video brought many of us to the point of tears. . . I read the names and prayed for all the Manhattan Family Church members and then we prayed together. . . .We did not feel like leaving each other that night."
Of course, small groups are not everything. We also need vibrant worship services that inspire both members and guests. Father told us, "As the last days approach, you must gather more often and with more devotion to worship service." (Belvedere, March 5, 1995) We also need a strong and consistent educational program, beginning with Sunday School. And please include CARP-STF in your educational plans. It is the premiere course for high school graduates to gain spiritual/character training, establish a life-long relationship with God and True Parents, and take an undergraduate degree. And we need to support the unique Tribal Messiah personal ministries for which God has gifted each of us.
When our families and communities are in tune with God, our financial house will prosper. Please pray that on the foundation of new spiritual life we all can fulfill the external needs of the day. As Mrs. Spurgin put it to me, when we go beyond what we think we can do, God and spirit world help and miracles are possible. Believe! I ask that we pray about how we can serve God's purposes. . .
to help build my local church and family federation.
to become a small group leader.
to join a small group. If there isn't one around for me, then to help start one!
Thank you for your support of True Parents, our movement and me and my family. May God bless you always.
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