The Words of the Song Family
Dr. Song Yong-cheol is regional president of Europe
Dr. Song, would you please say something about the spiritual conditions European members have been making across the continent.
When I was a missionary in New Zealand, we welcomed True Parents there in 1995. Father spoke to the New Zealand family members from around nine o'clock one evening until six the following morning. He was totally focused as he continued to speak. He didn't even go to the toilet. After he finished speaking, he didn't have any breakfast but rushed off to the airport. At that time, he said to the leaders, "If you work like this, nothing is impossible. So, you have to live like I do." Everybody was very impressed and moved by Father's lifestyle.
Since that time, I have always thought about that message of Father's, which was about absolute commitment and absolute investment. "Absolute Jeong Seong will bring everything to success" became my life's motto while I was working in Oceania.
In 2003, Father moved me to Europe. I realized that to meet Father's expectation, I needed absolute commitment and spiritual victory.
I know that the members in Europe made conditions on an almost constant basis during the time True Parents were excluded from Europe under the Schengen listing.
The Schengen ban was a very big issue and was unresolved for many years. European members were sad and heartbroken, even feeling guilty. The feeling was that we couldn't win, we couldn't solve it. There were legal issues, but the primary points were spiritual issues. For some years, European family members have been offering forty-day periods of Jeong Seong. Everyone aligned with True Parents' vision, believing that if we made Jeong Seong conditions beyond even what we imagined possible, the Schengen ban could be resolved and God's providence would ascend.
When Hyung-jin nim began his pastoral work, he spoke mainly about Jeong Seong. European family members realized once again how beneficial a life of Jeong Seong is, both for them and for God's providence. Now we are on the forty-second Jeong Seong period. The forty-third will take us up to True Parents' birthday. Members in Europe make conditions together for the same vision and goal. They understand what the primary and secondary focuses of the current providence are, and they work together. Each condition is dealing with a specific goal.
When we welcomed True Parents to Seville, Spain, after resolving the Schengen ban, we were making our fortieth condition. True Parents entered Europe without any difficulty. That was a dream finally fulfilled. Many members wept.
Until 2007, Europe was under Satan's dominion, even blocking Father from coming. This has been cleared away. The spiritual environment in Europe has entirely changed.
What focus do you maintain in the European providence?
Until the Schengen matter was resolved, our focus was how we could substantially develop the Universal Peace Federation, because we needed many Ambassadors for Peace who could support our movement. In working to resolve the Schengen issue, UPF developed greatly on both the local and international levels.
From the time that issue was resolved, our focus changed to bringing Ambassadors for Peace to deeply understand the Principle and True Parents, enabling them to become blessed family members and citizens of Cheon Il Guk and to fulfill their role as Ambassadors for Peace -- which is to convey Father's message. They arc the ones who should guide the people of their countries to the blessing. It is they who can protect our blessed family members on earth.
I can understand how finding Ambassadors for Peace was so important. Haven't you been teaching them the Principle for some years already?
We've been very consistent over some six years in following President Song's direction to hold European Leadership Conferences. We have held these in different locations around Europe. Teaching the Principle is at the core of these. Originally, we were expressing the Principle based on the five core principles of UPF. These were a means of teaching the three elements of Divine Principle -- the Creation, the Human Fall, and Restoration. We put it into the context of creating peace. For example, the Three Great Blessings expressed as peace within me, peace within the family and peace in terms of our relation to the natural world, and to power, authority and wealth and how they are used. We use Father's terminology, and familiarize participants with that.
What kind of response do you receive?
Generally there has been a very good atmosphere. The people who come have different levels of connection with us, and naturally the levels at which they receive the presentations are different.
We want to explain the underlying principles and the motivation of the founder from the outset. So we teach very deeply about Father's life and about his life experience. It's a way to answer the question, why is this person dedicating his life to working for world peace? We can testify to Father's own very traumatic life experiences and in that way explain that Father can sympathize with people under oppression, people who have been through civil war, people who have been tortured for their beliefs and convictions, people who have been refugees.
The key point is to explain about Father's experience with Jesus in 1935. Because we are dealing with an inter-religious audience, including people who don't have religious convictions, I have taken the approach to say, "Let me be very honest with you. This is Father Moon's view, and you are not obliged to adopt it as your own, but the main point is that you understand the sincerity of his motivation."
