Unification News for April 2003

"Tear down the Cross" Ceremony - Bronx, New York

Removal of the Cross at the Pentecostal Family Center of the pastor, Archbishop Dr. Angel M. Torres in the Bronx, New York on April 18, 2003 . The program was officially titled the True Holy Friday, Re-enactment of Jesus' Crucifixion and "From The Cross To The Crown." Archbishop Torres welcomed a full crowd in attendance that was a standing room only. He welcomed everyone to this True Holy Friday with gladly saying that it was not as much for the cross but rather for the Resurrection because for our people the cross has been a curse with the cross shaped he believed to be Y shaped to signify Yahweh who was wrongly treated and ridiculed to the end. He said the miracle is that of the Resurrection. All of us together united this evening is a real miracle.

Rev. Mrs. Zulma Torres attended along with their daughter-in-law(graduated from Columbia University) and members of the Church. Mrs. Torres remained for the entire program and she gave the Invocation prayer to start off the evening program. All the time she was very happy and expressed complete agreement during the program.

This whole evening has been truly made possible because of the leadership and inspiration of Bishop Dong Woo Kim who so faithful and powerfully conveys the direction and desire of the True Parents for this particular historical event of the Holy Friday service of removing the cross together with the consent and supportive agreement of the pastors. The Archbishop Torres truly listens to and respects the Bishop Kim so there is the foundation of mutual trust and confidence that made this evening really possible. One thing leads to another. There has been no hesitation at all with Bishop Torres.

The Bishop Kim gave a very clear and inspiring explanation of the evening's purpose and its history. I could see that the ministers did agree and support his ideas with his explanation on the points of tradition, symbols and truth and Jesus' meaning. We were thankful to Bishop Kim's detailed and simple observations leading us up to the Resurrection and letting go freely, prayerfully of the Cross for the Crown.

Next, the Bronx Family Youth Drama Committee presented a vivid and dramatically touching re-enactment of the Crucifixion. With the spot lighting, costuming, background music for effect, clear and emphatic reading of the exact Biblical version of the Crucifixion by Mrs. Lorna Galvan, and the heartistic preparation of the Bronx members the audience ,particularly the ministers, expressed an appreciation and sentimentality with the salvational touch played out so well. The sounds of silence showed that everybody got something real out of the dramatic replay of Jesus' last hours before death by the Cross. This presentation was effective because the approach with its emphasis on Jesus' love and sacrifice and being made lonely hit the ministers right at home with a love for Jesus and a new focus on the victory of the Resurrection. The tapping sound of the make believe nailing of Jesus with the two criminals by his side left people with a reflection type realness indicating that we have to take Jesus off his cross and finally remove the cross. The Christians are more and more turning to this type of historical re-enactment of the particular play like Jesus' crucifixion. The Church members were excellent with their seriousness, delivery, and their unity. They just wanted to do Father's Will.

Then Rev. Dr. Edward Chambers , pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Williamsbridge in the Bronx spoke supportive words and shared how good for him and his Church that we work together. He brought his wife, son, and membership. He told us how meaningful the day was because we had just spent 31/2 hours in service listening to the reading and commentary of Jesus' Last Seven Words together at his Church and he really liked and appreciated ACLC rep. Rev. Esteban Galvan's participation.

He gave special emphasis that this day was important not for the cross but for the sacrifice of Christ not for one church, one family, one nation but that He gave his life for the sake of others, that is , all of mankind. He's been with us now for two years, completed 4 day DP seminar in Chicago, and he really hopes that our relationship will only get better. He's a loving person and is becoming really bonded with us in love and truth.

During the evening , we heard inspiring and new music appropriate with the evening and the occasion from the Bronx membership ACLC singing chorus. They sang Jesucristo, Gloria, Gloria, Halleluya, and Pescador de Hombres.

Archbishop Torres gave the main message of True Holy Friday and he was hot. As he put so well, 'Don't invite a Spanish Rabbi speak if you don't think it's not going to be long and hot.' He's said more than once that he's very clear that for him it's not the Cross. He's put it away and is one with our explanation of taking down of the Cross. He's not just doing it for this evening but getting behind this event and leaving the cross to rest. It's over and done with as he's said. Going back to the finale of the Crucifixion the Archbishop and Mrs. Torres together during the drama removed the thorny head piece from Jesus' head with the crown of gold indicating their feeling that Jesus should be seen in His love and glory not thorns and gore. His powerful and apocalyptic preaching gave us the seriousness of this evening in this being a true miracle that we're together and nobody should be less or better than anyone else and we're all equal before God. We should love each other. He really gave his testimony in its realness and emphasized why he wants to work so hard with ACLC and its foundation of "family value". He put it very strongly that no one was supposed to hang on the cross, least of all, Jesus. He spoke against prejudice of all kinds. He testified that when he attended True Father at East Garden he caught that story, metaphor of the light bulb and the message of black and white and having love and respect for all races and colors, with no hate toward anyone. He added how ACLC has brought True Family Values and at that point in his presentation he publicly apologized to his wife and how at times in his long ministry how he had forgotten her or not been enough for her. He had given his first sermon 53 years ago. He explained of a recent personal tragedy and he said we have to be like True Parents. I believe he made a nice spiritual slip that maybe he didn't totally know what he was saying. But this is good.

Next in the program, Bishop Moses De La Rosa testified how his life had been a blessing because of Jesus' healing him and giving miracles. He made reference how he'd been persecuted and told not to work with ACLC and he said 'as long as God does not persecute me, I'm fine.' Meaning, he's in with ACLC and he's not leaving us. He's got a very deep heart. He gave emphasis to Jesus' foundation and his work with ACLC and not the cross symbol. The words were good and well taken by everyone.

The high point of the evening came here when Archbishop Torres hand in hand took up the life-sized cross which traditionally was situated in the center of the altar , he removed from the altar, carrying the cross over his shoulder, leading all the clergy present in a procession from the altar through the church aisle and to the back out the door , chanting Halleyuah, together in unison, leading the clergy back to the front of the altar without the cross.

The evening didn't stop there because the spirit got higher and the Archbishop got more zealous and together with the clergy assisting he 'laid the cross down' on the altar to rest with the full intention of lifting up the resurrected Jesus. And everyone joined in with singing Jesucristo and everyone in the Church was waving a white handkerchief in praise and in spirit of the Victory of the Love of Son of God , Jesus and his resurrection everyone united in song and praise, giving thanks. Oh, God the evening was a True Holy Friday that all who participated and witnessed will be talking about and wanting to have in their Churches. So the evening didn't seem so radical and heretical. In the closing, Archbishop Torres and Bishop Kim embraced and everyone was happy. Rev. Dr. Margia De La Rosa gave ;us the final benediction. She is great.

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