Unification News for September 2003
ACLC of Georgia Monthly Meeting
by Rev. Tom Cutts
The American Clergy Leadership Conference of Georgia held its monthly dinner program on August 21, 2003 at the Atlanta Family Church. Dinner was served from 6pm until 6:45pm and the program ran from 7:10pm until 9:30pm. Recognizing Rev. Sun Myung Moon as the founder of the ACLC, the Chief Executive Officer of one of the metropolitan Atlanta counties declared August 21, 2003 as American Clergy Leadership Conference Day in that county.
The event was well attended with over 300 participants paying their registration fee of $5. And the uplifting spirit of the event was felt by many. Several guests remarked that they wanted to see this kind of program conducted all over America. This was the first ACLC event for one evangelist who has appeared on national television. She said, "I'm joining this group. I spend a lot of time with other organizations, but they are just wasting my time. What you are doing is really the work of God."
The theme of the event was "Celebrating the Family." And we had a great celebration. We presented Lasting Love Awards and Excellence in Parenting Awards, performed a Marriage Blessing and heard remarks from Muslims and Christians, promoting better understanding between the members of Abraham's family.
Since October 2001, the ACLC ministers have meet at least once a month. Often we will have an Executive Committee meeting and a public program in the same month. At first we met in different churches, but for over a year now, our meetings have generally been held only at the Atlanta Family Church. Every once in a while we will have a meeting at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel near the airport. This is the hotel where True Father spoke during the 50-state tour in 2001.
It has proven to be very helpful holding the event at the same location each month for several reasons. First, the location of the Atlanta Family Church is convenient. It also makes planning easier, and there are not many other churches that are able to host a big dinner. And finally, everyone knows where the meeting will be held from month to month.
We meet on the last Thursday of the month. One month we will meet for dinner (6pm-9pm), and the next month we meet for lunch (10:30am-1:30pm). This variety of times allows ministers to participate who cannot otherwise come for an evening program, or cannot attend a luncheon.
We are also beginning to get a lot of support from the ministers themselves. They are beginning to feel that the ACLC is their movement, and are inviting their own colleagues to the programs.
Over 53 ministers from Georgia have received national level Divine Principle training. We made great effort to send pastors to the Ocean City and Chicago training whenever those opportunities came up. The Atlanta Family Church also offers a Divine Principle Academy for Clergy. This class meets every Monday from 10:30am until 12 noon. Five pastors have graduated from a four-month course which covered everything from the Principle of Creation to the Second Coming of Christ.
Many of the ACLC ministers were challenged by the Cloud of Witnesses materials when those readings came out in 2002, and several pastors distanced themselves from us at that time. But with the opportunity to study the Divine Principle, the pastors that hung in there are getting stronger and stronger in their conviction that Jesus is anointing this movement. Now, some of pastors who left ACLC are beginning to reconnect after their one year hiatus.
In addition to the Divine Principle training, eight ministers from Atlanta also participated in the first pilgrimage to Israel.
Several other dimensions of our ACLC work in Atlanta has been 1) the unity between the Regional Director, and the Atlanta Family Church ministers, 2) the sacrificial activities of the Japanese missionaries, 3) the support of the community leaders, and 4) the cooperation of the church members. For five years now, Rev. Kim has held a weekly 2-3 hour leadersí meeting at the church. This has really helped facilitate communication between the various departments and missions, and has promoted unity within the church.
The Atlanta Family Church members feel a sense of ownership for contacting and caring for ministers. During the monthly events, everyone pools together to clean the church, to provide meals for the event, to register and welcome the guests, and to provide good audio-visual support.
During the August 21st event, Lasting Love Awards were presented to five "married-a-long-time" couples. Three couples had been married longer than most of the members of the audience had been a live. One husband and wife have been married for 63 years. Two other couples have been married for 60 and 57 years. We also presented Excellence in Parenting Awards to individuals and couples who exhibited special care for their own children and for children in the community. One couple cared for two of their own children, adopted four others, and provided foster care for 14 other children. Another couple offered foster care particularly to children with mental disorders.
Rev. Man Ho Kim, Chairman of the ACLC of Georgia and Regional Director of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, extended a welcome to all present. He noted that as sons and daughters of the same Heavenly Father, we are all brothers and sisters. He also remarked that all genuine religions recognize a Creator who is an omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent spirit, whose essence is Unconditional Love. And this Unconditional Love is what motives all religious expression.
Our Muslim/Christian dialogue included five panelists who helped us gain a better and deeper understanding of each other's faith. The panel included Rev. Dr. Gloria W. Wright, an A.M.E. Zion pastor; Rev. Dr. Henry Mason, a Southern Baptist pastor; Dr. Khalid Siddiq, the Director of the largest mosque in Atlanta (he is originally from Pakistan); President Darrell Campbell, Mormonís Georgia Atlanta Mission; and Mrs. Shaheedah Muhammad, a member of the Muslim American Society. The theme of the conversation was the role of the Church, Mosque and Synagogue in Strengthening Family. The speakers considered not only strengthening the nuclear family, but also spoke on reconciling differences between Christianity, Islam and Judaism - healing the family of Abraham.
Dr. Wright wanted us to not emphasize our doctrinal differences, but to consider our commonalties including the Golden Rule, and virtues of service, humility, faithfulness, honesty, forgiveness and mercy.
One speaker noted that our divisions have been managed by an outside force, and this has placed artificial differences upon us. And we also have a nature that tends to draw circles around ourselves, and exclude anyone outside that circle.
Dr. Siddiq suggested that the media has manipulated language to denigrate religion. We should all be fundamentalists if that means to get back to what is basic. Also, the adjective "Muslim" has been abused by the media. Instead of reporting about a "Saudi terrorist", the media reports the activities of a "Muslim terrorist".
A highlight of our August program was the Marriage Blessing of Dr. Henry Mason and Mrs. Angie Mason. They were recently married. Dr. Mason is an ACLC of Georgia Executive Committee member, and participated in the pilgrimage to Israel. He had been a widower caring for four children. The bride and groom were presented with necklaces of colorful paper flowers strung together. These beautiful leis were handmade by the Japanese missionaries. Rev. and Mrs. Man Ho Kim administered the Holy Wine, and Rev. Jean B. Kasongo, Vice Regional Director of the FFWPU sealed the Blessing with a prayer. The Japanese missionaries sang a celebration song, and a Marriage Cake was cut by the newly weds and the five Lasting Love Award couples.
It was noted that one of the ways a church can promote stronger families and encourage a marriage culture is to recognize couples who have been married a long time, recognize good examples of parenting, and perform the Marriage Blessing.
Rev. Tom Cutts was the Master of Ceremonies of the event, which began with an invocation offered by a United Methodist pastor. Throughout the evening we enjoyed some outstanding musical talent. Ms. Keaver Brenai delighted us with her purity and crystal clear voice. And Pastor Mack and the King's HouseChoir had every member of the audience on their feet with the choir's spirited performances.
We also viewed the video, "The Power of True Love", with the memorable remarks by Rev. Leroy Elliot, and Dr. E. V. Hill. The program was concluded with a benediction from Apostle Willie R. Malcom, Presiding District Apostle of the Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ. He is also on the ACLC National Executive Committee. We were dismissed to enjoy cake and punch in the fellowship hall. Even though the program concluded later than planned, people stayed long after the end of the program, socializing for another forty minutes.
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