The Words of the Selle Family
God truly blessed our Maryland community, as we celebrated God's Day locally for the first time on a large scale. Around 2:30 pm, when my family arrived after driving through a stunningly beautiful rural scene with rolling farmland and wooded hills on Davidsonville Road, only a few people were there at the Camp Letts lodge, but there was already an atmosphere of warmth and joy in the air. Over the next hours, a constant flow of families and individuals, with some wonder and expectation on their faces, arrived at the lodge, situated at the end of a 219-acre wooded peninsula on a beautiful inlet off the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the new arrivals we hadn't seen in years.
Everyone brought his or her ethnic dish or favorite dish to share at the upcoming God's Day feast.
The very long buffet table filled up almost to the point of overflow. The number of friends arriving exceeded expectations, and soon we had to roll in more tables to seat additional guests. By the time the program started, there were about 300 to 350 people present -- a few guests, but mostly families from the Maryland and D.C. area, over a third of them Second Generation of ALL ages. It was truly a family affair - God's Family Affair. Beautiful, uplifting music in the background, board games and a roaring oak-log fire on the broad hearth made it conducive for people to just relax, enjoy and feel embraced by God's love. It also helped that they could watch through the lodge's big picture windows the beautiful sun slowly setting over the water. It could not have been a better place for this occasion!
Around 4:30 pm, Rev. James Stewart welcomed everyone to this celebration of God's Day 2009, sponsored by the New Hope Family Church and the Chesapeake Family Fellowship, and called upon Rev. Gregg Jones to deliver the opening prayer and blessing on the food. A huge line formed around the buffet tables, and it took an hour until everyone served them-selves, partially because it was hard to decide what to put on the plate in light of the immense variety of delicious food.
To introduce the spiritual part of the afternoon, our emcee, Matthew Goldberg, sang a few songs, accompanied by energetic young people.
This gave me a déjà vu, reminding me of the witnessing summit that had taken place here a year before -- except this time there were ALL FAMILIES present. Sylvia Eberly performed authentic Austrian songs, and taught the audience some serious yodeling.
Pastor Selle then was introduced warmly by Rev. Stewart and began by throwing handfuls of Chinese fortune cookies among the audience before her brief message. She spoke on the origin and meaning of God's Day, why we need God, who He is and where we can find Him (right in our own hearts). She emphasized that God did not start a religion, but created a family, with whom He wanted to experience love. Sometimes, she said, we get hung up on doctrines and organizations, but the bottom line is to have a living relationship with God, experience His love and then testify to it. To create a space for meditation and tuning in with God's love, Pastor Selle played the song "Testify to Love," by Wynona Judd.
Rev. Stewart then called upon Wynette and Vanessa James, a young interracial couple, who joined our movement through the Chesapeake Family Fellowship last year. Both testified powerfully to the love, warmth and sweetness they experienced in our church and movement, the incredible truth they found, and the deepest gratitude they felt toward all present. Especially Vanessa told the audience over and over again what great people they are and to keep sharing what they have with anyone.
Then came time for more entertainment, as well as dancing. The Korean choir sang the new holy song "Arirang" and also "Saranghe." Madison Dickson and James Stewart sang a nice duet. There was a raffle and prizes. Alan Stewart won the art contest with a powerful white-pencil-on-black-paper drawing of Father Moon's contemplative and intense facial profile. Donated toys were gathered to give to children in a local hospital.
Ezra Karemi and his wife Jane sang an African song, followed by a dancing session for all. Then Rex Butler and his wife topped it off by teaching electric dance, mostly to young folks, who quickly caught up in the groove.
All the while, many personal conversations - chatting, laughing and fellowship - took place.
The sun had set by now, and it was already 7:30 pm. Things were winding down. Many families had left by now, and with the remaining 50 or so, we gathered in a circle, and our new sister Vanessa gave a strong closing prayer, testifying to God, True Parents and our God-given mission to perfect ourselves and love others.
The spirit of love still lingered in the hall as the Stewarts, Selles and Joneses, as well as others, cleaned up.
It was indeed a day to remember… We thank God for it, and hope that He also had a great time with His family, which we are determined to repeat often during this ninth year of Cheon Il Guk.
Thanks to our great core organizational team, with the Stewarts and Selles coordinating, together with the Joneses, the Goldbergs, Taeko Moffitt, Debra Gertz, our Japanese, Korean and African community, the Aoyamas, etc! God blessed our unity of heart and teamwork as families.