The Words of the Rapkins Family
We've really enjoyed preparing this report for our family around the world and trying to communicate to you our activities, experiences, thoughts, feelings, and hopes as we work to build Father's new world. I got to thinking about the "early days" in Canada. Can it, indeed, be two years since Miss Kim said, "We should send someone to Canada. Who is free for the summer? Marie? Linna?" Marie Ang (now at Berkeley, California) and I were school teachers who had the summer free and two months later (June, 1968), we found ourselves walking the streets of Toronto in search of Father's Canadian children.
Ninety days later we returned to Washington, bringing Kathy Bell with us, and were met at the door by Vince Walsh, who had arrived in Washington a month earlier. Vince, a Newfoundlander, had been hitchhiking across the country and down into the States and he stopped in Toronto long enough for us to meet him in a park. He intended to go west but no one would give him a ride and after a long day on the road, he has hardly even outside Canada. The minute he changed his mind and decided to go to Washington, the cars began stopping and he was whisked t, the very doorsteps of 1611 Upshur, our Center in Washington. What could he do but join?
Kathy is a high school secretary, but has a BA in Fine Arts and Classics. She was sitting on a park bench reading Teilhard de Chardin, so we introduced ourselves and Principle.
Vince, Kathy and I returned to Toronto to establish a permanent Center. A three bedroom flat served the purpose for ten months. Alan, the handiest of our handymen, joined us that Fall, but had to go home to Liverpool, England for six months. He had left home and school a couple years earlier and was travelling around the country, living the life of a hippie. He is now finishing his high school courses and working part time.
Last Spring, Carl joined us, Alan returned, and our three little bedrooms were overflowing at last. That's when we moved to this house. Three people who joined dropped out during the year, but Marvi Rannistee, Bob Duffy, and Matt Smith filled the vacancies. Marvi's brother-in-law was handed a pamphlet and promptly passed it on to Marvi who, according to him, was "crazy enough to go for something like this" and, sure enough, she did. She called us had how lends a very sunny presence to the Family.
Then Bob Duffy arrived from London, returning to his native soil after two years with the London Unified Family Center. He and his guitar were heartily and gratefully welcomed. For the time being he is a shoe salesman, but he hopes to go to university soon.
Matt Smith is our eighth member. A writer and business man, he was first attracted by Arthur Ford's book. He doesn't live with us, but we sometimes go out to his country home to teach Principle or just soak in the clean country air.
So that's our history; now for the present. As spring unfolds (or tries to; it's a long labor this year) our hopes soar as we conjure up visions of parks and sun.... The writer was long and cold. Response declined considerably and we were kicked out of some of our favorite warm witnessing spots, so we launched a forty day attack to try to may more headway for Father. Things picked up through our posters and pamphlets, both old and new; ads in the underground papers asking "Did Sun Myung Moon open the Age of Aquarius?" and ads in the university paper announcing "Christian-I Ching." We put ourselves on the Rochdale firing line, started the Thursday night "Inter-religions Prayer Experience" and "infiltrated" Sunday Schools. Then we were invited to speak at a Yoga Forum, where Bob Duffy gave a speech on the Unified Family to a group of about twenty-five people. On April first we had an Open House. Around fifteen old and new friends appeared for a relaxing evening of talk, song, and pizza. It was most refreshing to be free of the usual format and we could see great value in something of this sort, where people can come and learn to know us informally, and, hopefully, will want to return for the lectures. So far, four have returned.
It's been a busy time. I just wish we could announce a new brother.... a new sister... three new brothers... seven new sisters... But evidently more indemnity and greater sacrifice is yet required. I'm sure Father has done more than 95% in bringing even this many people here. We talk to hundreds in order to find just one, while Father talked to thousands and He didn't have anyone to comfort and encourage Him. He just goes on doing so much for us, whether we deserve it or not.
I hope we can soon be responsible enough to take his burden more fully upon ourselves and respond to Him in true joy and gratitude.
Life at the Unified Family Center in Toronto, Canada is hectic. Not a moment is wasted as we push through the weeks and months. And when we hit stormy waters, we try to plough on ahead, leaving the tears and complaints far behind us. Days slip by when we scarcely get time to realize what we've done that day. Sometimes looking back, it seems as if a dream has taken hold of us, a journey to a distant country. Hardships and obstacles clog the path, but with determination and perseverance we shall overcome all difficulties.
When we offer Principle to a fellow human, we are offering him a cross to bear, a burden to carry for God. If he accepts the offer, he receives inner peace and strength to help him bear the burden. Let us remember that our lives in Principle are offerings to God who has borne our grief and comforted man through the centuries; at the same time, the joys and blessings of Father's love are infinite.
