Unification News for July 2004

Northeast Block Leaders Summit on Witnessing

by Rev. Phillip Schanker

The Northeast Block, comprised of Regions 2 (Metro New York), 3 (New Jersey), 4 (Boston), 5 (Connecticut), 6 (Northern New England) and 22 (Upstate New York), held a leadership meeting on May 18-19, 2004 at the Unification Theological Seminary in Barrytown, New York. The meetingís purpose was to evaluate the first 40 days of witnessing and outreach, to share each regionís ideas, innovations and challenges, learn from each other, and make necessary adjustments for the coming 40 days. In addition to each Regional Director and Vice-Regional Director, key Tribal Messiah leaders attended from each region, making a total of around 25 participants. Reverend Phillip Schanker attended on behalf of National HQ, to dialogue, support and understand the field situation more deeply.

Beginning with lunch on Tuesday, May 18, each region reported its 40-day developments fully and freely, welcoming questions for clarification and understanding. The following morning was dedicated to discussing the challenges each region faces that may limit witnessing development, and considering strategic adjustments to meet those challenges. The meeting ended with lunch on the 2nd day, after viewing the new video from HQ, "In Search of an Ideal: An Introduction to the Unification Movement."

Rev. Kil Hwan Kim, the Northeast Block leader, emphasized that the meetingís purpose was not to measure success or compare results, but to have an honest discussion of what was or was not accomplished during the first 40 days of witnessing, compare strategies and learn from one another. Some exciting and effective developments were highlighted, and a number of good ideas for improvement were expressed. Among the highlights were:

Activities and Highlights

Region 2- In addition to a focus upon developing a strong, guest-friendly Sunday Service, one-day workshops have been held each Saturday in Manhattan (43rd Street) and the Bronx. The first 2-day workshop for new guests was held last weekend, with 14 guests attending. A second 2-day for new guests is planned for the end of the month, followed 2 weeks later by an advanced weekend, and a Blessing candidates workshop 2 weeks after that. A video center was established in Westchester County in March, and opened at a new location on April 1st, with nearly 100 guests since its inception, and a staff of 2 to 4 volunteers. They solve the problem of whether to hold member or guest-centered worship by scheduling a guest-friendly service on Sunday afternoons at the video center. English language classes twice a week attract many Hispanic guests, and most stay for the 20-minute presentation of the organizationís ideals after each class. The emphasis is on encouraging each memberís unique interest and passion, and every Tribal Messiah, however busy, is encouraged to invest a minimum of 3 hours per week in witnessing. Some have begun re-visiting their communities, giving Holy Wine and re-connecting to contacts. A 1-day leadership training for community leaders is planned for June.

Region 3- Inspired by Rev. Dong Woo Kimís detailed strategic vision, the New Jersey is investing in the rebuilding of the church community as a foundation for "multiplication." Three pillars have been identified as central to this reconstruction: Sunday Worship, Family Department (to support Blessed Families), and Parentsí Association (to support Second Generation). Strengthening these through empowering strong committees and encouraging broader participation is stage one. Through the outreach of these committees, counselors, etc., families feel the support and investment of the community. Stage two is the encouragement of local "Tribal Messiah Groups," building heartistic bonds in the community. These are encouraged for any purpose: sports, study, cooking, etc., provided that the ultimate goal is outreach to new guests. The church provides strategies, materials, and education for leaders. A 21-segment course of introduction to the DP is being developed, and manuals for community leaders, how to run a Sunday Service, etc. are in nearly complete. E-news is distributed 3 times a week, highlighting both outreach and "in-reach" activities.

Region 4- Bostonís strong contribution to witnessing development is their embrace of a detailed strategic planning process. Rev. Kil Hwan Kim took the directions and suggestions of the Ocean City Summit very seriously, and immediately established a planning team, guided by long-time member Jim Edgerly, who is a professional business consultant and strategic planner. The committee began meeting each Sunday after church, and identified 4 main areas to focus upon for development, based on the HQís guidelines: Sunday Service, Witnessing, Education Program, and Tribal Messiah Community Outreach. Beginning with the first category, they followed 4 steps: 1) Situation Analysis (using S.W.O.T.), (2) Establish Task Force, (3) Appoint a Manager, (4) Develop and implement an Action Plan. The Sunday meetings often lasted 6 hours or more, but members were eager to participate and contribute to church development, and were inspired to see Rev. Kim participate in every meeting and support the process. While planning continues for the later categories, the Sunday Service action plan is focusing on improving 4 areas: sermon, music, management and spiritual preparation. The witnessing plan includes a regular bible study, conveying the DP through a familiar medium, and movie night, utilizing films to highlight key points of the Principle.

The smaller regions are also developing their strategic plans and priorities. Region 5 established a steering committee, which prioritized 2 areas, Sunday Worship and youth education, which is logical in the Bridgeport area. A Sunday Service Committee is working on developing a guest-friendly, but clearly CTA, Unificationist service. Elder 2nd generation are being raised and trained as leaders to work with their younger fellows. The community has been organized into 12 tribes, and Tong Ban Kyok Pa areas have been assigned by lottery, with the results still to be evaluated. Region 6, though challenged with a small, widely-dispersed community, is finding the strength and independence of their families to be a resource. Regional Director Rev. Hae Chul Jung shares a passion for nature with many of the families there, and so activities using the outdoors for education and fellowship are popular. Rev. Jung has trusted and supported the membersí desire to hold a guest-friendly service each Sunday, and is developing other venues for sharing internal guidance and TPís tradition more deeply with the church community. Region 22, whose members include UTS students who stay only temporarily, is challenged with reaching a population that still looks at our movement skeptically, despite the long seminary presence and many outreach activities. Developing a strong, music and spirit-filled worship experience relevant to the target audience is the primary focus, and a weekly radio ministry has also garnered response.

Challenges and Proposals

The discussion of challenges to witnessing was summarized into several categories: membersí mindset (fear, distraction, lack of confidence, shifting from obedience to ownership, etc), membersí situation (responsibilities, kids, financial and time limitations, etc.), lack of educational and witnessing materials, lack of an up-to-date education track, and inexperienced leadership. Leadership education was determined as an urgent priority, and key skills were identified (preaching ability, small group organization, financial management, administration and delegation, etc.) Realizing that proper training requires a clear job description, the group recognized the need for a clear organizational identity and mission statement for FFWPU, job descriptions for RD, VRD, etc. HQ was urged to lead this process, and support with materials development and leadership training. Because of the large membership in this Block, regional summits were suggested, rather than a Block-level gathering. The first 1-day leadership training was organized for June 5 in Region 2, with cooperation from HQ.

All regions and Tribal Messiahs are encouraged to consider the resources available from these regions, such as a clear strategic planning process from Region 4, ideas for manuals and how-tos from Region 3, leadership training ideas from Region 2, and ideas for witnessing through movie nights, bible studies, video centers, and community-interest programs like language education. Dr. Hendricks and UTS are a valuable resource for leadership education, and Dr. Jung Chang Choi, director of the Research Institute for the Integration of World Thought at UB, is highly regarded for his seminars on preaching and sermon development, already scheduled throughout the northeast.

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