The Words of the Schanker Family

The Family Matching System

Philip Schanker
February 24, 2013
Blessed Family Ministry

Good morning, brothers and sisters. Recently, the international headquarters provided us with some very profound questions, really excellent questions that get at the heart of the system, what works and what doesn't work. The only challenge is that if we deal with all of those questions, we'll have the same experience as we had in the last session, and we won't get to your questions.

So, I ask that at some point to just open this up to your questions so you may have a chance to participate.

I know that many great efforts are being made to develop a healthy and good matching system. In Korea -- and I know Japan has a very well-developed system that reflects the Japanese culture and the Japanese church culture. We have found that with the system that we've worked on for the last three years -- which is a very short time -- better than 95 percent of the matchings that are being made are not breaking. Now, you might say that such a thing is just "impossible," but I want to explain to you why it has been so successful. It's not simply horizontal; it's not simply letting kids decide themselves. We'd like to share with you what has made this work.

In 2001 True Parents bequeathed the responsibility to parents to match their/our children. The challenge has been to develop a healthy matching tradition that's not relying on the spiritual authority and power of True Father's matching ability but a tradition of the parents, which is the original tradition.

In 1986, when Father matched the first second generation members, he said to them, "Your parents are the ones who are supposed to be doing this, but I didn't train them yet, I didn't educate them yet. Ultimately, it's their responsibility."

We know in Cheon Il Guk, it's not a distant authority that should be matching our children; in Cheon it Guk it's about a loving relationship with parents, a loving family relationship that calls us to support our sons and daughters to find their eternal partner. So our challenge is a matching tradition that empowers parents, gives us confidence. Many are confused, are not sure. Others are marching forward without knowing where their children are at. We are looking for what prepares candidates well, that builds strong, lasting, and successful couples, but of course bequeaths the vertical tradition and standard of our True Parents.

Now, in your books we included some of the statistics in the United States. We're not talking about those statistics because the issue is not how many blessed children we have; the issue is world-wide. The reality is that since that time we've had many successes, but in our older nations, a very small percentage of blessed children are interested in the church or the matching. For many, it is because they were hurt or disappointed by the matching process. When I say, "too few," this is not my idea; this is what True Mother said very clearly: "Where are our blessed children?" She called out a number that was so small we should all be concerned.

Also, we have experienced too many failed matching efforts. I've heard from some of our participants how your sons or daughters were alienated by the matching process that didn't work. Too many parents are hesitant and unsure how to match, while some are marching forward absolutely to match without knowing their children's mind or preparation. Too many elder blessed children are losing confidence in the matching process, and they find disappointment and hurt among the blessed children from a "failed" matching process. But these "failed" matchings do provide us with the information we need to help guide us on how to do a better job the next time.

And for our first generation, to the best of our knowledge, until this time more than half of the matches suggested by our leadership failed. That's our reality in the world.

Today most of our blessed children are eighteen years old and younger, so this is an important opportunity to learn and improve, not just from what is working but also from what didn't work. Most of our system was developed from what didn't work. Most of our system developed from people who were hurt, or from things that didn't go well, from families that didn't communicate or parents and children who weren't on the same page.

In 2009 our international president introduced new matching guidelines. He said we needed a "paradigm shift," that we needed to move from the matching system used when we were in "the age of the wilderness," from the age of restoration through indemnity, where the focus was "providential blessings" or "spiritual conditions" to advance the providence. True Parents would match, and then Father bequeathed that responsibility to leaders for the first generation, and then to parents for the second generation.

But in the past, often we blessed people first, and then educated them later. We would get notice of a blessing event happening in three weeks, so we would rush to prepare candidates. As parents we found ourselves idealistic but unprepared. What Hyung Jin Nim said was that there came to be a "disassociation," a separation between the beautiful ideal of the blessing and the struggles that were happening among matched and blessed couples. Therefore, he called for a paradigm shift for this age after the coming of heaven, where True Parents would continue to match based on the Cheon it Guk standard, to re-create the original standard, but that our leaders were not qualified to match absolutely, to say, "this is the person whom you should be blessed with," but that we who did not the True Parents' qualification would only serve in the role of supporters, guides, advisors, and that we needed therefore to prepare candidates more carefully: to educate first, and then bless.

