The Words of the Schanker Family
Seung Hwa Ceremony for Mrs. Hyeshik Schanker - Report and Reflection
October 20, 2007
President of FFWPU USA
We have received word from Dr. Yang that Father spoke about Mrs. Hyeshik Schanker this past week and that, as we had believed, her passing had a providential meaning. Father said that she, along with an important Ambassador for Peace from the United Kingdom, were called upon by God to make an offering at this time in history for the launch of the Abel U.N.
The love that was established by Reverend and Mrs. Schanker and their four children, together with this providential calling, made the experience of Mrs. Schanker's Seung Hwa ceremony on October 11, 2007, at the national cathedral of the Family Church of America in Washington, D.C., one of the most uplifting and deeply edifying experiences of the meaning of the Blessing and eternal life that I have ever witnessed.
The experience of love as the family gathered around Mrs. Schanker just before the service as Dr. Yang, our continental director prayed was the internal beginning of this beautiful transition process. Mrs. Caroline Betancourt, Vice President of WFWP USA, was the master of ceremonies. The service began with "Song of the Garden." Rev. Randall Francis, District Director, gave a beautiful invocation, and the scripture reading from I Cor. 15-45-49 was read by New England District Director Rev. Richard Buessing. Mrs. Alexa Ward, President of the WFWP-USA, read Mrs. Schanker's beautiful biography, which was then translated into Korean by Mrs. Sook-il Seipp.
It is meaningful that Mrs. Schanker was born in Byeong Cheon city in southern Choon-nam province in Korea, the birthplace of Yoo Gwan Soon, the Korean patriot who was martyred as a schoolgirl during the independence movement of 1919. From the moment we heard that such a significant person came from her birthplace, we couldn't help but feel that somehow she was chosen to walk this path of sacrifice as a patriot of Cheon Il Guk and a saint for all humanity.
The testimonies shared throughout the service confirmed this. Mrs. Schanker was single-minded, absolutely pure, and totally dedicated to God, True Parents, her family, and all brothers and sisters. She did so much to teach Korean to many members of the community.
Though family members usually have a limited role in the home-going transition service of their loved ones, this day was different. B. Schanker, the eldest son and second child of the Schanker family, sang a beautiful song he had written for his mother. Though he struggled to overcome the tears and sadness, B. expressed his own and his brothers' and sister's immense love for their mother. Called "Pardon the Fear," it conveyed the children's hope to live up to their mother's standard and desire for them: "And all her selfless ways of doing everything for another; I can't but be afraid to lose her& I hope I have become what you find endearing. Please pardon my fears."
I was asked to give a message as president of the FFWPU-USA. Even as I write this, I come to tears again over what I saw in the Schanker family during the course of this trial. As I wrote in earlier messages, I've never been so moved as when I saw Reverend Schanker as a true husband and true father unifying his children to give absolute support and inspiration to their mother when she was struck by the illness that would eventually be the cause of her transition.
Surrounding her hospital bed in the ICU, they were singing songs and encouraging their Omma to continue to be strong. The doctors indicated that Mrs. Schanker could hear everything they said, though her illness prevented her giving any response other than opening her eyes.
M., precious daughter and eldest child, immediately gave up her studies for a semester to be at her mother's bedside 24 hours a day. The warmth and love with which Reverend Schanker received Dr. Yang and me, and his absolute trust in God, with an incredible heart of gratitude for whatever journey God had prescribed for him and his family -- there was no wavering or doubt about his faith but only a clear, compassionate, loving resolve to give everything for True Parents and for his wife and children's mother, to give her the best possible opportunity to recover. Those two memories for me immediately cause me to shed tears.
They are a representative family from our national headquarters, and they elevate the dignity, honor, and meaning of being a Blessed Central Family. It could be said that they all made the transition together as they came together with one heart.
I called on Dr. Tyler Hendricks, president of Unification Theological Seminary, to read a letter from Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, International President of FFWPU. Reverend Kwak wrote,
"Hyeshik is a great example for all women, for more than anything she devoted herself to the attendance of True Parents and True Family, and to fulfilling the four great realms of heart. As a Korean, she devoted herself to America. We can say that she gave her life for America& Just as she so often attended True Parents and True Family& she will continue that same standard of attendance in the spiritual world& [where] she will be a source of inspiration and support."
