Unification News for November 2004
Speaking Tour Chicago, IL
by Rev. Bruce Sutchar
The apostle James is famous for noting the critical relationship of the give and take between faith and deeds (James 2:17, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead"). And I believe that it is upon this rock that our 9th annual True Family Values Award Banquet proceeded forward. I have already mentioned in my article concerning the history of the banquet that our Bishop Ki Hoon Kim went forward in faith over 9 years ago when our banquet first began-and that he had the determination and the faith to invite our True Parents to serve as the keynote speakers on several occasions. However, after speaking 3 years in a row, Bishop Kim felt that Father and Mother would not attend our event in 2003. Bishop Kim, a true and filial son, was also concerned about our True Parents' health and even hesitated to ask them to fly all the way to Chicago to speak at the banquet.
But this is 2004 and Bishop Kim returned with a new vigor to proclaim that he truly felt that True Parents would attend this year's banquet. In fact, he was so determined that he fully prepared to invite True Parents as he traveled to East Garden to welcome them back to America in mid-October. Bishop Kim prepared an elaborate approach book, highlighting the history of the banquet, and we also published an historical report of the 9 banquets on our FFWP web page. We were able to secure the downtown Hyatt Hotel, held our initial organizing meetings, and were going forward at full throttle for the December 11th event.
However, I guess that Bishop Kim overdid it a bit, for Father got so inspired that he couldn't wait until December to come to Chicago. In fact, he told Bishop Kim that he wanted to come to Chicago 8 days later.
But what can we do? I mean, even when we call a hotel and ask them if they have an opening in December (2 full months away), the first question they usually ask us is, for what year? Nobody, I mean nobody, plans for a 1500 seat banquet as little as 2 months away. So now, we had to begin booking a hotel, not 8 months or 8 weeks ahead, but in 8 days.
But as the song says, "God prepares the place, before we even arrive," (He loves that land before I come) and this too would prove true. For when our beloved and faithful brother David Rendel began to call the hotels, he found that the Marriott Hotel on no less than the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago was actually open on our chosen night.
I guess that angels thing must be real, for what happened is that the group that had booked the grand ballroom at the Marriott had "suddenly" decided to change their event from a dinner to a luncheon, and just as important, the newly renovated Presidential Suite was available for True Parents. I mean amazing! Or as the Rev. Jesse Edwards would say, "Let's give the Lord some praise!"
The one thing that I want to say about the next 8 days after Bishop Kim arrived back in Chicago was that Chicago was not about to cut any corners. Even though we now had 8 days and not 8 weeks to prepare for the banquet, we were still going forward full force, 100%, to prepare every detail perfectly.
So we called the proper government offices to obtain proclamations from the city, the county, the governor and the Congress. We prepared to have the very best musical offerings, and most important, we planned to fill the grand ballroom to overflow capacity.
Like a lightning flash, Friday, October 29th suddenly arrived.
A spring-like windy heat wave descended upon Chicago, and temperatures jumped into the 70s (I mean this is Chicago, Illinois in late October). Father's entourage arrived just before noon, fresh from their program the night before in Washington, DC.
True Parents immediately gathered with Chicago's leadership. Dr. Yang reported on the Washington event, and then Bishop Kim reported to True Parents. Mother looked radiant and Father looked great as well. Father spoke only a few minutes at the meeting. His main point was that we must have a new determination. He said simply that the humble person, the one who is truly willing to live for the sake of the other, and the one who gets up at dawn every morning and prays for the world will be the person who will truly be elevated in their lifetime.
After lunch, Rev. Jenkins joined the 12 ACLC executive board members who are accompanying True Parents on this tour. They had just arrived in the hotel and were obviously still inspired from the previous evening's event. In particular, former Georgia State Senator Donzella James was still about 8 to 10 feet off the ground, having just received a beautiful "Crown of Peace" award the night before.