Thus, we were to strengthen our qualifications, to educate young people in character and faith, and personal preparation, and make a better management system. Based on these guidelines, we set out to develop a system in the United States. From Hyung Jin Nim's international guidelines, several important policies emerged. First, that the process should be absolutely parent-centered, while at the same time the candidates input should absolutely be respected -- their idea, their priority, their preference, even their suggestion (of a particular person) could be offered in the process.

Also, when the matching process became serious toward one candidate, we should pursue only one family at a time, not shopping around to compare. We are creating the conditions for God to guide the process. Also, because so many were jumping into the process -- we would see our children going in the wrong direction, and we might panic, oh, we had better match them quickly!

So parents would rush ahead to match often when candidates were not qualified. Parents were discussing when their sons or daughters had secret boyfriends or were not interested in the blessing -- those kinds of things. So, Hyung Jin Nim suggested clear stages for the matching process, careful preparation, and a clear process for developing the candidate, and also for the couples' ownership of the final matching decision.

It could be absolutely vertical, if they trust their parents 100 percent, and if they want to embrace their parents' recommendation, that's my choice, but the couple needed the final ownership. Also, there needs to be honesty and full disclosure among the families of the situation of every candidate. The parents and the families would accept ownership of the entire process.

Most important to us, Hyung Jin Nim asked that every nation and every region train and certify matching advisors to help and support this process. We were not going to continue with the system of one or two "spiritual people" who would make all the decisions, but rather that there be a process where God could work through the hearts of parents, the unity of the couples, the parent-child relationship, and family to family cooperation.

With those guidelines in mind, I am going to briefly reintroduce to you the elements that we have developed and what the process looks like, then we're going to open up the floor for a panel discussion.

The developments we focused on were:

1. The Family Matching Handbook -- originally this handbook began as a training manual for matching advisors. We wanted to guide our advisors and train them. We then realized that every parent and child needs this guidance. Everyone needs these examples. Up until that time, every matching guidebook that had been made was beautiful yet their focus was spiritual guidance added to the heart tradition, Father's mind-set, all very important points -- and they are the core (of our beliefs) -- but this particular handbook is a practical step-by-step how-to manual. It focuses on being a step-by-step process. We do not consider it as "rules," and we do not demand that any parents follow this process. Parents are the owners of the process that they decide to follow. These are recommendations and guidelines. All these have been developed based on painful experiences that have hurt our children, which we are seeking to prevent in the future.

2. From that, we have developed an outline which we are already using for first-generation members, an Unificationist Matching Handbook, which we won't spend much time on this morning.

3. Also, we've trained more than one hundred matching advisors around the United States and now internationally on our webinars, conference calls and our networking meetings. We've got participants from fifty or sixty countries. All of our matching advisors are available on our Blessed Family website; they are available at our matching sites, "Matchbook," and our parents' association, Blessed Family Association, also is very active in supporting the matching advisors.

4. The initial training for matching advisors is now available online, and also may be gotten by DVD. We have advanced training webinars, four times a year that are joined by participants all over the world. We also, in line with Hyung Jin Nim's direction, have made better preparation and developed three different levels of blessing education. The first level is for those who are sixteen years old and above. This does focus on the ideal of the blessing, but it also emphasizes character development, personal preparation. "Before I find the right the person how can I become the right person? What are my social skills? What are my life goals? Where do I want to be as an individual before I enter a marriage relationship?"

5. The second level -- Becoming an Ideal Partner -- is for those eighteen and above. That's where we talk more deeply about value of lineage, the meaning of the blessing, restoration, and we introduce the matching process: parent–child unity, making a family plan, and all of the aspects that will guide them through the process.

6. The third level is the "Start Smart" workshop for couples. It's for all matched couples. In this both the first and second generation couples participate together. There, we focus on relationship guidance and also preparation for blessed family life, for absolute sexual oneness, and for the first night, how to begin their marriage in a healthy way.

Each program balances the vertical theological aspect and the practical relationship aspect. We are developing them into workshop manuals, small group manuals, and we will have an online version within a year or two.

We've also developed the first online application system. If you've ever seen college applications online, or financial aid applications online in the United States, the entire system is accessible, and it is secure. Each region or district manages their own candidates. It is entirely online.

