The Words of the Osmond Family
Father and Mother with Kevin Brabazon, executive director of NCCSA (left), Bruce Casino, executive vice-president of NCCSA (far right) and Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak (second from right) posing in front of one of 250 trucks recently purchased to serve Christianity and the American people.
The National Council for Church and Social Action (NCCSA) has, during the past six months, become a major vehicle into which the Unification Movement has directed vast amounts of its resources. At a time when our Founder has faced the prospect of going unjustly to prison, the church, inspired by Father, has donated funds, a fleet of trucks, and pledged a quota of volunteer manpower to NCCSA activities, in the hope that its efforts will help engender the revitalization of Christianity and of the founding principles of America.
"The National Council for Church and Social Action was founded in 1977 as a vehicle for the cooperation of churches, civic groups, and the private sector," says the Executive Director of NCCSA, Mr. Kevin Brabazon. "The concept originally grew out of one year of dialogue between predominantly Black clergy of various denominations and members of the Interfaith Affairs Department of the Unification Church. Based on this year of dialogue, the Urban Studies department at Fordham University sponsored a conference in May 1977. There was such an over- whelming response among ministers from seventeen states at this conference that the final impetus to organize NCCSA into a formal body came about."
Today, NCCSA has chapters in 160 cities throughout the United States, involving over five thousand churches and civic organizations. Activities include food banks and food distribution, advocacy programs, weatherproofing homes of senior citizens and low income families, housing counseling programs, soup kitchens, clothing distribution, cultural programs in schools and senior citizen homes and vocational training -- all done by volunteers.
A major activity is a solicitation program, whereby companies are contacted and asked to contribute food and other goods. In the first six months of this year, for example, NCCSA chapters received and distributed two-and-a-half million pounds of food throughout the country. NCCSA volunteers deliver the foodstuff to participating churches and civic organizations for local distribution.
Los Angeles, the largest NCCSA chapter, has over five hundred churches and civic groups participating in its activities. Its food bank distributes about 120,000 pounds of commodities per week. This chapter also excels in weatherproofing of homes, technical assistance, and training of volunteers. In the works are plans for community health services, college work-study programs, a senior community employment program, and housing counseling.
Washington, D.C., under the directorship of Executive Vice-Director of NCCSA Bruce Casino, is the oldest chapter of NCCSA. It has a highly developed food program, a housing counseling program, and "The Fourteenth Street Employment Task Force," which advocates the hiring of local residents for construction projects in their communities.
Smaller, younger chapters are active too. In Georgia, the Atlanta chapter sponsors educational entertainment pro- grams in schools and senior citizens' homes, provides legal counseling and mediation services, and, in conjunction with United Way, distributes boxed lunches to shut-ins. One of the newest chapters, in White Plains, New York, uses its monthly allocation from NCCSA to lease computers on which to train the underprivileged or unemployed in computer skills.
"True discipleship, translated into a working philosophy, means doing those things that have been learned from the Master, our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. In doing so, we have no choice but to serve mankind," explained Rev. Alex A. Chambers, President of NCCSA, in its annual convention last March. His words exemplify the philosophy of Christian responsibility and volunteerism which guides the work of NCCSA.
The early church did not define social action by what they thought could be accomplished in the Roman system. Instead, they began in the same place we must begin, for all Christ calls us to do within society at large must first be done in the local church. Jesus designated the church as the agent of God's sovereign work in the world...The church can make a difference in the lives of men.
The National Council is an autonomous and independent organization and is not affiliated with any one church. It receives assistance from any source wishing to contribute. Its decentralized structure is consciously organized along the same lines as the federal government of the United States. "Each local chapter is separately incorporated and governs its own affairs," Mr. Brabazon explains. "The board of the local chapter is elected by people in the community, so concerns of the community are all voiced. Two of these local board members are voting delegates at an annual national convention of the Council. The Board of Directors is elected from these delegates each year."
The Unification Church provides seed money -- usually $6000-12,000 -- for new chapters to get off the ground. The fleet of 250 trucks which the church recently pledged to NCCSA, along with our drivers, will help build up new chapters of NCCSA, whose first projects are usually food distribution. Fifty of these trucks are now in use, and Unification Church grants are leasing other trucks until the full fleet is on the road. On July 12 at East Garden, Father asked God's blessing on one truck representing the fleet, and offered a very long and deep prayer for NCCSA.
The seed money provided by the Unification Church, plus an annual grant of $6,000-$12,000 for each chapter, help the local chapters build to the point where they can solicit funds from other sources such as city, state, and federal governments, foundations, and companies. Washington D.C., for example, receives $12,000 a year from the national center of NCCSA, which comes from a Unification Church grant to NCCSA. But the yearly budget of the Washington chapter is $400,000," comments Mr. Brabazon.
Unification Church contributions help the local chapters in different ways than government or corporate funding usually does, whereby a certain amount of money is earmarked for specific projects which will continue only for a limited time. The seed money from Unification grants, however, can be used in any way the local chapter sees fit, as long as it fulfills the IRS standards for tax exemption. This means that each local chapter can tailor its programs to the unique and sometimes shifting needs of its own community.
