Unification News for October 2004

Chicago ACLC Pastors' Prayer Breakfast

September 28, 2004 - Chicago, IL

We had just returned from our 20 week pilgrimage to Israel and we had to hit the ground running. The morning after our return, I had to speak at a prayer breakfast. This was the first time that tickets were actually printed with my name on them as the keynote speaker. It was Saturday, September 25, and it was the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. God guided me to speak on this morning following the exact scripture that would be read from the Hebrew Torah on this holy day: the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah. We had, in fact, just witnessed the actual rock atop Mt. Moriah, as we were allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock, the most holy Muslim shrine in Israel, within which is located that very rock where Abraham raised his sword to slay his beloved son.

Now just 3 days later, we again gathered at the Holy Temple where Pastor Willie Weston, one of our Israeli participants, was the host pastor. The occasion was our September monthly prayer breakfast. This breakfast has been going on regularly for over 5 years and is usually attended by between 100-300 pastors. Not known for either brevity or punctuality, but still functioning on Israeli Standard Time, which included an extra hour of Daylight Savings Time sleep that I had just tucked away the previous weekend, I was actually able to arrive right on time. But to my dismay, at 9:15 am there were only about 15 guests in attendance. Thus, I took a deep breath and just wrote it off to the fact that Bishop Kim had been away for the past 2 weeks and had not had a chance to really prepare the audience.

But with two of our key ACLC ministers in place, Chicago ACLC President, Dr. A. Harold White and Rev. Joseph McAfee-each of them a veteran of both Israel and the recent convocation in Korea--we began the program. Our monthly forum affords an excellent opportunity for many of our long-time ACLC ministers to join us in worship. On this particular occasion, Dr. Paul Swanson (70), Rev. James Bass (80), and Rev. M. Earle Sardon (92) were all in attendance. Also in attendance were the 20 CARP and STF members who are present in Chicago for their second year of STF.

The essence of the Prayer Breakfast focused on our just-completed pilgrimage to Israel. Thus four of the pastors who participated in the pilgrimage each gave their testimonies. These included Bishop Lewis, a brand-new contact who joined us for the very first time; Pastor Willie Weston, who was returning again after joining us for the rally in Jerusalem last December; Rev. Franklin Morris, who had sent a basketball team to participate in the World Culture and Sports Festival in Korea; and our dear old friend and renowned civil rights activist, Rev. A.I. Dunlap.

Rev. Dunlap connected with our movement over 25 years ago. At that time, he endured a great deal of persecution for giving True Father an award for his outstanding achievement in the field of civil rights. Later, Rev. Dunlap would go to jail for the 40th time in his life for defending the good name of our True Parents. On this pilgrimage Rev. Dunlap, as each of the pastors from Chicago, was a diligent attendee. Although we arrived in Israel during the middle of the night and it was 4:45am by the time we unpacked, Rev. Dunlap still attended 5:00 am hoon dok hae and joined the 8:00 am departure to Bethlehem. Later during the pilgrimage, he would lead the worship aboard our boat on the Sea of Galilee.

So each of the four pastors shared about their experiences in Israel. I also want to note that we had 39 guests attend the pilgrimage from the Chicago region. These included guests and ministers from Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. There were two Zoroastrian guests, the sister of an earlier pilgrimage participant and recent Korean convocation veteran and her daughter, a Ph.D. student at Southern Illinois University. A Mexican Ambassador for Peace, his wife and niece all proved to be diligent participants. Our Mexican brother, Rosendo Burciaga is a good friend of current Mexican President Fox. I believe that he is one person who, because of his own personal experiences with torture and persecution, can really appreciate True Father's course.

Our prayer breakfast was blessed with a beautiful Christian hymn from Mrs. Kazumi Murray and was concluded with the benediction from our beloved 92 year old pastor, Rev. Sardon. Last year, when True Father began speaking at our True Family Values Banquet (the 2004 edition of which will be held in conjunction with an Ambassadors for Peace Seminar in early December of this year), he began by asking if anyone in the room was older than he. When Rev. Sardon, who was sitting directly in front of True Father, proudly raised his hand, acknowledging his 92 years on the face of this earth, True Father spent the next ten minutes talking directly to him. Most amazing to those of us who knew the "rest of the story," Rev. Sardon had almost missed the banquet because of a very important personal situation, but I humbly believe that banquet proved to be the highlight of his 92 years on earth. He was able to go forward in faith, and and as a result, he received True Father's special blessing.

And so our breakfast concluded promptly at 11:00 am, as it usually does under Dr. White's able leadership. As one guest put it, only Dr. Harold White could feature 4 ministers as keynote speakers and still finish on time. (Dr White is a radio personality who knows all too well the critical importance of being on time!)

One final point-after beginning with just 15 guests at 9:00 am, our breakfast concluded with well over 200 guests and nary an empty seat in the banquet hall.

Post script-I want to include here the comments of one of our brothers on the minister team regarding his inspiration from the prayer breakfast and our ongoing ministerial work:

"I feel now that nothing can stop the ACLC movement here in Chicago; even now I think that we should prepare for an even larger group each month. Some of our best contacts have churches that can only hold a maximum of around 100-150 people. As I saw yesterday it is a little tight fit for everybody that wants to be involved with us. My ideas for that was this are as follows: we could either focus on three very large churches or hotels in the Chicago area and make some deal to take turns to host our prayer breakfast every month. This, I think, will give us strong credibility with some of these megachurch pastors if they see us gathering 300 religious leaders every month. Another idea would be to have not just have one prayer breakfast a month but have two or three in different areas of the city on different days; for example, westside, northside, southside, southeastside, etc. Then it could be more specific and people can gather 100-150 on those different days. This will give us a chance to raise up the next generation of leadership as well. Also every month we are only tapping into the pastors we know who are available on Tuesday, and we could be denying people who have only a different day of the week available. I believe we should also think about opening a local ACLC office and let the pastors take full ownership of it.

"Vertically speaking, we should get desperate to raise up 12 key disciples who more deeply understand who True Parents are and are willing to accept Divine Principle as the latest teaching God has to offer. I think the True Family Values banquet is a great educator, but I believe that we should try and look for these 12 disciples even before the banquet. We should also introduce CD-ROMs/DVDs or videos of Divine Principle from our national lecturers to the participants of the prayer breakfast, ask them to go home and study, and come back next month and report. We have to increase our technology.

"We should have our own Chicago ACLC website. Also, I want to say that webcasting will be the wave of the future. It is a good thing to show pictures from the trip to Israel, but to watch live clips would be even better. All that can be done now, if the website is developed with one click they can watch the trip to Israel from the comfort of their own home. All we would have to do is tell them to go to the site and what to click. Also, headquarters should be able to watch our prayer breakfast live or at a later time. Although we tend to think that this stuff requires too much time and money, I believe God prepared one of these churches who might know people and one of our key ACLC pastors who would be willing to take full ownership and lead in setting up that area. I think that following this vision will help us keep going with our daily activities, and it helps us get a few things out of the depths of our heart."

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