The ministers seemed very serious. They conveyed many thoughts and emotions about how they realize True Parents' seriousness to save this nation and save this world. And this seriousness would come out during the banquet-especially in the remarks of Rev. Jesse Edwards and Archbishop George Augustus Stallings. Both of these men of the cloth implored the audience to realize the significance of the lives of our True Parents. Archbishop Stallings confessed how True Parents had changed his life, his love and his lineage forever, and he went on further to challenge the audience and ask them, "What are you looking for? What are you waiting for? and What do you expect from a messiah?"
Rev. Daugherty prepared the atmosphere for the evening program, as only he can, combining music, heart, theology and inspiration. Mrs. Tokiko Richardson came all the way down from Detroit to treat us to her amazing vocal abilities, and Bishop Kim gave the official Chicago greeting. Then our own Rev. Michael Jenkins took charge, as only he can, and prepared the audience for what was about to come. Lutheran professor of theology Dr. Paul Swanson delivered a deep and moving invocation. Dr. Chang Shik Yang offered a brief history of True Parents' work in America. ACLC national co-convenor Pastor T.L. Barrett, Jr., had asked if he could offer a musical tribute to our True Parents, and Pastor Barrett truly outdid himself. Through song, he was able to unite the entire audience and truly elevate the spirit in the room to a new height.
What followed was the nomination of our True Parents for a "crown of peace" award and then a brilliant video, narrated by the Rev. Phillip Schanker, detailing the life of our True Parents in America.
Now it was time for our True Parents. They came out together, and Mother took her seat at the center table in front of the podium, directly in front of True Father. I cannot tell you how long it took Father to deliver his speech. The official text was 15 pages long, but as always happens in Chicago, Father did not follow that text. As during the 50-city tour, it felt less like a formal speech and more like Father had taken Belvedere on the road. In other words, the speech consisted as much of Father commenting and expounding on the text as it did the text itself. Just as soon as you found the exact spot in the speech booklet where Rev. Peter Kim was translating, Father would go off again to expound more deeply on another point.
He implored the audience to disregard all forms of selfish individualism, stating very clearly that the only way to get rid of Satan once and for all is to live for the sake of others. And he instructed everyone to truly follow the guidance of their conscience in order to develop a true relationship with God.
Upon the rousing conclusion of Father's sermon, the ACLC clergy, both national and local, joined our True Parents on the stage. Then 5 of Chicago's preeminent citizens were called to the stage to receive their "Crown of Peace" awards from True Parents. Rev. Willie Weston (who recently returned from a pilgrimage to Israel), Rev. Jesse Griffin from Minnesota, Rev. Bennit Hayes from Houston, Mr. Robert C. Kim from Chicago's Korean community, and Mrs. Jeanette Kravitz (the founder and CEO of Sponsor Kids Charities) were each honored.
At that point True Parents left the stage and Rev. Daugherty returned to guide the congregation through the rest of the evening. Dr. A. Harold White, Chicago's ACLC co-convenor, blessed our meal and for the remainder of the evening, the audience was delighted and entertained by one musical delicacy after another. Some of the performers included Mrs. Glenda Searcy, Mrs. Kil Ja Kim (accompanied by Mrs. Stephanie Nishida), Chicago Family Church's own Kazumi Murray, and international gospel singer Cynthia Butts (accompanied on the piano by Pastor Barrett).
After the conclusion of the program (around 11:00 pm) most of the audience remained, fellowshipping throughout the ballroom and the adjoining hallway. Many old friendships were re-kindled and a spirit as warm and spring-like as the weather outside permeated the entire area.
As for our True Parents, Father was already preparing for the next morning's Hoon Dok Hae and his immediate departure for Los Angeles, the concluding stop on his 4-city tour for the salvation of America.
And for Chicago-we will begin preparing with Bishop Kim for our 10th annual True Family Values Awards Banquet, in December of 2005 probably -- or maybe sooner. After all, Bishop Kim promised our True Parents that next year's banquet would be even better, and even bigger.
You are all invited. See you next year!
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