Another benefit of the Unification grant of 250 trucks is that networking of NCCSA chapters, and of groups within each community, can take place to a degree never before possible. Before NCCSA w.is formed, most service work in communities was done by individual churches or civic groups, often resulting in piecemeal or redundant efforts. The NCCSA's ecumenical outlook, plus the trucks and drivers to transport the goods now at the Council's disposal, will allow many churches and organizations to pool resources and information.
Top right: Father and Mother take a short symbolic drive. Bottom right: Father sanctifies one of the 250 trucks with Holy Salt.
Father emphasizes that the private sector and the government share equal responsibility to help the poor and underprivileged. On the one hand, citizens should not simply wait for tax money and government bureaucracy to take care of social needs. Legislation and tax codes in America make an attractive base for businesses to donate money or goods to an organization such as NCCSA, because a significant tax break is given. On the other hand, the government cannot be effective without a working relationship with citizens at the grass roots level.
Because of its federal structure, NCCSA is set up so that connection with the grass roots level -- the needs of individual communities -- cannot be lost. Moreover, NCCSA is based on the idea that the local community takes responsibility to administer programs. Thus NCCSA provides a bridge between the city, state, and federal government. Father stressed the shared responsibility and need for cooperation between the government and the private sector in meeting the needs of the people as early as 1965, while in conversation with former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower at Gettysburg.
According to Father, religious organizations must provide the impetus for the private sector to fulfill its responsibility toward meeting the needs of communities. Such work will act as a catalyst for the revitalization of Christianity and the revival of the country. As churches reach out to serve the needs of local people, they will attract membership and will become the center of the community. As people see that the teachings of Christ are backed up with positive action, Christian values of morality, service, and family integrity, which have suffered a setback in the past few decades, will regain popularity and the whole of American society will experience renewed strength and vigor.
"The revival of Christianity comes not just by preaching the Gospel, but by living the Gospel," says Mr. Brabazon. "This is why NCCSA is important to Father. The foundation of the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be built without Christianity. But unless Christians are living the Gospel there is no way for Christianity to revive. It has to be done in the United States in order to have worldwide outreach. Unless Americans live the Gospel there is no way for Father in a short time to fulfill his mission."
NCCSA plans to branch out into a substantial international organization in the near future. Already a few chapters exist in the Caribbean, Africa and Europe. Mr. Brabazon sees a new Peace Corps-kind of organization growing out of an international NCCSA, but with a religious motivation behind it. The international NCCSA would have to be inter- religious as well as interdenominational, as the world is only one-quarter Christian. Most world religions emphasize service, charity, and concern for human well-being both in body and soul. Thus NCCSA work would help bring greater cooperation among world religions in the name of common service.
Mr. Brabazon also desires to see "a kind of religious United Nations" emerge from international NCCSA. The international organization would maintain a federal structure, and representatives would meet to discuss needs of countries and continental regions. Their discussion and work would include economic and cultural development, solving world hunger, housing services, strengthening the family, aiding the elderly, vocational education, and special services. "This body of religious leaders would become influential in terms of the human situation in all countries," says Mr. Brabazon. It could also work in cooperation with organizations such as the recently formed Association for the Unity of Latin America (AULA) and affiliate organizations on other continents. "Peace would take place on the religious level first," giving a common bedrock to the people (not nations) of the world, says Mr. Brabazon. "A bed- rock for political unity and peace could probably not be formed without a common feeling in religion, a feeling of shared humanity."
Father sees NCCSA as important in giving the poor and downtrodden an alternative to communism, both in America and abroad. "Communism arose out of the abuse of the Western materialistic system, and the negligence of Christianity in dealing with that [sys- tem]," comments Mr. Brabazon. "If Christianity is not neglectful of the needs of the poor and exploited, but helps them to develop and grow and take a role and have a voice in society, communism's base of accusation is taken away, and this takes away its power. Communist power lies only in accusation. They have no truly creative thoughts or actions -- that is why communist economics do not work. After you take the base of accusation away, nothing is left."
Unification Church members working in home church can become involved in NCCSA work, by making friends with local ministers and helping them set up a NCCSA chapter to provide service to the community near the church. This, as previously noted, would enrich church's life as well as that of the community. Says Mr. Brabazon, "Home church can play a vital role if members don't try to be 'Unification Church members' -- members of a particular denomination -- but go to their communities and community churches as Unificationists in the real sense."
Ministers active in NCCSA are fully dedicated to their work, even though they receive no pay. "They simply want to take responsibility for their communities," explains Mr. Brabazon. Last June Rev. Chambers gave a report on NCCSA to Unification Church state leaders in which he said 'that he and other ministers in NCCSA are willing to die for their cause. He asked the state leaders if they were willing to do the same. "The depth of commitment shown by these ministers puts some Unificationists' commitment to shame," admits Mr. Brabazon. "This is the real point of NCCSA. It makes us think of the additional commitment and faith we [Unificationists] need to realize our angels."
Father's commitment to NCCSA and, its goals is also total. In a message read by Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak to the annual NCCSA National Convention last March, Father said,
I have long thought that religious leaders must be pioneers in the realm of conscience, inspiring mankind by their bold and determined actions. My basic goal -- the goal of all Christians -- is to comfort the suffering and longing heart of God, the heart of Jesus, the heart of all humanity, and to help establish God's kingdom on this earth, once and for am determined to contribute to a new outpouring of ecumenical effort for renewal -- the renewal of our lives, our churches, and our society.