The Words of the Stephens Family
This spring once again American Christian ministers were invited to Korea and Japan for an advanced seminar on Unificationism sponsored by the Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy (ICC). The conference theme was, as last year, "Rev. Moon and Korea in the Providence of God." It was held from May 6-9 in Japan at the Tokyo Hilton International Hotel and from May 9-16 at the Sheraton Walker Hill in Seoul. In all, 143 ministers and spouses attended.
This was the fourth in a series of conferences that started in April 1985, and was by far the largest, with more than double the number of participants of any previous conference. Each minister paid his or her own travel expenses, although in some cases they received support from local Unification members.
The convener of the seminar was Dr. Charles Carpenter from Atlanta, a long-time friend of both ICC and CAUSA. The director was James Stephens and the assistant director Rev. Levy Daugherty, city leader of Norfolk, VA. Also on the staff as assistant group leaders and resource people were: Rev. Reiner Vincenz (Minneapolis), Tom McDevitt (Washington DC), Kevin McCarthy (New York), Matthew Morrison (Seattle), Tom Cutts (Atlanta), Henri Schauffler (Philadelphia), Carl Swearson (St. Louis), Peter Brown (Richmond), Lorman Lykes (Brooklyn), Jim Boothby (Charleston, WV), Stan Felton (Charleston, SC), and Betsy Orman (Washington DC).
We were also fortunate to have Rev. Chong Young Ryu, regional director of the Washington DC area, at the conference. He came as a special advisor because 75 of the participants were from his region. He was especially helpful in providing the ministers with first hand testimonies from his own experiences at many of our church's historical sites.
Unlike the previous three conferences, this time the first stop was Japan. As in the past, the participants were deeply impressed by the rapid development of our church in that country. Several multi-vision presentations covered Father's life, the Principle, the history of the Unification Church in Japan, and the many exciting projects of our movement. Especially impressive and mind-boggling to them was viewing the site of the International Highway Project now underway.
One spiritual high point of our stay in Japan was the singing and prayer at the Headquarters Church in Tokyo. Another was the Youth Rally, where over 1000 new members aged 18 to 24 gathered, cheering the ministers as if they were royalty. Dr. Billy Johnson, president of the CAUSA Ministerial Alliance of New York, addressed the gathering. The participants were moved by the vitality and potential of our movement, seeing that it has the power to attract bright and energetic young people who can dedicate their lives to serving God.
In Korea, True Father expressed two special desires for this conference. First, he inspired the ministers to write a proclamation to testify to their faith in our movement and to encourage understanding among all Christians, especially those in Korea. A proclamation was drawn up and over 120 of the participants signed. It has made an impact all over Korea.
Secondly, Father suggested that the American ministers establish sister-church relationships with Korean Christian churches. To fulfill this, a beautiful signature ceremony was held centered on one long central table decorated with flags of both countries. About 34 pastors representing their congregations entered into relationships with Protestant churches in Korea. Each American minister received a special certificate signed by the pastor of his sister- church in Korea to take back home. It felt like a historical moment and the beginning of the accomplishment of Father's vision for uniting Eastern and Western Christianity.
James Stephens speaking to the ICC participants.
The ministers had an intense 7-day experience discovering the roots of our movement in Pusan and Seoul and getting a taste of the Korean culture. Each day had its own deep and moving events. The Principle study sessions proved to be very emotionally charged. Many of the ministers had met our movement through CAUSA and had not studied the Principle deeply until now. There was a wide spectrum of denominations represented. Although Protestant ministers were in the majority, several Catholics, a Jewish rabbi, and two Muslims were in attendance, and this mixture added fire to the discussions.
On the final evening, after a touching performance by the Little Angels, Father spoke to the participants very deeply about the love of God and the perfection of love in men and women. Even ministers who had been somewhat distant during the conference were opened up by Father's spirit and testimony. Many did not know what to expect after 10 days of seeing his amazing projects. By the end of dinner and his speech, Father's warmhearted charisma had won them over.
The conclusion to the evening was a performance by the Universal Ballet, with Hoon Sook Nim as lead ballerina. The Universal Ballet has been chosen as the best in Korea and will be the national representative at the Asian Games in September 1986 and the Olympic Games in 1988.
Before departing for home, each participant received gifts to take back with them, including a box of ginseng tea from True Parents, another gracious touch of the generous hospitality that had been extended to them for 10 days.
Another ICC conference is being planned for August. We encourage everyone to invite your minister friends to sign up. It is sure to make a great difference in their relationship to you and to our movement.
For further information contact:
James Stephens, ICC,
481 8th Avenue,
New York, NY 10001.
In an unprecedented historic moment, American ministers shake hands with the pastors of their Korean sister churches over the conference table at the Sheraton Walker Hill Hotel.
As participants of the Fourth American Christian Ministers' Conference on Unificationism, we have come to Korea to explore the roots of Rev. Moon and the Unification movement. Our theme is "Rev. Moon and Korea in the Providence of God."
We have found that the Unification Church is a God-centered movement which practices Christian love, and that Rev. Moon is a man inspired by God. We have examined the Divine Principle and recognize its transforming power in the lives of its followers.
Although we are of many different denominations, we recognize that the Unification movement is fulfilling a need around the world and we commend Rev. Moon for his efforts.
Because of misunderstanding, we feel the Unification Church has suffered unjustly in many respects. We call on all Christian leaders to rise above racism, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness.
In spite of our differences, let us learn to work together in the spirit of Christian love and reconciliation. The true love of Christ is the only solution to the problems of atheistic communism, immorality, and the division of the church.
In the name of Jesus Christ