Through this, we can explain very deeply Father's perception of God's suffering, and the parent-child relationship between God and human beings. He made his promise to God and Jesus not because he knew how to achieve it but because he couldn't say no. He then devoted the rest of his life unchangingly to fulfilling that promise. I think we can convey quite deeply why Father is doing what he is doing. Also through that, it is possible to explain his sense of his own role.
Do you explain Father's role as the Second Coming?
That hasn't always been explicit, but we are going more in that direction as we are urged to do so by Hyung-jin nim.
We also explain the stages of development of Father's work: the very religiously-oriented church stage -- which is still continuing of course -- then more emphasis on the family, starting with the blessing and then the Family Federation, and then the peace work aspect. We explain those three overlapping aspects and the breadth of Father's work rooted in his original promise to God.
We say to people honestly, first you want to know that what you are associating with has integrity (that is, the motivation behind it) but second you will face challenges through your involvement. People will ask, "Isn't this some small religious minority?" They need to understand how deep and broad the original motivation is and how things have developed over time.
The point is to develop trust, a sense of closeness, and admiration (in a sense) for the sincerity that lies behind the work. We also explain that essentially those who worked with Father Moon to achieve this have been those among his own religious following because they had that kind of commitment. But in the process he has taken us on a journey from being part of a small religion to having the heart to serve the world and work for world peace -- which is rooted in his original promise. We are trying to be quite open.
At our first seminar in Glory House, we tried to teach the entire Principle and put too much into one weekend, but then we began focusing instead on approaching it from the core UPF Principles, which I think was very effective.
Now we have to shift again as Father's very clear direction is to bring people toward the blessing, to bring people to a deeper sense of commitment. So in the most recent three seminars we have moved the content more toward bringing people to the blessing.
The question is how to create the right balance. Our Ambassadors for Peace include many from committed, non-Christian religious backgrounds, and the question is how to accommodate that while openly explaining True Father's own faith and motivation.
There's definitely a sense that we create a living experience of one family under God through each ELC [European Leadership Conference] we hold. This past weekend, for example, at our seminar in the Netherlands we had forty to fifty people.
There was an incredible coming together of people, meeting others from very different professional backgrounds, different religious and national backgrounds. This closeness was epitomized by the cultural evening we always have, which was very warm and uplifting. And the next morning we go into Father's life. It's a well-established balance of different elements.
On the Saturday, we have some of our high-level Ambassadors for Peace share on specific topics by way of a mini-conference.
For example former Dutch defense minister, Willem Frederik Van Eekelen, who is still very much involved in international affairs, including European integration, spoke on the Pacific Rim and the role of China at our most recent ELC. In the Van Eekelen's Christmas letter to all their friends and colleagues in 2008 they spoke so appreciatively of UPF and their experience with the Middle East Peace Initiative.
Through such high-level contacts, we can invite other high-level speakers who don't yet know us and make an initial connection with them. Those attending ELCs can understand the level of the people we are working with and this also builds trust and confidence in our work. Mrs. Van Eekelen is also an amazing woman, with such a warm and caring heart. She was clearing the plates off the lunch table.... And a few months back she and her husband sang at the cultural evening!
Our current work, Europe-wide, is to bring our contacts that are connected with UPF, FFWPU or WFWP for example, to another level. This is our current focus of activity. All our communities are engaged in Divine Principle workshops and blessing workshops, trying to guide people directly to the main providence, the Parent UN. It is blessed members that will form the Parent UN. Our European focus is how we can bless all our contacts and UPF Ambassadors for Peace. We want to bless at least 10 percent of the Ambassadors for Peace at a Blessing Ceremony in San Marino in January. There are ceremonies in each nation running until True Parents' Birthday, all connected with our main Blessing Ceremony in San Marino.
For the three years until 2013, the blessing will be the main providential activity. So this will be one of our main focuses. We will hold Divine Principle education and blessing workshops, so that our contacts can become blessed members and Cheon Il Guk citizens. At the same time, we have to continue the work to make first contacts and to bring people to under- stand.
How do European members contact people nowadays?
It varies with each country. Some countries have begun street witnessing or visiting home to home. Others are inviting their guests and contacts to workshops by sending e-mail or letters, or through web sites. Each country has a different way.