Tim Elder was master of ceremonies for a session at Yongpyong Resort when Il Hwa CEO Seong Gyun Lee spoke to national leaders about the new Il Hwa factory that the leaders had toured shortly before the building's grand opening.

We also, together with Europe, Japan, South America and Asia, now have parent matching convocations. These are very healthy and helpful programs that bring parents together to learn about the process, to connect with each other and to consider candidates. There is a wonderful, holy, display room. Candidates can only be displayed in that display room with their own permission. Children candidates don't want their parents going around displaying their children like a "meat market." Candidates need to want to be there! They need to complete all their profile information themselves. That room is beautiful, it's tearful, and it's prayerful. It's a lovely process as parents meet and consider and discuss. Now, please understand that these are not matching meetings. No matchings are concluded in a weekend. It is for education, for parents to learn about the process. We encourage that parents attend as a couple, that they discuss and communicate and get on the same page. A lot of times dad wants this, mom wants that, and the child wants something else. It's important to get on the same page and make a plan. It is also an opportunity to network and consider possible candidates.

We also work with websites. Of course, the entire movement works with the International Matching Website for Blessed Children. We network and display candidates at different countries' convocations. But, in the United States, we also have a very active parents' association. That parents' association is the Blessed Family Association, BFA, which Father himself founded for Blessed Couples to take care of themselves and each other -- the 1,800 Couples Association, the 777 Couples Association, etc.

So, the parents are very active. They developed a matching website, called Matchbook -- like a facebook matching -- and our young people and families love it. It's designed for matching advisors to work with it very well, manage information very well, so we find it to be a good tool. So we use that together with the International Matching Website.

Finally, I want to conclude with a brief description of the process. Based upon these important policies, from Hyung Jin Nim's guidelines, based on the policy that there should be clear stages for the matching process, we developed three, which were actually suggested by our International Headquarters:

"Firstly, a clear preparation stage to qualify a candidate prior to them beginning the matching process. This makes a huge difference -- that a young person is the right age, that the person makes the effort to fill out the application, do the purity interview, and all the things we used to do in the last moment just before the blessing (Where's the paperwork? Where can we find an application? We didn't finish the interview!) All of that should be done before they enter the matching process. Their purity, their confession, all should be done before the matching process. It makes a total difference in the quality of the candidate."

You should come to a Level Three couples' seminar. They are clear. They know why they are going to the Blessing Ceremony, and they are in love and they are committed because of the preparation process. Secondly, there is a very clear time-based matching process. No need to hurry. No need to rush. Give the candidates time to take ownership of their matching decision.

Thirdly, it is to develop a relationship as a matched and engaged couple prior to entering into a sexual marital relationship.

The preparation stage -- I won't go into detail -- but there we employ the policy that it be a parent-centered process, by having parents prepare well. We suggest that parents attend a Matching Convocation when their children are sixteen or younger because whenever parents come, they start to realize: "I don't know my son; my daughter doesn't trust me; we haven't really communicated well; I'm not sure how to do this." It's better to prepare well early and build a trust relationship so that God can work through the parent-child relationship.

Respect candidates input. The most important guidelines in this first stage are to fully qualify candidates before beginning the process, and secondly to make a family matching plan covering the priorities, the intentions, the concerns of the child, and what the parents' role will be. Sometimes the parents want to run the process completely -- "I'm going to tell you; I sat on the airplane to Chung Pyung and the person who sat next to me has a twenty-year old daughter. You're my twenty-one year old son. I know it was God -- that's your wife." And their son or daughter wants input, has thoughts, has ideas, and has inspiration. Other times the child wants their parents to do the work, to find someone from God, and recommend that totally. They do not want to be involved. They don't want to be faced with the choice -- "what do you think of that person, here are ten pictures, choose one". So, making a plan that's appropriate to your family faith, your son or daughter's character, is very important.

Our recommended qualifications -- these are not all of them, but these are a couple of them. We recommend a minimum of eighteen years of age. Mother has now announced that for the Cheon II Guk matching candidates, twenty-one years old will be the minimum age because she wants to make sure that the young people are the owners of their fate and mature enough to own the decision of the matching. We will require the completion of the application process by the candidate, the completion of a detailed purity interview, and Divine Principle education, as well as Level One and Level Two Blessing Education. All of this will take place before beginning the matching process.