Then I myself read a letter from Jerusalem from Prof. Eliezer Glaubach, chairman of the Foerder Institute. I testified to the love I experienced with the Schanker family, and also read True Father's words from the Cheon Seong Gyeong about how each and every person must get three certificates to successfully pass into the heavenly realm. These have to be secured on three levels, including Jesus' approval and God's approval. True Father proclaimed upon hearing of Mrs. Schanker's passing that she had successfully passed into the highest realm with total safety and security.
Our sister Hyeshik gained Jesus' support and approval because she came from Korea and gave her life for America, marrying an American and creating an American family. She loved Christianity, and she loved America. Therefore, she goes to the spirit world with Jesus' love and approval. She received God's approval because of her Blessing, having successfully grafted into the lineage of heaven.
It was so evident during the 33 days of her illness, and at the ceremony, that the four realms of heart -- parental love, conjugal love, siblings' love, and children's love -- have all been established in the Schanker family.
Though tears were flowing and we could not help feeling sad at her passing, we also felt joy and happiness over the victorious life she lived. I concluded with an overwhelming sense of the true value and meaning of our lives because flesh and blood will not remain.
At the time when we cross the bridge over into the next world, we will realize that the only thing that is truly substantial and real is the true love that we have established within our family. True love is substantial and eternal, and in time only grows in beauty. The most important element of God's and True Parents' tradition was substantially revealed through Mrs. Schanker's Seung Hwa, and that was that the Schanker family had created the bond of true love, and therefore they will never separate. I walked over to Reverend Schanker and gave him Rev. Kwak's letter, and in tears we embraced and said to each other, I love you.
Then Archbishop George Stallings, co-president of the ACLC, came forward and testified to Reverend Schanker and the central role he has played with the Christian clergy of the ACLC as well as with our work in the Middle East, and also for him personally as a Blessed Central Family. He shared that Rev. Schanker has touched his life so deeply with God's love and truth, and strengthened him on this path. Testifying to the genuine, eternal love he saw in this family, he assured Reverend Schanker it would of course go on forever. "You are not a widower," he noted.
Mrs. Yoshimi Kadota, who lived with the Schankers when they pastored the Washington Family Church, gave a musical offering. Her rich operatic voice resonated with the beautiful Korean lyric song, "Kagopa."
The Seung Hwa address was given by Dr. Yang, continental director of FFWPU-USA. He spoke in Korean for the benefit of many Korean members who had come from out of town, making it something the entire Korean movement can really appreciate and benefit from, in the native language of our True Parents. The historic record of this transition will be forever held in the highest place of the Blessed Central Family tradition. Mr. Tim Elder translated, giving a beautiful and complete summary of Dr. Yang's address.
Dr. Yang spoke of Mrs. Schanker's incredible purity and attitude of service to True Parents. She had always worked night and day when they came to Washington, preparing and serving meals and helping with arrangements for True Parents to really be welcomed on their many visits.
There were humorous moments when Dr. Yang talked about her single-minded and uncompromising nature, especially when it came to caring for True Parents. She would approach him about something she wanted to have happen that she felt would be better. First, she would call; then, she would call twice more. Then she would write him a letter; then she would call again, then find out where he was and arrive to speak to him directly. With the congregation sharing tears and laughter at the same time, he said what many who knew Mrs. Schanker also experienced, "There was no escape. I had to surrender." But the time she was most single-minded was when she was trying to help God and True Parents.
Dr. Yang also shared that such important people working on the national level never make such a crucial transition by chance or coincidence. The time was right, and she had been chosen. The way she became ill and spent 33 days before the transition was in many ways difficult but also was a blessing because it meant that the family had time to adjust to what was to come.
They had time to express to their mother their profound attitude of love and heart. We were amazed to learn that Mrs. Schanker had just completed nearly 40 chapters of her testimony for a Korean website for Blessed Families, sending the final chapter just one week before she was struck down. These are now being translated into English and will be published in book form soon. The final chapter, which sounds almost like a farewell message, was read during the ceremony.
Next was a video presentation prepared by Joshua Schanker and Will Stein, titled "A Life of Love." Again the tears flowed in the congregation that had jam-packed our national church. Images of the Schanker family were so beautiful, from the time of their Blessing, when they were in their 20s and not much older than their children are now.
