The Words of the Kawamura Family
Second Generation with Rev. In Jin Moon after Sunday Service at the Manhattan Center. Friday, August 14, 2009, marks both the 44th birthday as well as the one-year anniversary of Rev. In Jin Moon’s inauguration as chairperson of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in America.
Rev. Moon, who was educated at Columbia University and Harvard Divinity School, juggles the roles of wife and mother and CEO of New York City’s Manhattan Center Studios, as well as the President and CEO of the FFWPU in America.
From personally preparing a meal for 30 STF trainees invited to her house, to visiting 12 regions in six months, to meeting with leaders and staff members of UTS, WFWP, CARP, ACLC and the Witnessing Summit, Reverend Moon’s ministry in America has been a whirlwind of activities that have touched the lives and Sunday Services of Unification families.
After sharing her personal experiences with her brothers and sisters and her work with Manhattan Center, Reverend Moon closed her inauguration speech, saying, “I have a lot of work ahead of me, but the most important thing that I would like to do is ask for your input. I would love to be able to have the opportunity to tour the country, to sit down with each and every one of you and listen to your ideas.”
She did just that, starting with a town hall meeting in New Jersey. The meetings soon became a listening tour to hear the interests and passions of the Second Generation and the hearts of the First Generation. In Boston in October 2008, Rev. Moon, despite suffering a cold, spent two-and-a-half hours meeting each family.
A week later, she visited the Bay Area Family Church in San Francisco. After introductions, a music performance and a speech, Reverend Moon announced to the 200-plus Second Generation gathered, “Now I would like to meet all of you. Please tell me who you are, what are your dreams and goals, and how you think we should change our church!” A line was formed around the room and the young people shared their backgrounds and interests. Reverend Moon retired to her room a little after midnight.
It was the same in Los Angeles the following month, when Reverend Moon asked all 140 Second Generation members to introduce themselves and their hopes and dreams.
In Seattle in December 2008, she commented on her love for Seattle’s Microsoft and Starbucks. She also summarized her efforts to meet and understand America’s membership:
As I’ve traveled the country and have been getting to know all the brothers and sisters, it’s been an opportunity for me to do a fact-finding tour of everything that has gone on before, what our membership looks like, what the congregation looks like, what kind of programs they have ongoing. It’s been an incredible experience to come face to face with the First Generation that have given so much to the movement.
More rewarding is truly meeting your children, the Second Generation, and getting to put a name to a face and hearing what they would like to do with their lives, their aspiration, their goals. Many are in the process of figuring out their identities, but it’s always a treat to hear it from the mouths of the young people, who will be our future.
Tossa Cromwell, who serves as communications officer in Reverend Moon’s Communications Department, explained that through her listening tour, Rev. Moon “created a connection between the True Family and all the Blessed Families -- First and Second Generation members. Any Blessed Family who wanted to could go up and greet her, shake her hand, talk with her, and take a picture with her. She gave of herself freely and made herself vulnerable.”
Kensei Tsubata, who attended the Minnesota visit, shared that he was “inspired by the intimate and sincere sharing of Reverend Moon and her open heart to hear from the youth.”
Karen Rogers, who participated in the listening session in Reverend Moon’s final tour stop in Texas, reflected, “I felt completely understood and loved by Rev. In Jin Moon and her family. My heart was melted.”
For those living in the U.S. Northeast, the biggest impact Reverend Moon has made is visible in Lovin’ Life Ministries (LLM). According to LLM youth pastor Jaga Gavin, “Regardless of your faith, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background, LLM is a place where you can feel the warmth of God’s heart through music, an amazing message, and community.” In his words, Reverend Moon’s vision for LLM is “to create a ministry that we as a church community deserve, and a place where we can come together and be proud.” Gavin explained the different aspects of LLM: “It doesn’t just happen on Sundays.”
In accordance with Reverend Moon’s vision, 4 West 43rd Street has been transformed into the Lovin’ Life Learning Center (LLLC), which promotes internal and external excellence, a key component of Rev. Moon’s vision for Unificationist youth.
