The Words of the Schanker Family

STF/ATF Leadership / Should We Mourn?

Phillip Schanker
September 3, 2002

Dear brothers and sisters,

I have just returned from Charlotte, NC, where I spent Thursday thru Saturday supporting Jin Joo's team through their ordeal, working with the police and media, receiving and assisting Martin and Isabela Byrne and helping with the practical arrangements for Jin Joo. On Sunday and Monday I joined CARP and STF leadership in Washington to welcome the entire membership of the STF program for healing, counseling, memorializing and testifying to Jin Joo, as well as initial meetings to analyze every aspect of the STF standards and procedures that either failed or were insufficient to prevent this tragedy from occurring. We have been poring over Email suggestions and concerns from parents, as well as meeting with the STF parents association and a number of parents themselves, in a serious and detailed process that will result in serious changes. In the process, I have witnessed the heart and response of True Parents and Hyun Jin Nim, as well as the leadership responsible in this situation, and learned much from the guidance of True Family.

Today we prepared the spiritual and practical details for Jin Joo's Seung Hwa (harmonious ascension), and tomorrow we will lift her up and send her with our love and prayers. I am trying desperately to catch up with Email and send out a report of the things I experienced and shared through this process. I have begun to read with interest the thoughts, suggestions and insights of so many members. But there are serious misperceptions flying around, particularly about the idea of arrogance, negligence, ego and a lack of moral courage among STF and church leaders, and so much more. Please be patient until tomorrow night, after Jin Joo's ascension and homegoing, and I will begin to share details about what happened and why. But be assured that everyone at every level of leadership acknowledges that this tragedy could have been avoided. Some have read into newspaper snippets of my comments that I and other leaders are denying responsibility. This is not true. As we go about the difficult and sensitive task of mourning a tragic loss of an innocent child, finding meaning in her sacrifice so we can lift her up and liberate her (thanks to True Family, her parents, and many others), and doing the serious work to analyze what went wrong and how to determine that such a loss never happens again. Martin and Isabela Byrne have been amazing, and have challenged successively the Charlotte, NC community, the STF members and a group of concerned and distraught parents, asking: "Please help us to make meaning of this tragic and unbearable loss... don't let this life be wasted. Anger or bitterness does not help Jin Joo, and we feel none (so far). We don't need your sympathy, but your strength and determination." More to come...

Phillip D. Schanker

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