The Words of Young Oon Kim
Washington Headquarters rejoices to announce that on Friday, February 28, 1969, the first blessing of couples outside Korea took place in the Headquarters building. Six married and seven unmarried couples were blessed in marriage by our True Parents on the twentieth day of their stay in Washington. This was probably the largest wedding ever celebrated in America.
At 5:00 p. m. the wedding ceremony began with Lohengrin. Remarks were made by Mr. Eu, president of HSA-UWC in Korea, explaining the significance of the wedding to members and guests. As the Parents entered the room, Mary Penn of the New York Family sang a solo, after which a group of members from East and West Coast American Family sang "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." Miss Kim offered a prayer, and the couples, dressed in long white wedding garments and white gloves, proceeded one by one down a corridor formed by members.
After each couple had been blessed individually by our Parents, the brides by the Master and the grooms by our Mother, they took their places in the room and made their pledges to God. They then exchanged rings. Congratulatory remarks were offered by Mr. Osami Kuboki on behalf of the Japanese Family and by Neil Winterbottom of the English Family. Our Leader closed the ceremony with his prayer and followed it by calling for three shouts of Mansei! for the brides and bridegrooms.
Following wedding pictures, the new couples, Family members and guests gathered for a reception dinner in the Family dining room and afterwards an evening of Family style song and laughter, featuring the new couples and our Parents.
The couples blessed remained for three days in the Washington Center and then returned to their mission fields. The couples were Vernon Pearson and Maxine Adamson, George Norton and Sylvia Rogndahl, George Fernsler and Diane Giffin, Edwin Ang and Marie Leckrone, Philip Burley and Vivien Barron, Carl Rapkins and Linna Miller, Ken Pope and Orah Schoon, John Schmidle and Marie Laux, Galen and Patty Pumphrey, Jon and Sandy Schuhart, Wesley and Gladys Samuel, Bob and Vivian Oswald, and Fred and Jacque Stock.
Someone has said that the only thing in life that is constant is change. Perhaps no one was more aware of that in the past few weeks than those of us who either lived in or visited the Washington Center during the time of the Blessings of the six married and seven unmarried couples.
When Master announced in his first formal meeting with the Family that he would like to get to know us better and then perhaps bless some of the American Family, many people were surprised, and even shocked. Who was prepared? What were the qualifications? What were the responsibilities? Most of us were certain that few in America could qualify, and we had not expected the Master to lay so strong a foundation with America so soon.
But for Father the time was ripe. Letters were sent out to those in the field stating that any member who felt he could meet the qualifications should come to Washington for a training session. The house and annex were very soon filled, and more people were still coming to participate in, or at least to witness, this all-important event for our country.
There was plenty of suspense. Post-midnight meetings went on in almost every room among those who wanted to know more about the Blessing -- how were mates chosen? Was it considered wrong to refuse to be blessed for any reason? What about inviting one's physical parents? Near hysteria often reigned at dinner as candidates tried to live and act normally under the strain of uncertainty.
And there was no word from the second floor, where Master and his party puzzled over the problem of finding twenty-six men and women who could fill the needs of Father in the American mission. Many thought there could never be found mates. There seemed few choices among the unmarried, and no one could see how it could be accomplished.
But we had forgotten Father's 95 percent, as we often are so prone to do. When the first couples, Sylvia Rogndahl and George Norton and Orah Schoon and Ken Pope were announced, we realized that these marriages were truly being made and blessed by heaven. Our joy at the choices grew and grew until the last couple, Linna Miller and Carl Rapkins, was announced. Then, less than twenty-four hours before the ceremony was to start, feverish preparations began.
It sounded strange to hear strains of "Lohengrin" drifting up from OUR piano! Odder still it was to pick up the phone and hear an excited voice saying, "Yes, Mom, I know this will be a surprise to you, but I'm getting married -- tomorrow! Can you come?" Hammering came from the North Room, as the house carpenters made a platform for the service. Neil Salonen and Travis Jones and Gio Mathis put the finishing touches on the floor-to-ceiling sunrise mural which was to form the background for the ceremony. Others decorated the adjoining North and South Rooms (where the ceremony was to take place) with streamers of bright-colored chrysanthemums and baskets of flowers. The women were up until four a.m. making the twenty-six wedding garments. Of course, Cindy Efaw manned the kitchen and produced one of her brilliant meals for the wedding feast.
Nora Martin shocked a clerk in a downtown department store when she asked for eighty yards of taffeta for wedding garments. She later bought up every bit of white taffeta in the city. Since all the couples went to the same store to buy their rings, an awful lot of curiosity was aroused there. Betsy O'Neill starred in her own melodrama when it came to selecting a decoration for the cake. After she rejected the usual bride and groom, the clerk suggested that two doves might be nice. "Oh, no," Betsy said. "That's Formation Stage. But do you have a heifer?" She settled for a spray of real flowers.
Vivien Barron's mother made the comment of the year. "My daughter Faith gave me one week's notice when she got married," she said, "and Vivien gave me one day. I've got one daughter left, and she'll probably give me no more than an hour."
The six and seven couples who finally stood before Master and cried, "Mansei! Mansei! Mansei!" represented a truly Unified Family. Edwin Ang and Marie Leckrone bridged the Eastern and Western Hemispheres; Wesley and Gladys Samuel joined Negro and White; Philip Burley and Vivien Barron united North and South America; Carl Rapkins and Linna Miller connected the East and West Coasts of America.
One neighbor was so confused by all the flowers arriving, the singing and what she possibly saw and heard that she called the police. An officer came, but he left when he found out that we were just having a wedding.
Perhaps the first misgiving that couples got was when Miss Kim suggested that they sing for the Family after dinner. Some of the vocal combinations were interesting, but the heart was certainly there.