Unification News for September 2002
Holy Marriage Couples Blessing in Los Angeles,
by BillieAnn Sabo
We began working on the 3rd step blessing the beginning of August. We held a meeting with some of our core ACLC and asked them where they would be most inspired to hold this blessing; at a hotel, in a church, or at Pasadena House, real True Parent's home. Unanimously, they said Pasadena House. So, based upon that, we created all our outreach materials, in English and Spanish, very quickly and began our visitation.
We were focused on all clergy and religious couples who did not attend the April 27th or July 3rd blessings. Our missionaries were very few, most tribal messiahs were back to work at their jobs, and our full time church outreach witnessing team graduated the end of July. And True Mother's 12 city speaking tour was announced with one of the locations being Los Angeles. We were being very challenged, but absolutely we knew we had to give 100% of ourselves to make the blessing as beautiful and victorious as the previous two otherwise how could we offer this to God and how could we use this as a foundation to bring victory for the speech tour. Our Regional Director, Rev. Baek Joong Ku, left for Korea in August, as did the other RD's, so we jumped in with both feet with great determination to fulfill our missions.
In August, we started our Friday One Day Divine Principle Minister Workshops for our core ACLC, so it gave us a chance to meet with them on a regular basis over dinner. Our main topic of conversation was the blessing and how to bring a victory. We also had frequent meetings with all of our community families to keep the spirit high and everyone full of energy.
Pasadena House on Sept. 14th, 2002 was a wonderful, beautiful place to hold the blessing ceremony. Much better than a hotel and also less costly. Our weather in Los Angeles has been hot, hot, hot for the past two weeks and this was to be an outside "garden wedding". But no problem last Saturday, it was hot, but a very nice breeze was blowing. The side yard of Pasadena House was transformed into a beautiful holy wedding place. A stage was built for the occasion all in white with golden sponge marks. White chairs were rented and decorated with pink and white wedding bells and bows. At the entrance of the rows of chairs, was a wonderful wedding arch decorated with white net and pink, white, green & yellow flowers. The balcony where they registered had wedding decorations all down the railing and flower pots bursting with fresh flowers. Everything looked heavenly!
All couples arrived between 8:00am and 9:00am. After they went through registration, the brides were given veils and wedding bouquets and the grooms were given carnation corsages. All couples wore white gloves. Some of the brides wore their original wedding dresses! We had a rainbow of races, denominations and cultures. Mostly they were African-American and Spanish couples, but we also had some Islamic guests as well as two Imams. We started at 9:30am with the entrance of the 12 concelebrant couples, followed by our 45 blessing couples. Our total attendance, including observers & members, was over 250. The Sadoc Christian Choir performed a very high-spirited rendition of "Marvelous" after that.
We displayed an American flag on the stage since this was the 1st anniversary of Sept 11th and the National Anthem was song. Our first invocation was given by Rev. Leroy Shepard, ACLC Executive Committee member and pastor of Son Shine Bible Church. The second invocation was given by Imam Ghazaly Salim, of the Indo-Chinese Muslim Mosque. Following that was the new Blessing of Peace video tape. This tape was very popular. Guests and members really enjoyed watching this. They found it very inspiring and a great interfaith testimony to True Parents. After the video, Rev. Joe Waller, Co-Convenor ACLC of Los Angeles conducted the holy wine ceremony and benediction prayer. As soon as his prayer was finished, our own Japanese Choir sang Grace of the Holy Garden.
We chose not to connect to the webcast link to New York, but instead we did a "live" blessing. The blessing address was given by Rev. Tim Henning, VRD of Los Angeles followed by congratulatory remarks from Rev. James Dillard, Pastor of Christ Full Gospel MBC; Dr. E. Boyd Esters, Pastor of Community MBC; and Imam Tarique Aquil, Director of the Islamic Social Services Foundation in Los Angeles. Each gave very well thought out comments keeping our ceremony time schedule in check. Our entire program was a mixture of Christian & Muslim, a real Interfaith & Reconciliation Blessing Ceremony. Following the speeches, was the Entrance of Attendants and the Officiators, our Regional Director, Rev. & Mrs. Baek Joong Ku. After that was the holy water ceremony, vows, invocation, ring exchange, proclamation, flowers, then the congratulatory song by our Japanese Choir. They sang a beautifully harmonized version of Shining Fatherland sung in Japanese. Rev. & Mrs. Ku led the celebration cheer before the attendants and officiator couples recessed. Our love offering was taken and then all couples gathered together for their group picture.
The final part of the program was led by MC Rev. J.L. Briggs, ACLC clergy and pastor of the Christian Light MBC. We had a wonderful Chinese catered banquet lunch. During the eating time, the Sadoc Christian Choir performed again, as well as our Japanese Choir, followed by a Spanish group.
Some minister's testimonies were given. We held a door prize drawing the prize being a wonderful 3-day 2 nights all expense paid trip to Hawaii!!! A new Spanish couple won the prize. They had just been met one week before and at the last moment, almost didn't attend. WOW… were they glad they did. They were already totally inspired and uplifted from the blessing (she wore a wedding dress), but now even more so with winning the trip. We closed in song, prayer & 3 cheers of mansei.
It was a great blessing event. It was a lot more work than holding this at a hotel because we had to do all the set up and take down, but our guests absolutely fell in love with the "atmosphere" and whole ambiance of True Parents property. Before the program was over, we were able to make a strong announcement for True Mother's speech in Los Angeles and give hand outs. But a really good point of holding it here was the totally unity of our community members, full time members and Japanese missionaries. We not only worked hard together to bring the result, but we also worked hard to give our guests a day they will always remember.
Our ministers are growing and catching fire in Los Angeles. We gratefully offer all result to God and True Parents and give a special thank you to our Regional Director, Rev. Baek Joong Ku who always inspires us to be the best we can be. He helps us to challenge ourselves. Through unity with the central figure, we can have unity with each other which makes for strong determination & hard work. Our motto is strong in Los Angeles: We Can Do -- Never Give Up!
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