How beautiful they are together. To watch their family life move forward from the Blessing through times with True Parents, with brothers and sisters, doing church work, the birth of their children, celebrating birthdays, walking the journey of life together -- how beautiful is the Blessed Family of God, watching the children grow up through this presentation, graduating from high school, then going to college, seeing their amazing life unfold. As we shed tears, we also felt a sense of how beautiful their family life is, and how wonderful that they could present it through pictures and music.
The music chosen as the background also brought tears. "Fields of Gold," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "You Raise Me Up" and other songs made us all feel pure and innocent before God. We have been going through our lives as Blessed Central Families with such intensity, trying to fulfill our responsibilities to bless our communities, strengthen their families, and save the nation and the world. But often we don't realize how precious each and every moment with our family is, how important our time together is.
Testimonies came from Mrs. Choon Boon Morton, Mrs. Betsy Bonini, Mrs. Sheila (Song) Hrysyuk, Mrs. Nohsook Elder, and M. Schanker.
M. spoke with tears about her mother's nature of love and heart, and how she raised the children with a strong sense of identity and total focus. M.'s testimony should be broadcast to the whole world. She testified how her mother taught her to cook and prepared her for her own family life with her husband, Chris Stein.
M. testified about her brothers, how much they loved their mother, and about her father. She told about how her mother's all-consuming focus was on what was good and right, so much so that even when M. felt she had other things to focus on, when her mother asked for her support, she could not resist. M. demonstrated what it means to have filial piety.
As M. and B. stood with their spouses, together with David and Josh, we could feel there is hope because the lineage of heaven has been established and the family will expand and grow.
The service concluded with a song by Reverend Schanker, "How Can I Tell You That I Love You?" We will never forget that beautiful moment when our true brother, true husband of Hyeshik, sang this beautiful song for her at her transition. We were moved by the heart of this moment. He then took a moment to testify that he felt God's hand upon him and his family every step of the way and how grateful he is. "I am the luckiest man," he shared.
Then the immediate family, local and national leadership offered flowers. We sang "Shining Fatherland" together, and Dr. Yang gave the benediction.
Pallbearers came forward, including key leaders, along with Dr. Yang, for Mrs. Schanker's service had come to a close and we made the journey to the Won Jeon for the final dedication and prayer, and a message by Rev. Levy Daugherty.
Hyeshik Schanker's Last Testimony
Published on Korean Website on August 29, 2007
Translated by Choon Boon Morton, who read it at Hyeshik's Seung Hwa ceremony on October 11, 2007
Ah U Ne, Byeong Cheon Myeon, Cheonan City, Southern Choong Chung Province. That was the place of my birth.
When the Shepherd's Purse and fresh green lettuce sprang forth from the earth in the early spring,
In my white starched-collar uniform I entered Ah U Ne middle school.
Ah U Ne junior high was founded by Principal Nam Ung Kim, of the Andong Kim clan, which was my ancestor Kim's clan.
It was 1969 when I joined the Unification Church, and I was only 16!
I didn't know what God's will was then, but already 38 years have passed. How time flies.
Sometimes I look back and feel I miss that nice-looking young girl.
But now I have the great gift of the title "Blessed Central Family." I know I am truly blessed!
With sincere and earnest heart I tried to follow God's will, but I can't hide my shame that I didn't do enough.
The precious time as a Seong Hwa student, the time of attendance for True Parents, my time of pioneering, and later the mobilization -- these were the most precious moments!
As I think back on these difficult times, they have become the most valuable and precious food for my soul.
To be honest, I know that God uses people with shortcomings, and our Father makes the weak into strong people.
Following God's will, I have received many blessings and grace, and I learned how to be grateful.
And I know I have received far more than I expected:
That my children are good students, and I am a school principal&
Especially the survival and strong health of my husband, after his life-and-death fight with cancer,
And that he works so hard in a public mission is the grace and blessing of our Father&
More than anything, living with such blessings and grace, this is the time of my happiness.
We received an international Blessing in 1982. This is the 30th anniversary of our matching and 25th (silver) anniversary of our Marriage Blessing.
During our life together, we gave birth to one daughter who is internally and externally beautiful, as well as three strong and solid sons. And we have received the gifts of a handsome son-in-law and beautiful daughter-in-law.
What greater blessing can you find than this! We are deeply grateful to God and True Parents for this amazing grace.
And we thank our brothers and sisters and everyone who took care of our family over the years.
AbeoJi, Oeg ManSae!