Unification News for February 2004
Reflections on the February 4 Banquet - A Midwestern Jewish Boy goes to Washington
by Joshua and Caleb as told to Rabbi Bruce Sutchar
On January 2, 1987, I was the State leader of a remote western region called Wyoming: I had just graduated from seminary, was actually living in the same city with my wife and had just celebrated the birth of my first male child. Since my Father had never seen his first grandson, my wife Ilse and I decided to travel to Florida for Christmas before heading up to the New Yorker for Godís Day.
After a wonderful and glorious Godís Day (we had barely made it walking down from the Greyhound Bus Station on 8th avenue carrying so much baby stuff that our luggage carrier disintegrated) we returned to the Grand Ballroom for the Leaders Meeting on January 2nd. Suddenly, without warning, Father asked the 1976 foreign missionaries if they felt that it was time for Father to send out a fresh new batch of missionaries. They answered with a resounding, YES! Then Father began to read off the names of about 70 American leaders who would immediately be sent to Africa.
This became the AFC Africa mission in which 70 American leaders were sent first to Princeton, New Jersey with Dr. Bo Hi Pak and then out all across America to establish a political base in each of the 50 states from which God could help to save America.
Now 17 years later, the AFC was being asked to bring the top Ambassadors for Peace to Washington, DC along with their Congressmen and Senators to celebrate the life and accomplishments of our True Parents.
From Illinois, we had the blessing to bring 6 wonderful people. These would include Dr. Charles Knox, a huge (in stature and in heart) nearly blind (diabetes) African American leader who had served with Dr. King in Des Moines, Iowa and had helped to lead our 2003 Chicago Service for Peace project; Rev. Alexander Isaiah Dunlap, a 40 year veteran of the civil rights movement, who has survived the Ku Klux Klan (on many occasions), 40 imprisonments and serious persecution for standing up and defending our True Parents; Dr. Paul Swanson, a 20 year veteran of our movement on every level (Dr. Swanson has a tendency to keep us in line theologically and heartistically; Ms. Linda Yang, a contact of our wonderful Chinese CARP leader Yeqing Li; Mrs. Jeanette Kravitz, a vibrant lady who is sending music and service projects all over the world, who was Jamal Johnsonís CARP dinner guest (brothers and sisters, please keep witnessing!); and Rev. Claude Shelby a veteran of the civil rights movement who is a guest of our wonderful and powerhouse Japanese missionary Chizuru Quigley, in the remote town of Champaign, Illinois.
We were initially told that each state could only bring one guest (maybe about 30 all told from all across America). Yet under the able AFC leadership of that old North Dakotan "never say die" Dr. Carl Swearson, Illinois was able to bring each of these wonderful God fearing Americans to be in Washington, DC on February 4th.
I was especially grateful that Carl Swearson had pushed me to invite Rev. A.I. Dunlap. Rev. Dunlapís civil rights history is literally inscribed on the back pages of one of those old wallpaper books. After Fatherís 50 city tour, True Parents photographer Ken Owens stated that Rev. Dunlap was the most photogenic of all of the people he had photographed all across America. (noteÖTrue Father once stated that the most beautiful sight in the eyes of God was to see a black face, with white teeth and a red tongue -- and no one fits this description better than Shepherd (as he likes to be called) A.I. Dunlap. And especially for Rev. Dunlap, the programís tribute to Civil Rights icon and Dr. Kingís Chief of Staff, Wyatt Tee Walker meant so much, because the two young men had worked together throughout the civil rights movement. Likewise, our dear friend Dr. Paul Swanson, who has fought so many battles with us over the past 20+ years has been ill much of the last year and has had to miss many of our programs and even our pilgrimages to Israel. But in Washington, he was just so happy to be invited and included in the program. And he felt so humbled to have been given the crown of peace award and to be included with such a dignified and qualified group of citizens.
The day before the event we all went witnessing on capitol hill.
Our group included an Israeli couple (Dr. Joshua "Shuki" and Shoshana "Shush" Ben-Ami, Dr. Amer Hassan and his wife (Muslim Israeli citizens) and an assortment of others. And believe you me, if we did not confound, confuse and amaze the congressmen whom we visited. I mean, think about it, 2 Jewish Israelis and 2 Muslim Arabs walking into their offices holding hands. We were able to share with the Jewish chief of staff of a New York Jewish Congressman, Congressman Danny K Davis and Utah Mormon Congressman Chris Cannon. They were just amazed (and so was I).
(aside-- I think one of the deepest experiences that I will ever remember will be seeing Rabbi David Ben-Ami hugging his Palestinian brother on the stage at the United Nations last October. And then Pentecostal Jesse Edwards gluing the couple together for ever. And I shared this awesome experience with Minister Louis Farrakhan a short time later. Its not the answer, but it certainly is a beginning).
I will let the report cover the event itself. Let me suffice it to say that the program itself tugged at many hearts and brought tears to more than a few. I watched several of my guests as prayers were offered. Especially moving was Sheila Baerís rendition of the Lordís Prayer, which just silenced the house.
Congressman Danny Davis read Fatherís poem "Crown of Glory" as only he can.
The ceremonies of reconciliation were really too beautiful to justly describe.
And Bishop Stallings direct testimony to True Fatherís messiahship was incredible. (Afterward when I went over to hug him and thank him, he only said, pointing up to heaven, that it was God and not him who had done the speaking. He felt that he was merely a channel for God to speak.
All in all, I felt that not only was the program quite beautiful, but that it had perfected much of what had happened on stage December 22nd in Jerusalem. I felt that on this stage, in the Ronald Reagan building, what we were doing -- the crowning of Jesus, the Jewish--Christain--Muslim reconciliation -- and the anointing of our True Parents, was 100% clear to everyone in the room.
The next morning we were blessed to have Rev. Kwak, Dr. Yang, Rev. Jenkins and Rev. Flynn at Hoon Dok Hae. This was a beginning.
We were told that Father was happy and that he had accepted our offering. 40 Congressmen and 2 Senators had attended. The poison in the Dirksen Senate Office building had merely sent us into a newer, bigger and more beautiful building. We had met many congressional leaders and so many wonderful guests had attended an IIFWP program for the very first time.
We are moving forward at breakneck speed!
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