The Words of the Sabourin Family
NJ Family Church holds 3rd Annual IL SHIM Ceremony
On Sunday, April 8th, the New Jersey Family Church conducted its third annual IL SHIM Ceremony. Even though it was raining outside, inside the atmosphere was bright and cheerful as 37 blessed children recited their IL SHIM vows and received their purity rings. This ceremony brought to a conclusion over three months of preparation and study that began with the Winter Retreat at Barrytown last December. In order to participate in this ceremony, each candidate had to:
Attend a 2-day Divine Principle workshop (Winter Retreat). Offer a 1 or 2 meal fasting condition as part of a confession/repentance condition. Attend five 2-hour preparatory classes. Complete 4 homework assignments and keep a journal where answers to homework questions and lecture notes were recorded. Complete three 2-hour service projects: • One for their family • One for the church • One for the community. Participate in a family prayer condition for one week prior to the ceremony. Offer a $40 donation from their own money
The Il Shim Ceremony was initially conceived to serve several purposes, some of which are listed below. These are not necessarily the only purposes, but rather only those that we have identified to date and which seem of most importance.
• Coming of age—to recognize children who are moving from adolescence to teen years (into puberty) as graduating from one level and moving into the next. The significance of this transition is also connected with coming into a new level of personal relationship with God and True Parents; that God wishes to relate to them in more of an adult fashion, and that they are approaching the top of the growth stage in their personal spiritual development and therefore are now expected to begin to take more responsibility for their spiritual life.
• Rite of passage—to signify that children who are participating in this ceremony have accomplished certain conditions of faith (see above) and have committed themselves to certain ideals—such as purity and a commitment to receive the Blessing from True Parents or True Parents’ representative.
• Inheritance of tradition—to signify that as blessed children, they have received the grace of being "freed from original sin" as a result of the conditions made by True Parents and their own parents. As such they stand in a "position of grace" and therefore have a responsibility to maintain this position by keeping the tradition of faith in service to their parents, their church and community, to True Parents and to God. This ceremony signifies their personal commitment to continue this tradition.
• New Beginning—to signify that through participation in this ceremony these children graduate into a new level of life in relation to God, True Parents, their family and church community. They now have more responsibility to set a good example for other children and show the proper standard of behavior in relation to personal and public life. Hence, by participating in this ceremony, the children should also pledge that from this day forward they would maintain all the conditions of the IL Shim Ceremony Pledge and take a more active role in their personal spiritual growth by committing to faith-building activities with their parents and offered through the youth ministry of their church.
IL Shim is a Korean term that means "one heart" or "one heart and mind". This term was chosen for this ceremony because it’s implications for intergenerational unity and inheritance. True Parents conducted a similar ceremony called "IL SEUNG IL" or "Day of One Victory" (1985.8.20) centered upon Hyo Jin Nim and the second generation after True Father’s release from Danbury. In that ceremony, True Parents declared the beginning of the period of responsibility for the second generation. Four years later, True Parents also conducted an "IL SHIM" ceremony (1989.6.23) to proclaim the total unity between Heavenly Father and True Parents and the inheritance of this unity by the children. This ceremony was conducted on the occasion of True Father’s elevation and recognition as head of all Korean tribes and clans. At that ceremony, Father said that as children, we must completely remove ourselves from Satan’s influence. Father conducted the IL SHIM ceremony at that time to confirm our inheritance of this special status. Hence, we chose to use the term IL SHIM due to its having been already used in True Parents family, and because it seems to be the most appropriate term for our purpose.
Since the creation of this ceremony, True Parents have been informed of its purpose and content and have given it their complete blessing. In fact, after Rev. Yang and Rev. Hong reported to True Parents, Father instructed Rev. Yang to expand this ceremony to all the regions and even overseas. Since then, Rev. Yang has recommended that all regional leaders in the United States conduct an IL Shim ceremony on an annual basis for their middle school children. In addition, I have received requests from Europe, Japan, Korea, and South America for information about how to conduct the IL Shim Ceremony.
In conclusion I feel it is important to point out that the IL SHIM Ceremony is only a ceremony. It cannot take the place of consistent daily investment on the part of parents. No ceremony can. But I believe the IL SHIM Ceremony can help and support parents in their primary role as their children’s religious educators by giving their children an additional means of faith development. In a world where we have to constantly compete for the attention of our kids (verses television, computers, school, etc.), programs like the IL SHIM Ceremony can provide a level of professionalism and communal experience that cannot be duplicated within the family unit alone. When we began this year’s ceremony preparation, I told the kids that the IL SHIM Ceremony cannot give you something that you do not already have. Rather, it seeks to reinforce and strengthen your understanding and appreciation for what you have already received by birth, and to support and encourage you to begin living your faith in a new and more public way. Yes, the IL SHIM Ceremony is only a ceremony, but I think that it enabled our kids to begin seeing and experiencing their faith tradition in a new and more personal way; a way in which they are no longer just participating in "their parents church", but where they are inheriting and taking ownership of "their own church".
Rev. Brian Sabourin serves as Youth Pastor in Region #3 and oversees the Youth Ministry programs for the NJ Family Church located in Clifton, NJ. If you are interested in obtaining more information about the IL SHIM Ceremony, please feel free to contact Rev. Sabourin at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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