The Words of the Swanson Family
As I reflect upon the road that you have taken and upon my experience as a Lutheran pastor and theologian walking that road with you, it takes me back to the 1980s, when a small group of pastors and theologians began to meet monthly for dialogue. Through your vision and support, we began to realize that we held more in common than any of the theological positions that separated us. I recall later conferences in Chicago and Washington, DC, which brought together those with similar feelings. Sometime later, you made it possible to gather together others like us from the many regions of the United States. A conference was held in the Bahamas, and much of the time was spent in small groups. Although our biases initially distanced us, slowly but surely we began to feel less threatened and began to listen to each other and communicate more constructively, and with greater respect for each other.
As each of us started to feel understood, we experienced ourselves coming more closely together as persons. We began to feel that it was good for us to be there, coupled with the desire to meet together more often. The more I participated, the more I felt the barriers between us breaking down. What really started to come through to me, and which was closely related to my values and goals as a pastoral theologian teaching family counseling in a Lutheran seminary and as a marriage and family therapist supervising the clinical counseling of pastors in a Doctor of Ministry Program in Marriage and Family Counseling, was your strong emphasis on the unity of the family as an essential educational institution for future life. Later, Mrs. Moon began to speak about love as the manna for a life of sacrificial service, both for individuals and as a nation under God.
What drew me into the fellowship and work of the American Clergy Leadership Conference is the love that I have experienced from those you have taught, which seems to radiate directly from the heart of Reverend Moon. It is a living example of the New Testament statement and dictum: ‘see how they love one another.’
As the movement grew and began to reach a more diverse group of pastors and religious leaders, three high points have stayed with me. The first of these was a ceremony of Marriage Blessing in Madison Square Garden, in which I was called upon to give a prayerful statement as to the principles of marriage as seen by mainline Protestant denominations, even as representatives of other religious faith groups brought their prayerful statements and wishes with respect to marriage. A second highpoint was the conference in Moscow meant to bring together the youth and future leaders of three world powers that hitherto remained apart -- Russia, China and the United States. As I walked off the stage, arm-in-arm with professors from Russia and India, my heart was beating a heavy refrain to a worldwide message and witness.
The third highpoint was the experience and mission at the 38th parallel in Korea. Here we felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to pray for our brothers and sisters both in North as well as South Korea that they may find unity and peace. Our prayers were accompanied by peace doves, even as we heard in the distance the helicopters and guns in the target practice of the North Koreans.
Yes, these are the experiences which you, Reverend Moon, have envisioned and to a large degree made possible to ever enlighten and broaden the vision of Jesus' disciples as well as those of the East and West who may pray to the one God and Father of us all in a different names.