In each different season, we emphasize different aspects of witnessing, because of the variation in climate. In the autumn we tried to reach university students and to find a new member on campus. The long, cold, snowy winter drove us indoors to witness in shopping plazas, restaurants and involve ourselves more in church discussion group. We also began a lecture series at Rochdale college, a local hippie apartment house. Also we organized a prayer meeting for the public here at the Center.
The spring should find us swarming the parks, talking to people in the streets, and witnessing on Toronto Center Island Park. The main thing is that we find new members for Father.
I suppose our schedule is somewhat the same as in other Centers. We teach Chapter 1 on Wednesdays at 8:00 p. m. and Sunday afternoon at three. Sunday starts with our 5:00 a.m. prayer and rededication service. We used to have our own regular worship service at 9:45 but in the past couple of months we have pushed it ahead to 1:00 p.m. so that we could get to Sunday School or pre-church discussions at 10:00. Each of us choose a church and try to meet people who are in the Bible Study group who are perhaps open to new truth. By hearing them express themselves we can more easily tell who are prepared and we also learn what Christians are thinking today. Then after church we easily get into conversation with them and invite them to our discussion group.
Sometimes there are coffee hours after church. This gives us a chance to meet people too. At one o'clock we have our own worship service here and at three o'clock people come for lectures. Evenings are filled with witnessing at church groups, campuses and streets.
Monday night we go out witnessing to various Places. Tuesdays, we have been giving an introduction and Chapter 1 to people (mostly hippies) at Rochdale. Wednesdays we have our lectures in the evening, not usually the turn out at the Sunday meeting is better. We try to schedule others who are hearing more to come on Wednesdays so that the group looks bigger to newcomers. We have tried to start a prayer group on Thursday nights because of the response to an advertisement Alan put in the paper seeking a prayer group. We advertise it in three daily papers twice a week as an "inter-religious Prayer Experience for Young Adults." As a result a number of people have phoned and a few have come. A couple of people have asked whether we do any corporal punishment such as whipping each other at these meetings. Apparently they have met with group of this nature.
Fridays are witnessing nights, although some of us have to work late. We sometimes do interesting variations on a Friday evening. For instance Marvi sometimes goes to a, family prayer night at a local church, while others go to coffee house or apartment house to witness.
Saturday is everyone's clean up and grocery day. Breakfast at eight, then outcome the pails, bleach, mops and brushes as a crew of 4 assails the house, inside and out. Meanwhile, Linna is shopping for groceries and Marvi and I are, unfortunately, at work. Later on in the day they go witnessing and laundering, etc., getting all the odd jobs done that they've put off during the week. After witnessing in the evening we come home to baths and showers, then off to bed straight after prayer, for a new week begins at five o'clock the next morning.
Carl Rapkins witnesses on the street
During our forty day campaign, we concentrated on an eighteen story pile of concrete and glass known as Rochdale College, a residence and learning environment for Toronto's moribund radicals. Actually, it can't properly be called a "college," as it is not accredited nor even generally taken seriously. But it does offer courses in ceramics, Zen, poetry, etc. It's also a big Satanic stronghold.
To the above subjects of learning, the Unified Family added "Christian-I Ching" -- or, in other words, us. We chose this name to indicate the universal nature of the Principle and to capitalize on current interest in the occult. Some people questioned the wisdom of trying to combine Christianity and the I Ching; so we had to explain that we were simply taking what is valid in both, with the Principle being the criterion. After registering the class, our next move was to cajole them into granting free space in a huge second-floor lounge. We then hung up a gigantic sign in the window; it was twenty feet long and clearly visible across the street.
Wondering WHAT the "Christian-I Ching" was, twenty- five curious Rochdaleans drifted in for the initial confrontation. Everyone squatted or sprawled on the cigarette-scarred rug, and obscenities (good natured, if that helped any) flowed freely; someone named Dirty Dan announced he was God, Satan, and Jesus. As if in answer, Kathy politely stifled a small yawn. Dirty Dan looked disappointed. Well, at least he came back not many others did.
There were several meetings after the first session and attendance for Chapter one varied from three to sixteen. Only the first chapter was taught at Rochdale, as we wanted them to come over to our regular meetings for the second chapter. On the nights that we held the meetings, we put up a table in the lobby. Occasionally someone took a pamphlet, an Arthur Ford book, or one of the excerpts from Chapter one lying on the table.
Sometimes this lobby furniture worked out well. Recently we got free publicity on a popular FM radio station through our presence behind the table. A disc jockey on a program carried by this station saw us and came over to talk. Several people came from his very helpful plugs.
Has everyone been so helpful? Unfortunately, no. After our first two meeting, the rental office people moved us to a smaller room, choked with litter, and charged us five dollars a week; however, we had been told in the beginning that the free accommodations were only for a temporary period, so we couldn't gripe too much.
This whole experience at The Radical Fortress was good stimulation, good education, good training in verbal rough-and- tumble, good publicity, and just plain good experience. If you have similar opportunities in your city, we suggest you look into them.