The Words of the Brabazon Family
Kevin Brabazon was born at Goostrey, Cheshire, a town midway between Liverpool and Manchester, England. He earned a B.Sc. in mathematics at the University of London. He joined the Unification Church in 1970, a year before his graduation, and started a CARP center on his campus that year. After teaching high school for a year, Kevin went to work at the English church headquarters at Rowlane Farm, Redding, as a lecturer, administrator and fundraiser -- selling church magazines on the street.
He came to the USA in June of 1973, and spent his first nine months in the Louisville, Kentucky, center. During Father's 21 city tour Kevin managed to have Father and Mother proclaimed "Kentucky Colonels" (quite an achievement, considering their patronage of restaurants).
Kevin worked on Reiner Vincenz's IOWC during the 32 city tour, doing Public Relations work for the Watergate campaign in the process. Finally that IOWC settled in Seattle, where Kevin lectured and began his social action work with the National Association of Blackfeet Indians.
Blessed with Maria Gill in the 1800 Couple Blessing (they now have three children), he spent his next two years in Europe. While working in Germany with the IOWC in 1976, Kevin received revelations concerning his future mission. At that time he undertook a serious study of American history, focusing on black history and the civil rights movement.
In May 1977 Kevin returned to the states, joining the Interfaith department, where his wife was working. This was the time of the First National Conference on the Church and Social Action, at Fordham University. He created a program in Harlem called the "New Society Social Services," which soon merged with the. Harlem NCCSA, newly established by Shawn Byrne.
Q: Kevin, tell me more about the genesis of NCCSA.
Out of our Fordham and Georgetown conferences came the realization on our part that something had to be done in terms of substantial social work. Bruce Casino established the first NCCSA chapter, in Washington, D.C. This was in April 1977, and ours in New York began soon after that. Our guiding support at that time was David S.C. Kim, President of the Unification Theological Seminary.
Q: My impression has been that the early NCCSA work was a bit haphazard and uncertain. Is that accurate?
No, it was actually very carefully planned. There was a lot of struggle, however, over the structure the organization should take: was it to be centralized and centered on conferences and research; or decentralized, with local autonomy, concerned more with the real problems and getting things done. Bruce and I pushed the second agenda, finally organizing the Council as a federal type body, with local representation, patterned after the American democratic system.
Q: What did you see at that time as the purpose for NCCSA?
One fundamental purpose was to give Father the vehicle he was trying to create prior to the creation of the HSA. that is, an interdenominational movement of Christians. This agenda occupied the first eight years of Father's ministry. We were absolutely conscious of this as our internal purpose. Bruce and 1 first discussed this directly with Father on Children's Day 1982. He was supportive.
A second aspect of our purpose was the reconstitution of the American civil rights movement on an Abel-type basis. We realized that if Father had been accepted by Christians in Korea in the fifties, he would have had great influence with the civil rights movement among American Christians in the sixties. We wanted to reconstruct that situation. The third aspect of our purpose was to bring together the Cain and Abel elements in American Christianity. Our concept is that from the time of the formal division in this country of black and white churches, in the late eighteenth century, the black church more than the white has been pursuing the founding principles of this nation. This is a generalization, but it culminates with the leadership of black Christians in the civil rights movement. Hence we feel that restoration of Christianity in America must center on the black churches. This also happens to coincide with the pragmatic reality that the ministers most interested in our work are black. So there is a combination of theory with pragmatic reality. A lot of the original ideas getting NCCSA started came from black ministers, such as Rev. Albert Tyson, Rev. Earl Jordan and Rev. William Hawkins.
Q: Why did Father not take more direct initiative in founding the NCCSA?
I think this work had to emerge from the established Christian world, not from Father. Christians rejected Father in Korea, therefore Christians here had to reach out on their own to Father. Of course this did not preclude Unification movement members stimulating that development.
Q: It seems that Father is giving great attention to the NCCSA and work with Christian ministers of late. Why is this?
Father, of course, has always kept informed about our work, through President Kim and Rev. Kwak. However, Father's real attention began on Children's Day 1982. I think that the offering had reached a point where Father could accept it and begin to work with it.
Q: Was that when the Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy began?
Yes, the first steps were our proposals for Divine Principle seminars for ministers, early in 1982. The suggestions crystallized after the Children's Day meeting, and plans were drawn up in February 1983. The first ICC was that June; there were two more the following October and two this last February. About eight hundred clergy have attended these conferences so far. One major result of these meetings has been the expansion of NCCSA from having ten chapters in March 1983, to fifty this March. That's a 400% increase.
Q: When Father gets interested in something some things always start jumping. How has his eschatological input affected theretofore "rational" development of the Council?
Well, we've always stressed as our major theme the building of God's Kingdom on the earth; this has been our core point. Our social action has had a specific goal, you see; we don't want just to deal with problems but to solve them. One effect, however, has been that now my tasks as an administrator are heavier, and this gives me less time to pursue my home church work in Harlem. I feel this work is extremely important, for my efforts with NCCSA are directly rooted in that local community activity. My family has lived in Harlem for six years. I'm on the Community Board, which acts as an advisory board to the New York City Council. You might say that Harlem is the archetypal black community, and we can help create a model, a pattern for community development there. For me it's essential to keep this connection all the way through.
Q: Do you see that with its democratic structure the NCCSA should be able to more or less run itself?