Because we have been developing IIFWP and UPF over the years, we have established a certain foundation. How can we bring them farther so that they commit themselves and become proud to be in a blessed central family? Some Ambassadors for Peace in different countries are attending Sunday service. Last Sunday I was in Belgium. One ambassador for peace there had joined and wants to tithe. We are also witnessing to young people and married couples.
Do you also hold traditional Divine Principle workshops, here in London for example?
We have them. They are held all over Europe. Some countries have maintained a more continuous focus on witnessing to younger people, especially in Eastern Europe (Hungary and Slovakia for example) and the Balkans. Albania is outstanding in that area.
STF has always had a witnessing period, but now six months of the one-year program will be focused on going to a nation and investing there, while funding themselves during that period. This will be primarily outreach, witnessing with Divine Principle, but also some element of service projects. We will have fourteen or fifteen different STF groups, more than a hundred STF members are going out. This will be very stimulating for certain nations.
For example, Jack Corley is now back in Ireland. He has reestablished the headquarters so that it is now ready to receive guests. He is getting involved with direct Divine Principle outreach. In France, Laurent Ladouce will devote himself to working with the STF team, building toward more direct witnessing again. Western Europe is moving more in that direction.
President Song's strategy for the revival of witnessing is leading to a focus on the blessing and getting our membership into outreach mode. Of course, not everybody's in outreach mode, though a percentage have always remained so. In Western Europe, outreach work had been focused on the UPF side, reaching out to Ambassadors for Peace. Now, in order to revive an outreach spirit, the first step is to spread that feeling out to everyone and make it clear that everyone should be bringing someone to the Blessing Ceremony. Not everyone will, but some will bring more than one couple. The "outreach" feeling, particularly in Western Europe, where we have much larger membership, is steadily reaching more members and is starting to stimulate people to think they can really bring someone.
We don't want this to be just the token taking of the holy wine to get the number, but the focus this time is very much on how we will take individual care of everyone who participates in order to guide them forward through the ceremonies of the blessing, while maintaining ongoing interest and concern. We arc working that out.
On the local level, pastors and blessed couples are trying to help teach the traditions after the blessing -- the forty-day separation and Three-Day Ceremony, so that the Ambassadors for Peace can deeply connect with our roots and understand their responsibilities. This is going well. This is firm and deep education.
The European church makes an annual resolution that's kept for the year as a guiding mission statement. For 2009, for example, we made the San Marino Resolution, named after the country in which we held our annual Cheon Il Guk Leaders' Meeting that year. It clarifies the focus of our activity and prayer. A working group drafted this during the meeting. It's aligned with True Parents' providence, and thus very helpful for each family to keep as a reminder. This relates to the current Jeong Seong condition, and changes slightly over the course of the year as the focal points of the work and forty-day conditions change.
Dr. Song keeps in personal touch with community leaders around Europe through regular conference calls, during which he shares what he has received from Father and shares inspiration with local, city-level, leaders.
Communities are defined as areas holding a regular Sunday service and having leaders that take pastoral care of the members there. Even if the geographical spread of some of the communities is quite substantial, each member is allocated to a specific community. There are a hundred and five communities in Europe and we are heading toward a hundred and twenty.
There has been a definite shift in recent months from the European headquarters communicating just to the national headquarters to having much more direct communication with the community-level leaders. This is very important, strategically, because whereas little nations such as Iceland, Malta or Rumania are accustomed to responding to every central direction that comes from True Parents through the European office, some members in other much larger communities in major nations such as Britain, France or Germany have been outside the focus of the providence. In a way, they have been sheltering behind their national head- quarters, which have been taking on the responsibility. Now they naturally come more into the focus.
Particularly with Hyung-jin nim asking for weekly reporting in the last few months we have started to receive weekly reports from each community and there's a growing sense of connection from the front line to here at the European office. President Song is insistent that we pass everything up in the report to the international office, so those on the front line start to feel appreciated and recognized. Another aspect of this is a greater awareness of what we are doing and not doing. Before, it might have been hard to get a report, even from a national leader in a larger country. Reporting on a monthly basis is difficult if you are not carefully recording everything on a weekly basis. Now there's a sense that we're working with precision.
The blood in the system, which had been rather stagnant, is now beginning to circulate again.