The Words of the Yakawich Family

A Month of Contextualization in Montana

Mike Yakawich
July 27, 2011

The Yakawich family

"Our purpose is not to achieve the self-centered domination of all people, but to save all people and establish the parent/child relationship with God."
Sun Myung Moon

The first time I heard this word, "contextualization", was from Dr. Richard Quebedeaux. He was a professor at the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS). He was a good man who loved Father Moon and the members of his movement. He was one of the first professors to stand up and support Rev. Moon in the early days of the movement here in America.

Dr. Quebedeaux would often instruct us to find common ground in our ministry. He was an inspiration and a mentor in my days at UTS. He often communicated with me while out in the field in my role as a pastor. He instructed that the early Christians had to find common ground and ways to assimilate. When they did this they were successful.

This month reminded me of his words and the efforts we can make at outreach.

I was honored to conduct a funeral for a business friend of mine. Ed was a rancher and passed away at 84. His son Larry called me and requested my services for his father's funeral. This is not an unusual request in my ministry. On the average I have conducted about three services a year for my customers in the Yellowstone, Stillwater and Carbon Counties. These services include marriage/Blessing, couples classes, Baptism and funeral. My last article dated May 2011 reported on a marriage/Blessing we conducted here in Billings.

From a 20 year old to an 87 year old, I feel I have been blessed to strive to the best of my ability sending souls to heaven. Of course we know such services are as much for those left behind as those who pass on. People have called me and have paid me for their services. Always they have expressed deepest gratitude for these services and the spirit they are provided. I can only give glory and honor to Heavenly Father. Certainly, our gratitude incorporates the words and deeds of our founder as well.

It is the heart of an Unificationist pastor to provide the best quality of services that one can offer. One can strive to input our faith traditions whenever possible. Also, one must be respectful of the family who may not be of the same faith tradition. So as Dr. Quebedeaux would say, "You need to contextualize your ministry to those whom you are working with." It perhaps would be normal to reject such requests expressing either a lack of confidence or certain rigidity in offering services for people who do not attend ones church. Yet, with striving to pastor the unchurched some of the greatest spiritual experiences of the Holy Spirit have emerged and golden opportunities to witness transpire.

During this past service a Holy Candle was burning. Words of hope and inspiration were offered. As so commonly happens, other customers of mine (Whom many are not affiliated with any church) would take me to the side after service and request that I do their funeral when the time comes! In this past service, there were many grandchildren. With other experiences, I could provide helium balloons where the youth could send their final prayers to grandpa as we released them at the gravesite. The military played taps and presented a 21 gun salute.

This week again my services were requested for a Baptism of a young person, Bruce. This baptism has developed subsequent to a wonderful circle of events. Bruce's grandfather passed a couple of years ago. I was asked to conduct this service. The grandmother, Linda, subsequently began attending our church periodically. Then the grandmother brought the daughter, son in law and grandchild. Now, Shane and Sheila have asked me to do this Baptism for their child. Again the words of my professor echo in my heart as how to contextualize our faith with others expectations, hopes and dreams.

In such ceremonies I have found these as opportunities for education and blessing. In Baptisms I will use Holy Water to bless the child and take the opportunity to provide a Holy Wine to the couple as an other blessing to the family. It is not only received but very much appreciated as well. Actually, during the ceremony, several couples stood together and accepted the Holy Wine, bowing in respect to each other and receiving my prayer. Later, they commented even though they do not go to "church", they are so grateful that I can be their pastor whether in sickness or in good health.

In our journey through our ministry, I have realized that people need our services. They value our faith traditions where hope replaces despair, blessings overpower doubts, and judgment is replaced with forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal. In all the services I have conducted both in marriage/Blessings; funerals or Baptisms God has consistently and constantly been there. The Holy Spirit is excited and always provides a door opened to the heart of our spiritual children.

We go step by step by the grace of God. 

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