Unification News for February 2005
Chicago Bounces Back
by Rev. Bruce Sutchar
It takes more than a snowstorm to stop Chicago. Yes its true that on the weekend of January 29, 2005 more than foot of snow caused Chicagoıs historic very first and only prayer breakfast cancellation in history. But even that was not done until the last minute. Until almost midnight Bishop Kim and the key Chicago leaders negotiated all the possibilities. But because of the storm Rev. Jenkins could not even get out of Washington, D.C. Then the banquet hall told us that they could not guarantee that the cooks and servers would be able to get into the kitchen the next morning. So finally, reluctantly, a deal was cut and both sides agreed to postpone the breakfast for one week.
And so either at midnight or again at 6am the more than 340 guests from 5 states were called and told of the change in plans. And yet, even with over a foot of snow all over the highways, nearly 25 guests still showed up for the cancelled breakfast. And they had a joyful time with our Chicago leaders and enjoyed a wonderful informal breakfast.
Now fast-forward one week. Much of the snow has melted, although Saturdayıs forecast was still calling for a little more of the white stuff. Over 340 guests were re-confirmed and Rev. Jenkins would come in the day before.
And as soon as word of Rev. Jenkins early arrival came in, many brothers and sisters in Chicago wanted to get together with their elder brother. Bishop Kim quickly arranged for a wonderful Chinese dinner and Rev. Jenkins was welcomed with open arms back to his hometown.
Afterward we all moved over to the home of David and Agnes Rendel. Here nearly 100 Chicago members crowded into the Rendelıs comfortable Elk Grove Village home, where for the next 2 hours Rev. Jenkins shared many intimate details of life with our True Parents. He shared about breakfast meetings, Fatherıs exact guidance, meeting with Hyung Jin Nim, life in Israel and his experience with the recent Palestinian election. He shared many historical times of being with True Parents. But most of all what he shared was internal guidance from True Fatherıs words:
not just the historical providential guidance, but also much of Fatherıs day- to- day guidance for living in the bosom of Godıs love. Finally, we dismissed in order to prepare the final details for the next morningıs prayer breakfast. But many members lingered on, still savoring the enjoyable taste from the evening fellowship.
The predicated snow never materialized and Chicago awoke to a beautiful sunny (almost spring-like) morning. By the time my wife and I had picked up 85-year-old Rev. Isaac Strong (who has been our true brother for over 20 years) and arrived at the banquet hall, nearly every seat was filled.
One important point that I must make is that this was a dual occasion. Yes, it was, Chicago ACLCıs first prayer breakfast of 2005. And yes, Rev. Michael Jenkins had come home to deliver the morning message to the assembled crowds, but this was also the birthday celebration for Chicagoıs Bishop Ki Hoon Kim. And this fact added a special touch to the entire occasion.
Chicagoıs ACLC convener, Dr. A. Harold White, served as our master of ceremonies. Bishop Kim gave welcoming greetings and the Chicago Family Church band and our Japanese True Family Values Choir entertained the congregation.
Rev Ricardo Maldonado, a Hispanic Catholic priest, Dr. Paul Swanson, a Lutheran professor of theology, and Minister Thomas Muhammad from the Nation of Islam offered prayers of unity. And the spirit in the room reflected the unity of these prayers. One is called to wonder where else in Chicago were Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans all coming together (on a regular basis) to pray for peace and then to work together to create it.
After an introductory video featuring many of our guests (including Pastor T.L. Barrett, Jr., and Rev. Leroy Elliott), Rev. Jenkins came to the podium to deliver the morning message. Those of us who have known Rev. Jenkins for many years can see how God is molding and growing him. Through a PowerPoint presentation he talked about the reality of America and the world. He shared so much of True Fatherıs heart and ideals. And much like True Father, he challenged the ministers in the audience to live Jesus' words from the Bible, Muhammadıs words from the Koran and Moses' words from the Torah. He talked about the issue of church and state, but not from the political point of view. He challenged Americaıs clergy to take responsibility to lead America through the moral malaise that she is being confronted with. He challenged every person in the room to realize that only God can lead us through this moral wilderness in the same way that he led the Israelites across Sinai.
Those of you who have read Charles Dickensıs classic 19th century novel, ³The Tale of Two Cities,² remember its awesome initial paragraph. ³It was Best of Times, it was the worst of times.² But as you read through the entire paragraph it concludes that ³we were all going to heaven, we were all going the other way² but all in all, the period was so far like the present period.²
Upon his conclusion, our dear brother and national ACLC convener, Pastor T.L. Barrett, Jr. took the podium and paid great respect to Bishop Ki Hoon Kim. Then our AFC brother David Rendel, who with Jon and Marina Acevedo were instrumental in bringing over 50 Hispanic guests to the breakfast, led a wonderful Ambassadors for Peace celebration awarding leaders of the Hispanic community with the mandate to become Ambassadors for Peace.
We concluded by singing Happy Birthday to our Bishop and showering him with gifts. Many ministers joined Bishop Kim on stage in order to cut the cake, and the congregation was then dismissed.
The main body of the congregation lingered, wanting the fellowship to continue. It was a wonderful audience, representing all races, denominations, cultures and generations-- from our young CARP/STF second generation to elders such As Rev. M. E. Sardon (93), Rev. A.I. Dunlap and others who have been marching on the front line with us for over 20 years. And Rev. Princella Hudson Gilliam and Rev. Helen Cooper, who had journeyed through last weekıs snowstorm, returned again with their 17 guests to experience the whole nine yards. Many were in attendance, who had been with us in Washington, D.C., last month, and one can see that our True Parents' vision for the Ambassadors for Peace is truly taking root.
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