Gavin explained that LLM was “raising the bar so that we influence our peers through the way we live our lives. We must live a life of excellence, becoming the best at sports at academics, and in our professions. We need to create a standard of internal and external excellence, making this the norm in high schools and colleges.”
On every day of the week, the LLLC has programs on character education, parenting classes, Bible studies, Divine Principle studies, open mike nights, poetry nights, martial arts classes and Project Connect, which, in Gavin’s words, is “the LLM spin on small groups. You take what you are passionate about as an individual and build an interest-based small group, and then serve your community through your passion.”
In a memo, Gavin explained the external layout plans for the LLLC:
The external design team made up of Jonathan Gullery and Tami Gavin are redesigning and updating the rooms on the main floor under In Jin Nims direction. They have updated the kitchen, which can now feed large groups that come in for different seminars and workshops. We have created a theater / presentation room with an attached lounge which is being used for Divine Principle studies, character education seminars and much more while using the lounge as a breakout room. An art gallery is being established to display the art works of our blessed children and young people. The gallery will also be used for ballroom-style dance classes, dinners, and seminars.
The two storefront rooms are doing really well. The East storefront is used for open mike nights, poetry reading, bands, yoga classes, and much more. The West storefront is still being worked on. It is currently being used as a lounge for Bible studies and one-day seminars. In the future we are planning on creating a herbal tea shop with health food so that the room will have an organic cafe feel to it. The main lobby and sanctuary have not yet been touched, but they are not being overlooked by any means. The lobby will be totally updated with seating areas, new carpet, lighting, paint, and information / resource kiosks. The sanctuary is currently being used as a large conference hall; lunches and dinners are held there, also martial arts classes and dance classes. In the future it will be transformed into the new youth center where thousands of young people will turn their lives to God.
Gavin’s own project is called Weekend Warriors, which includes trades people such as plumbers and electricians who serve the community through helping community members in need with how-to workshops and chores around the house.
The other aspect of LLM is the Sunday worship services held at Manhattan Center. The service starts precisely at 10 AM, with the audience counting aloud together with a countdown clock.
Launched on Eastern Sunday, April 12, 2009 the first week drew in 1,200 people. While the numbers the following weeks dropped to 800 and 700, according to Gavin, “The numbers have been consistently stepping up. Even in the summertime, when churches experience fewer numbers, we’ve had 1,000 to 1,200, and the biggest number is 1,370.”
Gavin explained, “Pastor In Jin Moon is not scared to talk about certain topics: issues that young Second Generation face in their whole lives and so the service is applicable to people’s lives and gives us examples and tools to live a life of excellence in our families, businesses, and workplaces.”
For some, like 18-year-old Leilani Owens, the service and the music are the highlights of her week.
Twenty-three-year-old Chris Alan Derflinger has been working with LLM since May 2009, playing the piano and performing for LLM’s music ministry. Those in the ministry practice an average of four to six hours for the following day’s service.
Derflinger shared, “I have had such amazing experiences working with our music ministry. It is such a blessing to work with such experienced, caring, and talented musicians. In Jin Nim has been so supportive of the arts and is also such a pleasure to work with.”
For Derflinger, the opportunity to interact with the True Family has “certainly recharged and revived my own spiritual life.” And “playing on a Steinway Grand [piano] weekly and making people ecstatic to come to service through the music has been overwhelming and absolutely worthwhile.”
For 21-year-old New Jersey resident Carlo Santelli, “The band and choir really enjoy what they do, and you can see they mean every word of what they sing. I have always felt God through music, and LLM has allowed me to bring that relationship to a whole new level.”
Santelli’s first experience with the LLM service was “way above and beyond any other church service I had ever attended. The combination of the passionate music, a very sincere MC, and capped off with In Jin nim's love and guidance made for a wonderful experience that made me want to come back for more.”
For Gavin, one of the biggest accomplishments has been the consistent attendance of old friends. “Friends I grew up with who have been on the fringes are now coming back and are inspired. They tell me this is what they always wanted church to be, and this is something they can be proud of.”
