Unification News for July 2003
Blessing 2003 Chicago
by Bruce Sutchar
What an experience! It was such a peaceful easy spirit. But how much effort it took to create Blessing. Dr. Yang, Rev. Jenkins and Bishop Kim looked so handsome in their tuxedos. We all missed the presence of True Parents, but could also feel Godís pride that his children, Dr. Yang, Rev. Jenkins and Bishop Kim were standing in and taking responsibility for this historic Blessing 2003 in Chicago.
The very first weekend after we did our initial mailing, over 120 ministers sent their registration forms back to our church. Bishop Kim was amazed at this phenomenon.
Then, our three key ministers all left town for Washington, DC. Dr. A. Harold White and Rev. Bennie Owens both left for a week, in order to attend the American Freedom Initiative, the Divine Principle Seminar and the Middle East Peace Conferences in Washington, DC. In addition, Pastor T.L. Barrett, who was hosting the Blessing, went bouncing back and forth between, Washington, DC, Chicago, UTS and the nationís capital.
I mean this was one week before the nationwide blessing in Chicago. But Bishop Kim did not say a word of complaint or issue one statement of fear or concern. (Later, when it was all completed, Mrs. Kim mentioned that he did not sleep at home even one time in the month prior to the Blessing -- as he spent so many late nights coordinating every minute detail at the church). And God would send us a power surge at the last minute as our 2 Chicago evangelists,
Sister Yukimi (24 hours a day on the telephone -- she has every ministers private number this side of heaven) -- Lemont, and Hitoshi (Praise the Lord) Onishi back to Chicago from UTS, to help make straight the way of the Lord. And then three days before the blessed event, Rev. Jenkins and Bishop Stallings arrived with spiritual guns loaded, accompanied by 5 of Israelís finest -- four professors and our beloved Israeli member Shelley to help prepare the way. As any of you who know Rev. Jenkins can imagine, EVERY minute of the next three days was utilized in preparation.
First we had an Hispanic prayer dinner (the Hispanic Community had pledged to bring 300 of the 1200 couples coming to the blessing (and led by Jon and Marina Acevedo and Rev. Jesse Avila (who also brought his parents all the way from Mexico) they would more than succeed.
Then we held banquets on both the West and South Sides of Chicago.
And the spirit was raging. By the time Archbishop Stallings (complete with Sayomi and George Jr.) and Rev. Jenkins took center stage, the room was already aflame with righteousness.
Our Israeli guests, testified to the power of taking down the cross, our ministers cried, repented and hallelujahed, and the holy spirit led the way up the mountain to July 5th blessing.
Several years ago when True Mother spoke to us after her speech in Chicago she gave us the following guidance. She said that now the spirit world will help us so much more than ever before. She told us that from now on with the same amount of effort; we will be able to bring much greater result. I really want to give testimony to this fact.
One example is with my spiritual child. She is a professor of World religions at a local Chicago land college, who is an Egyptian Coptic Christian. She has been to the American Leadership Conference and most recently on our trip to Rome and Israel (where she paid indemnity for being an Egyptian boarding an Israeli airline. She had to wait 4 hours in the security office where they accused her of trying to bring anthrax disguised as Epsom salt onto the plane). In all the years that I have known her I have only met her wonderful engineer husband 2 or 3 times, for he is on call 24 X 7 for Commonwealth Edison. One time was when they invited me to meet the Patriarch of Alexandria when he came to Chicago. So when I invited her to the blessing, she gave me a lukewarm, maybe. I challenged her and said that I was going to pull out all of the ICONS that I bought when I was in Russia and pray that she and her husband could attend. Then, right in the middle of the July 4th fireworks, my cell phone started top ring. She was on the other end of the line and she said, "Well, I guess you must really have been praying -- because we are going to be there tomorrow for the blessing. And they came and they had a wonderful time. Somehow, I just donít think that this would have happened several years ago -- the spirit world is really working and bringing concrete results more than ever.
At our celebration Sunday service in Chicago, Bishop Kim told us how happy True Parents were at the outcome of the event. He told Bishop Kim that it was a success, even before Bishop Kim could even utter one word of report. Father just told him that from Bishop Kimís very voice, Father could tell that the event was a great success.
The event was truly a national level event, not a Chicago event. I could tell this last week, when I visited Columbus, Ohio. I could tell that everyone was preparing to descend on Chicago in one week. And in fact this is just what happened. We had 43 nationalities represented. We had Palestinians hugging Israelis, Hindus hugging Moslems, Sufis, Seeks, Imams, Rabbis, professors, Hispanics, Latin Americans (who comprised a significant number of blessing couples -- as per the commitment of the Latin American Community in Chicago led by Jon and Marina Acevedo and Jesse Avila and Santiago. We had Africans in full tribal garb from Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa, North Africa, Central Africa and the rest. There were Chinese, Burmese, Himalayan, Philippine, Thai, and of course Japanese and Korean. This could only happen because of the national level spirit world kicking in full blast. Probably the biggest challenge was to end the program before midnight -- we began about 11am!.
I donít want to give individual accolades, but our host Pastor Dr. T.L. Barrett, Jr. was a magnificent host. And he is a great fundraiser, donating the first $100 of what turned out to be over a $7,000 offering.
Inspiration readings and prayers were offered by Dr. Shuki Ben Ami (one of 5 Israelis who had come to Chicago after participating in the conferences in Israel and the middle East Peace Conference in Washington, DC last week), Rev. James Porter (who can be seen holding the Jerusalem Declaration in Israel as the participants signed it, rev Leroy Elliott (no one and I mean no one prays like Rev. Elliott who challenged the congregation to repeat in unison, what God has put together, "let no man put asunder," (MT: 19:6) and Dr. McGhee.
Archbishop Stallings explained the meaning of the Blessing. Dr. H.G. McGhee read the cloud of witnesses. Bishop Earnest Hamilton almost missed his plane out of Chicago, so he could stay to offer the invocation (rumor has it that Rev. Jenkins would not let him leave). Representative prayers were offered from Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The clergy celebrants included Dr. and Mrs. A. Harold White, Pastor and Mrs. T.L. Barrett, Jr. (many of whose children were also present), Archbishop and Mrs. G. Augustus Stallings, and Bishop and Mrs. Ki Hoon Kim.
Dr. and Mrs. Chang Shik Yang were the officiators. Proclamations and letters of congratulations and greetings were read by Rev. Jenkins from US Speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert congratulating our Founders directly by name, the State of Illinois and our dear friend, Secretary of State Jesse C. White, and Congressman Danny K. Davis (who just last week hosted 79 members of Congress at our American Leadership Initiative in Washington, D.C.)
The entertainment was wonderful, including Rev. Monet Beverlyís youth dancing ensemble, "Models of Christ," which included several of our Indiana 2nd generation sisters, our incredible True Family Values (ever growing bigger) Choir and Life Centerís own Mime troupe. All it was topped off by an incredible performance from Mrs. Seko Lee near the conclusion of the ceremony. 50 solid gold rings were distributed to the raffle winners and then Dr. and Mrs. Yang led the standing-room-only crowd on 4 cheers of Ok-Mansei.
We concluded the event with a splendid catered buffet while guests remained for hours, as the spirit was so high that nobody seemed to want to leave.
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