The Words of the Sutchar Family
Chicago TFV Banquet Report
November 4, 2006
One motto during the 1960s was "go with the flow." However, my elder sister Poppy Richie used to say that if you "go with the flow, you will flow down the drain." This would, however, be a good theme for the preparation of our 11th annual True Family Values Awards banquet in Chicago. The flow changed directions what seemed to be about every 5 seconds during our preparation time. First of all, Reverend Rendel was proceeding with the banquet, which would be his first in the leadership position. Secondly, what was most unique about this banquet is that it is seemingly the only event in which True Parents are the invited guests, rather than the other way around. Thus Reverend Rendel was also determined to invite True Parents as the keynote speakers (at least Hyun Jin Nim, Hyung Jin Nim or In Sup Nim, if True Parents were still in Korea). No matter what else, Reverend Rendel never wavered from this determination.
At first everything seemed to be flowing in the right direction. The ACLC leadership became inspired and decided to hold their national convocation in Chicago the day before the banquet. That meant that all the key ministers in America would be here for the banquet.
All that was left was to have True Parents’ attendance confirmed. True Father was now fishing in Kodiak, one step closer than being in Korea. So it was still possible. All the preparations were flowing into place. We had secured the nicest hotel in Chicago, whose Grand Ballroom, one of the finest and most ornate in America, was somehow still available.
Then Dr. Yang returned from Kodiak to Washington and informed the leadership to put everything on hold for the final two months of the year. Ouch! No more ACLC conference. Then we heard about the mobilization of 120 ministers to Japan and Korea. Not only were the top ACLC ministers not coming to Chicago, but even our top ministers in Chicago would be absent. Still we would be pressing n the upward path.
Week after week we continued to prepare. We were visiting what seemed to be about every church in the greater Metropolitan Chicago land area. We set up a nightly phone bank. The sisters were meeting, the brothers were meeting, the second generation was meeting, it seemed as if even our pets were meeting. We were attending banquets in every geographical corner of the city. In other words, we were mobilizing. We were also simultaneously producing a top-flight ad book to generate revenue and reaching out to every business in Chicago and all across America. UTS would place an ad, Andy Weiss’ A&S booksellers placed an ad, our fish business, various church centers, doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs were all placing ads. Of course the core of the nearly 50 page booklet came from the ministers. Yet we also included proclamations and letters of greeting from key state and city officials.
Finally, everything was falling into place. The only thing lacking was a keynote speaker. Father and Mother had gone back to Korea; the True Children were traveling all around the world, as were several of our other first choices.
Then our beloved sister Linda Triggol began to work miracles. As she was preparing for her Seung Hwa, Linda did some amazing things. She attended the 120 speech in Indianapolis in Rev. Roach’s church. Then the doctor notified her that she had at most two weeks to live. This brought Dr. Yang and Bishop Kim back to Chicago so that they could go down and visit her in Indianapolis. Linda had always been a faithful attendee of our Chicago events and I truly believe that this may very well have been her final front-line providential offering here on earth. I truly believe that Linda’s guest list included Dr. Yang, Bishop Kim and Rev. Jenkins, who would hop a jet plane from Frankfurt, Germany, the morning of the banquet in order to arrive on time to be our keynote speaker and to then be able to travel down to Indiana to officiate with Bishop Kim at Linda’s Seung Hwa service two days later. I don’t mean any of this facetiously; I truly believe that Linda brought these leaders to Chicago as part of her national level Seung Hwa.
As the day arrived our members were marching forward full force. No one was just "going with the flow" unless it was the flow of God’s spirit. Of course the biggest challenge always is to fill a banquet hall with nearly 1,000 seats. In the words of Dr. Paul Swanson, our Lutheran Professor Emeritus from the Lutheran School of Theology, "This was one of the most unified, holy events that I have ever experienced." Dr. Swanson offered a very moving prayer and, as a veteran of most of the previous ten banquets, his words rang right from the heart.
