The Words of the Stephens Family
Report on National Conference for BFD Representatives #3 - Substantializing Plans and Goals for 2008
December 7 - 9, 2007
Homewood Suites, BWI Airport
The third annual National Conference for BFD Representatives was attended by 36 participants from all 12 Districts. At least 2 representatives came from each of the 12 Districts. Boston District sent 5 people.
Also attending were Rev. Phillip Schanker, Mrs. Yasue Erikawa and Chizuko Hosoe from the Missionary Office, Rev. Inguk Seo from Second Gen. Blessing Affairs, Noah and Kathy Ross from the BFA, John and Cathy Williams who visit Districts on behalf of the BFD and also present Teleseminars.
The evening began with a lasagna dinner lovingly prepared by Mrs. Hiromi Stephens, Nari Stephens, and Amadea de Groot (BFD staff). Throughout the weekend we saved a lot of money on food by cooking most of the meals ourselves. The participants expressed only praise for the meals as far as I know.
The first presentation was "Year in Review and Looking Ahead to 2008" by Rev. Phillip Schanker. He mentioned some key BFD achievements and emphasized the development of a more clear process of education, matching and Blessing for First Generation in the coming year, and stressed the importance of the BFD as a representative of True Parents, and maintaining a relationship with Godís Providence and church leadership.
Participants were all given a Master CD of computer files of BFD documents that can be very helpful in the field. Jim Stephens gave an overview of the contents. It is also filled with valuable resources, even including Holy Songs and recordings of True Parents singing in the early 1970ís in America.
Each District was presented with a set of 6 DVDís of videos taken during the Parents Matching Convocation #3 at the end of October, 2007, at UTS. These DVDs are meant to be shown to parents to help guide them in the process of matching their children.
Next each attendee spent time writing down their inspirations regarding their roles in the BFD and reporting on events they have organized in their Districts over the last year, 2007.
Saturday morning started at 5:00am with Ahn Shi Il and the reading of Peace Message #5.
After breakfast, Jim Stephens shared inspirations in his life that he has received from God about leadership using the subject-object relationship and how God loves each of us so much beyond our sins but that He is limited by the people He has to work through. Jim also gave a powerpoint on guidance for the BFD Reps in how to lead the growth of BFD efforts back home. He reminded them to always build teams and never do it alone.
Rev. Inguk Seo shared about the Seonghwa Dept. (formerly the Second Generation Dept.) and connected the BFD leaders to the efforts in their department. He also explained about efforts to assist in making international matches by parents and the new International Matching Website.
Dave Hunter, Director of Youth Education at HQ, presented some of the projects they are working on, in particular the Internship Program they have developed for Second Gen. to connect with Unificationist projects and businesses.
Noah Ross, Chairman of the BFA, gave a powerpoint Explanation and Update on the BFA Activities. Noah also presented an Introduction to the new 2nd Gen Matching Website: MATCHBOOK.
After lunch Mrs. Yasue Erikawa spoke on Matching the First Generation members and shared the significance and importance of thorough education and understanding of the meaning and value of the Blessing. The BFD nationwide will have a very large role to play when new members are joining on the way to the goal of 30,000.
Next followed personal time for each Representative to think, pray, and write down plans on the subject: Planning for the Blessed Family Dept. in your District, identifying dates and projects for 2008. This was followed by gathering by District level for reflections and writing, team building, deciding programs and events and assigning dates for 2008.
Next Rev. Phillip Schanker gave guidance and clarification on the subject: Understanding the Amnesty, emphasizing the impact of this important grace from God and True Parents upon Second Generation candidates for the Blessing, and how to address questions about the past when discussing potential matchings between families.
John Williams was the next speaker and he gave a powerpoint on Domestic Violence and How to Respond. It must clearly be stated for all members that absolutely no physical violence is acceptable in our families.
John Williams continued with a second powerpoint on The Internet Pornography Plague, Protecting our Sons. He shared important insights on the impact of this problem on individuals and relationships. It is known that nearly every teenage boy in our church has been exposed to pornography and likely is masturbating. This is a very important topic that needs to start to be addressed in the field with heavenly understanding and through developing successful programs to help our youth and all those in society as well.
Dinner was another great home-cooked meal which was followed by a DVD (created by a Second Gen couple) of the Camp for Special Needs Children held in August, 2007. Yoshi and Fran Ichijo shared their heart and experiences leading the camp and the Special Needs Ministry and their desire to see all Blessed Children with Special Needs receive the matching.
The New BFD Website was shown by Nari Stephens (BFD staff) who has been working hard to give our old website a face-lift and a re-organization.
Next the participants were divided into 6 groups and each was asked to share stories of successful events and programs that they have had in their Districts. The discussions seemed very stimulating and all of the groups kept on going for 30 minutes beyond the allotted time.
On Sunday morning, inspiration was given by Mrs. Hiromi Stephens on the topic, "God is working through you all the time but you may not realize it." Following her sharing each attendee was asked to pray to God and write down a message that He wanted to give to the person sitting next to them. Many had deeply moving experiences.
Next, Amadea de Groot (BFD staff), gave a report on all the BFD ministries. Amadea had the responsibility to call all the National Coordinators of the ministries and share their reports with the participants. She handed out written reports and then gave a verbal summary. She reported on the Ministries for Adoption, Second Gen. Matching Support (Mrs. Takahashi), Children with Special Needs, Adult Singles and Divorcees, Counseling, Senior Services, Marriage Support and Enrichment, Prayer, Seung-Hwa and Won-Jeon, Western Women Married to Japanese Men, and Mentoring Second Gen Couples.
The last session was a time for reflections and sharing all together about how God has worked in different Districts and the lives of the Representatives. I think the attendees were able to catch a vision that itís possible to develop the BFD all across America and really contribute to making the Heavenly Kingdom one family at a time.
We closed with a group picture and special sushi lunch boxes for everyone prepared by a local couple.
The individual reflections and plans for 2008 are being typed up and will be available soon. There seemed to be a general consensus that we should probably meet twice a year and have regular conference calls as well.
In Godís Love,
Jim Stephens, Co-Director, BFD-USA