28-year-old Mantoku Kono recounted, “I had not been to church for a number of years, but all the talk about this revolutionary service peaked my interest and I had to go, just once. When the band and choir started their songs, there was an amazing spirit and atmosphere created in the hall. They sang their traditional holy songs, but then followed it up with contemporary Christian and even pop music. I was really inspired that In Jin Nim shared so openly about her experiences. Everything In Jin Nim gave to us that day was amazing. I felt her heart of wanting to love the community glowing, and the support of her staff and family was so solid.”
Gavin also recounted stories of “our First Generation members who invited their parents who came to the service; they said this is something they can be proud of.”
For Santelli, who is a student at Bergen Community College in northern New Jersey, the draw of Second Generation his age has also been a plus. “BCs my age from all over are also in attendance, making it a great chance to fellowship and catch up with everyone.”
In New Jersey’s New Jerusalem Church, Reverend Moon spoke to the 500 who gathered, and the mother of five declared, “As the chairperson of America, I feel a heavy responsibility for the church’s future. In America, where culture has an absolute influence on people, I will make a lot of investment in the Second Generation, who have various talents and potential, in order to protect youth in America and to prepare a framework for future-oriented mission work.”
Speaking to the Second Generation, Rev. Moon stated, “You Second Generation, because of the blessing, you are each hand-crafted by God and each one of you is uniquely special.”
Santelli, who makes it a point to get involved with LLM through filming video messages every other week, shared, “I have more hope in the future of our movement. The real key for me has been seeing Preston, Ariana, and all In Jin Nim’s children in action. I always feel so much love when I am with them, and I can see how people just love being around them and thus coming to the events and LLM because they are attracted to that love. I have hope in the future of our True Family and our movement!”
After the service, Reverend Moon greets those who have come to the service and takes pictures; then she meets groups of select Second Generation. Gavin explained, “Her heart goes out to Second Generation as she wants to raise up Generation Peace through our generation. She wants to get to know them, their passions, their goals, and push them to excellence in their passions."
Young people are often invited to the New Yorker Hotel’s 30th floor for lunch and fellowship, where Reverend Moon speaks to those gathered about her vision. All who are there are then asked to stand up, give their names, and share about their homes, their passions, and their interests. Reverend Moon often gives advice to each person.
In her keynote address at her older brother Hyo Jin Moon’s one-year memorial service on March 22, 2009, Rev. Moon shared, “I am here to remind you that, in the history of religion, we are a very successful religion, if you think in terms of a founder’s lifetime. We still have the founder, and for our movement to be as big and thriving as it is, it’s a miracle in and of itself. So it’s only going to get better, and it’s only going to be more phenomenal and more powerful. There’s a whole lot of work that we can do in helping people realize how important each human life is and the wonderful opportunity that God has given us to go on this journey of creating ideal families, working toward one family under God.”
Eunha Holdhus, who frequently travels to New York to attend the LLM service, wrote in an e-mail, “I am extremely grateful for In Jin Nim taking initiative here in America. I know she has exactly what it is going to take to change the image of our movement. Because of what she is doing I have absolute hope for the future of our movement. I have absolute hope for my children's future. She is a woman of character, integrity, and poise. I am proud to support her and be a part of what she is doing.”
Many other Second Generation echoed similar sentiments. Kono said, “I'm excited about the direction that In Jin Nim is headed towards, I hope to be able to support her more in the future.”
On her listening tour, Rev. Moon stated, “I feel that my biggest responsibility is to approach from a mother’s perspective. True Father hearkened in the Pacific Rim Era and said this is a time for the women to take on the leadership, to bring a world of peace. And for me, as a student of religion, it’s been an incredibly awesome proclamation because 6,000 years of biblical history have not been kind to women. In the process of restoring the position of Eve, it took many thousands of years, many heartaches, and many sacrifices. Truly it is in the personage of True Mother -- her constant devotion, dedication, and sacrifice in playing the role of bride and true mother -- that I have this opportunity to play the role that I am doing now.”
Written by Harumi Kawamura