Yes, it is geared very much to the generation of local energy through local responsibility. We're strong on the self- help principle, you see, emphasizing responsibility on the individual and community levels. Here is where the religious base of NCCSA is crucial, for it is through religion that the purpose for self- transcendence enters in, based upon an ideal beyond simply the external needs of the community. NCCSA is unique in social change organizations in that it centers the action around churches, the Christian root.
Another thing about the Council's expansion. Rev. Alex Chambers became the Council President in 1980, and really our expansion started then. He has traveled all over the country to establish new chapters, and he has been the convener of the ICCs. He is a man of enormous energy and insightful effectiveness.
Q: One major development for our church of late, which impacts NCCSA, has been the designation of the Itinerant Lecturer/Regional Coordinators (ILRCs), and their work with the IOWCs and the churches. How does this relate with the Council?
The development was not a surprise to me. We expected Father would find a major use for the NCCSA vehicle. We expected this ecumenical work to come into the mainstream of the movement, although we of course couldn't foresee the exact structure it would take. This development represents the living out of our doctrine that the religious organization lives for the sake of other organizations. Therefore we work to gain members for other churches, not for ourselves.
Q: How is the IOWC work with the local NCCSA chapters coming along?
It looks very promising. A number of IOWCs have lent volunteers for local chapter work. And they have helped in getting chapters organized.
Q: How does the revival activity relate with the NCCSA?
We see the revival work as a means of touching the internal condition of the churches. It affords a means to get whole congregations involved, whereas now it is sometimes just the ministers. I see the goal of the revivals as being to get the whole congregation serving others, living their faith. This would be the reformulation of the church as a training place for love and service, as exemplified by Christ. Thus there is a deep give and take relationship between the revival work and social action.
Q: What of NCCSA's relations with white churches?
Involvement of white churches is growing, and we have several white chapter presidents. Also our first Native American and Hispanic chapters are beginning. We have the express principle of interracial mixing, and it is happening. Just as in the sixties, the civil rights movement began as a minority issue with the blacks, but eventually developed huge support from white Christians and Jews. NCCSA seems to be moving the same way.
Q: Do you foresee international development in the future? And beyond Christianity as well?
Yes. Already there are Muslims involved here in America, and a few rabbis have attended the ICCs. We will be pan-ecumenical, involving all religions. To be honest, we see NCCSA ultimately as an answer to communism. And this is of great interest to Father. Communism developed where Christianity failed to deal adequately with social problems. We are providing a Christian alternative to the Communist proposals, and we seek to out-maneuver the Communists -- out-feeding them, out- educating them, out-housing them. We have our first overseas chapters now started in the Caribbean. This work can easily bring two developments: one, a religious united nations, where world religious leaders can meet to discuss and formulate projects; two, the strengthening of churches in countries controlled by materialistic systems. Through organizational support, training, materials, education and moral support we will enable the churches to become powerful social forces, challenging those governments to change substantially, and offering realistic counter-solutions. I foresee the real power of religiously-based policy alternatives, which can have great practical effect.
Q: Thinking so globally, you naturally enter the sphere of all our other Unification programs which are projecting onto the same level.
We do and will continue to work together with all phases of the movement. There is now a board of several Christian bishops and New ERA theologians which functions as a think-tank to produce an ecumenical theology for social action. Similar developments hopefully will take place when the time is right between NCCSA and PWPA, the Washington Institute, etc. Work together with CARP, bringing college students out into the community, has just been initiated. The NCCSA also may provide channels and applications for the various industries and businesses associated with the Unification movement.
Q: There is some disparity between the NCCSA "democratic" structure and the way most of our movement is organized. Will this become a problem?
I don't think so. I make a strong distinction between our present hierarchical system, which I see as an interim vehicle set up for specific providential reasons, and the ultimate ideal. We all accept that we are sacrificing many of the blessings God means for us to have, such as family life, property ownership, even vocational preferences, for the sake of Kingdom building. A natural or original autonomy also is being sacrificed by our members, partly for reasons of our own spiritual growth, and partly for providential reasons.
Q: You have helped set up in the NCCSA something quite unique in our movement, and I know it couldn't have been easy. What is it that keeps you going?
Actually, it's several things. First, the vision of the new world, which was with me before I met the church. I was preaching a theocratic government before I ever encountered Father's teachings.
Q: What was your religious affiliation at the time?
I was a lapsed Catholic, but newly reborn as a Christian without church affiliation. The second thing that keeps me going is my belief that I have to help Father to fulfill his mission; that he cannot do it by himself; that I am a mini-Messiah, who has responsibility for one portion of the jigsaw puzzle. This also I realized before joining the church.
Third, I had an undying experience with Jesus before the church, which even though Father is alive and victorious, taught me something I need to know about Jesus' heart, Jesus who had to die. Sometimes it is harder to stay alive and keep on plugging away, but if you have to die, and give it up... it would be unimaginably hard. I experienced Jesus' feeling at Gethsemane; I experienced how much Jesus loved the world, and that there was not one person who could receive that love. I could feel where God was really at.
Fourth, and maybe most important, is my absolute conviction that Father is the Messiah.
Fifth, the Principle keeps me going. At times it is a ruthless taskmaster, but it provides such a tremendous understanding; it gives the way to overcome and solve problems and obstacles. Sixth...my hatred of injustice. At times hatred keeps me going; my anger with exploitation and racism. But this points to something more basic for me. It's a concern for people... a love for people, really, which won't allow me to give this up.