We have a very detailed purity interview: not only "did you ever have a sexual relationship," but details about their situation, so we can work with and help them cleanse their past. We will clarify: pornography and masturbation are huge issues for our second-generation members all over the world because of the internet. And if you don't provide an opportunity for them to leave that habit behind and move forward, you're going to face a lot of difficulties. We've seen matches and marriages break because of these problems. And we ask many other details in terms of abuse or anger or crime or compulsive behaviors or other of these kinds of issues.

We seek a very detailed material, but, brothers and sisters: none of this material goes with their application to headquarters. Two pages of detailed information stay with a trained interviewer. The interview is done by the district pastor or their appointed representative. Not every district pastor is automatically a good purity interviewer. Not every young woman wants to talk to a man about her past. So we work very carefully to train and provide capable people in every district. But the only page that goes with the application is the third, the "signature page," confirming from the district pastor that this child candidate has completely confessed the personal details of their past and these personal details will remain locally until after the blessing, and then they will be destroyed. This is very important to our children who are concerned about confidentiality and their own situation and how they doing it.

This is the detailed family plan matching worksheet that asks all the questions that parents forget to think about. You find yourselves in the midst of the matching process, your kids are getting inspired, and then your find out, oh, that family wants my daughter to be barefoot and pregnant by nineteen, and we want her to finish college first. That's something that needs to be discussed beforehand. And there are many other issues that are deal-breakers, which need to be known. So that's the matching plan.

We emphasize one family at a time, that there be serious, prayerful consideration, that the couple owns the matching decision, and the most important guidelines here are that parents and children consider how they are going to find candidates. Does my son or daughter have a recommendation? That's not un-vertical. That's not something wrong if they have an idea. It's not good if they don't offer it up and pursue it only horizontally. But it is important during this time that the parents and children use this time to communicate.

We recommend a seven-month minimum communication period, for our second-generation members as well as our first. Europe employed this process for their first generation members for years, and had great success, and we learned it from them. We found it helps our sons and daughters. It doesn't make the process horizontal or dating because they enter this with the mind of creating a God-centered eternal relationship. All the things that come out after the blessing can be resolved before, so that when they go to the altar, when they stand before True Parents, they want to be together; they are committed. They own that decision. During this time they have the freedom to say yes, or no, and we make sure that they regularly communicate about how it's going, what issues there are, parent to parent, candidate to parent and to matching advisors.

Lastly the stage of becoming a couple; plan a commitment ceremony. We record the match officially; they attend the education, and they build their relationship as a matched couple from that time.

A couple of words about the first-generation process: What is different or unique -- the first-generation process is centered upon the church pastor and spiritual parent, not the family. So the church needs to take a stronger vertical parental role in guiding candidates. Also, matching advisors stand in the parental position, working with spiritual parents, local pastors, and those who are advocates for the candidate. We recommend a minimum of twenty years old, and a minimum of a year's membership, and a minimum of a year's purity for candidates.

Because matching advisors need to raise the candidates we are not trying to have one or two "spiritually gifted" people control everything. Matching advisors can do wonderful things, but in matching for the first generation, a committee oversees their recommendations before they are given, to make sure they are good ideas, before they are given to the candidates. For those in the first generation, matching advisors meet virtually (online) four times a year, so they can introduce candidates, network, and then follow-up with each other. Many, many good matches have been made through this method.

Finally, Hyung Jin Nim said that church leaders are not qualified to make absolute matchings. So in the United States our church leaders, pastors, and even our continental director is not automatically a matching advisor. This is a departure from our tradition, that automatically, as a church leader, I have a spiritual authority. We simply ask our pastors to take the same training as other matching advisors, so that they learn the same process. They must receive the same training as all other matching advisors in order to be certified. We have a wonderful website geared toward the first generation that now has more than fifty countries involved. We are working with Blessed Family Departments around the world, respecting them as the advisors for their people. We have a Matching Plan Worksheet for first generation members. As a result, in the last two years, we have a 95 percent success rate. Of course, there may be things happening that have not been fully reported -- time will tell -- but we are confident that this will be a helpful and healthy system, and I would like to offer it to you. Thank you very much. 

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