Some special aspects of the banquet included Dr. Yang and Rev. Jenkins awarding the special Global Peace Awards to attending participants from the 4th UPF World Peace Tour of Japan and Korea. Claudine Wojocwicz and Ruth Eva Konno also hosted a table of incredible Ambassadors for Peace. These are veterans of their monthly interfaith meetings and each was commissioned on stage for the work that they are doing to bring peace and harmony to the religious community.
A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Mr. Chuck Bowen who has been our special friend for the past twenty years. Mr. Bowen is Mayor Daley’s representative to the faith community and has attended many of our events over the years representing the Mayor of Chicago.
Shepherd A.I. Dunlap was awarded for his 54 years of pastoring. Rev. Dunlap is a great cvil rghts leader who worked directly with Dr. King as his point man in Farmville, Virginia. Throughout his civil rights activism, Reverend Dunlap was arrested 40 times, the last of which was for standing up for the good name of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Rev. Dunlap truly believes that after Dr. King was killed, God moved the mantle of uniting all races and all peoples onto the shoulders of our True Parents. But perhaps Reverend Dunlap’s greatest achievement was through 43 years of marriage, he and Mrs. Margaret Lee Dunlap were able to raise four beautiful children and five grandchildren. Each of his four children went on to graduate from some of the top universities in America. Michelle and Alex each hold an M.BA, Michael teaches at the University of Illinois School of Dentistry, and his youngest daughter, Barbara, graduated as the president of her class at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. Amen! Ajou!
Finally, the Chicago community was proud to honor Rev. Reiner and Barbara Vincenz with a Lifetime Achievement Award, which speaks for itself. We were proud to join the nation of France, who recently honored its first missionary who began the French church over 40 years ago.
Then, after hearing from the incredible Hargrove Family Choir and our very own Mrs. Kazumi Murray earlier in the program, our program closed in song with a performance by the Rev. Levy Daugherty.
As Reverend Rendel and this author began to reflect, we began to realize how many ingredients had gone into this pottage to make it a success. Rev. Jenkins’ sermon was amazing. He gave such a direct testimony to our True Parents as he spoke about "the mission of the Messiah." He spoke about the necessity of having blessed central families in this age of Cheon Il Gook. As the national elections were looming just 3 days away, he talked about the responsibility of people of faith to follow the head-wing course and take the subject position to lead the politicians in guiding our nation. Several of our guests gave testimony of how clear and powerful Rev. Jenkins’ sermon had come across.
Our event had included a powerful presence from the Nation of Islam. Minister Ishmael Muhammad, the son of Elijah Muhammad, had given strong and moving remarks. Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad, the Minister of Protocol for the Nation of Islam, had supported us ever so strongly. Our own Women in Ministry were represented by Mrs. Reiko Jenkins and Mrs. Tanya (Jesse) Edwards. Archbishop Milingo and his beautiful bride were front and center and greatly affected both the Catholics and the Episcopalians in the audience.
A fascinating presentation by one of the world’s foremost tumbling teams had not only brought the audience to their feet but had caused a significant percentage of the audience to climb the stairs up to the balcony. From there they could gaze down as young men and women did what seemed to defy all logical laws of gravity. This not only entertained the audience but energized them and allowed them to truly receive the word of God through Rev. Jenkins.
The banquet took place literally on the final day of the first 120 days of the final 7 year course. So it took place on the foundation of True Parents’ three world wide tours and the current tour of 120 ministers to Japan, Korea, Europe and now Africa. Finally, like the cherry on top of the celebration cake, which we cut at the conclusion of the banquet, our beloved friends at the Chicago Tribune decided that this was the perfect time to publish its front-page story about the relationship of African-American ministers, the ACLC and out True Parents. So before he left the stage, Reverend Jenkins displayed a copy of the Sunday Chicago Tribune for all to see. The story was on the front page and included two more full pages within the first section of a newspaper that would be read by over one million readers on the following day. Included in the story were beautiful photos of Bishop Kim, Rev. Jenkins, several of our top ACLC ministers and most importantly a beautiful photo of our True Parents.
The final word would be heard on the next day when Dr. Yang called Rev. Rendel to congratulate him on a splendid event. However, he said, next year will be the 12th annual banquet and we should shoot for a goal of 5,000 guests.
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