Unification News for April 2003
Take Down the Cross Service - Chicago, IL
by Rev. Owens
As Rev. Randall would later say, it wasn't a Good Friday it was a great Friday. The day April 18, 2003 started out with an incredible Baptist Holy Day. Rev. Henry Hardy's Cosmopolitan Community Church hosted the all day event (literally 6 hours featuring 7 of the leading Baptist ministers in Chicago, each preaching on one of Jesus last 7 words. Chicago's patron saint and Baptist icon Clay Evans gave such a moving sermon on, "My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?" Rev. Gregory Macon served as the Moderator for the Day. Rev. Macon is celebrating his anniversary this month. We had worshipped with him this past Sunday as he had invited ACLC Co-Convenor Pastor T.L. Barrett to give the word on Sunday afternoon.
Rev. Macon, one of Pastor Barrett's spiritual sons, returned from Memphis, Tennessee to take over the reins at Pastor Amos Waller's Mercy Seat MB Church. This was the church that really launched Rev. Jenkins preaching career. It was also the host church for our first Chicago blessing in 1995. Representing Bishop Ki Hoon Kim and Rev. Michael Jenkins, I was welcomed with open arms. Upon my return home, I told my wife that every major Baptist preacher in Illinois was present in the service. My wife then asked me, if God was also present. But I could say, yes he was. This was not a "political" or social service. It was 6 hours of ministers and congregants celebrating the life of Jesus and celebrating the greatness and the goodness of God.
So the holy spirit was already really high as we arrived at Twelve Gates MBC on Friday evening to join senior pastor Rev. A.P. Randall and Rev. Bennie Owens to usher in their Good Friday, Take Down the Cross service.
The brand new West Side church was filled beyond capacity with over 20 pastors and 200 members in the congregation. As she always does, Rev. Owens had prepared a meticulous service to honor our God and our True Parents. The family federation flag hangs boldly on the wall of the brand new pastor's office.
ACLC Co-Convenor Dr. A. Harold White gave the first word of Luke 23:34. He was immediately followed by Milwaukee's Bishop John T. Bishop Witherspoon arrived in the sanctuary wearing his red Bishops Cloak
And sporting a golden jeweled crown upon his head. Bishop Witherspoon has already taken down the cross in his church. He now tells the members of his congregation that from now on I will carry only the crown. (Bishop Witherspoon not only took down the cross from his church two week ago, but every Thursday he is teaching DP at his church. The day before Good Friday he held a DP class and lectured about the Messiah's mission and testified that True Parents are the Second Coming messiah. Rev. Isaac Strong, Sr. a veteran of CAUSA and Common Suffering for over 20 years spoke honestly and eloquently as his Fisk University Degree would expect him to exhibit. He was followed by Rev. Owens and Rev. Sutchar. Then Rev. Randall with his purple robes flying brought down the house as he waxed so eloquently the sermonette; "It is finished." (Rev. Randall, who is very short, as been described by saying, dynamite comes in small packages). To conclude, Rev. Joseph McAfee paid homage to Bishop Kim and our True Parents preaching on, Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit." Rev. McAfee will host the Sunday Easter Service entitled, "Taking Down the Cross" and he has invited Bishop Ki Hoon Kim to deliver the message.
Finally, Rev. Owens had each pastor exchange their cross for the ACLC crown pin. Some of them will bring the cross to Israel and participate in its burial. Three churches asked to hold this service before rev. Owens, Twelve Gates Church was chosen. And again, on Easter Sunday, Pastor McAfee's Central United Community Church will host the service to Take down the Cross. 19 churches in Chicago, 9 in Milwaukee and 7 in Detroit will host the same kind of service.
For all of us, as we prepare and reflect on this Easter weekend, we need to only open our eyes to be amazed at the incredible response that True Parent's direction is getting from our Christian ministers.
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