Unification News for November 1996
Preparing a Royal Welcome
by Randy Francis-Baltimore, MD
Our True Parents are always pushing the envelope of time and space when it comes to fulfilling the next steps of the providence. Here in Baltimore we were tremendously excited to be chosen as one of the 16 U.S. cities on True Mother's world tour. But our date of Monday, Oct. 28 turned out to be a bit of a challenge.
As we held our first planning meeting and created a timeline, it seemed like an overabundance of time compared to past projects. But this definitely turned out to be a false sense of security. When we began searching for a qualified venue, the Baltimore Orioles were making a run through the American League playoffs. If all went their way the final game of the World Series would be in Baltimore the day before our event. I never thought I would be rooting against the O's. But it was for God's will!
Even with the O's loss, each of the hotels seemed to be totally full. Our prayers were to create a royal welcome for True Parents in Maryland, both internally and externally, and we got to know each of the better hotels very well both by phone and in person. Finally after two weeks of trying, and finding the only ones available not to be suitable, our original hope-the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel, paged me and said they could open up half the Maryland Ballroom, the largest ballroom in the state, but the timing for setup would be real tight at two hours!
With total assurance from Dennis Tirotta and Frank Maketa and their professional staff at Atlantic Video we were on our way trying not to sound too grateful to the sales manager as to compromise prices. After all, we were using their open space up for them, right?
With a real space and time, we could now focus on the attendees. Our goal was to touch each of the sectors of society outlined by True Father in the speech "True Parents and the Completed Testament Age" in 1993. We prayed to connect to the movers and shakers in the realms of religion, politics, academia, media, economy, sports and culture.
By this time our region had hosted the first of the 16 events in Washington, D.C. Then with the support of our regional director Rev. Yang and of Jin Hun Nim, leading World CARP, two teams from the University of Maryland came to work in Baltimore. This proved to be inspirational for all involved. Our community of eight families were doing their best working during the day and then calling and visiting after work. With these fifteen additional members we could really cover a many areas which had been neglected for too long.
These brothers and sisters have a lot of experience on campuses and they welcomed the chance to expand into the realm of church visitation. Going into the religious sphere with the message of the need for humanity to find "True Parents and True Family" combined with the internationality of this group created a powerful foundation of give and take. Ministers are still asking when they will come back to the area.
Along with the church visits, we invited professors and students from seven campuses. One high-tech breakthrough came when the head of student activities at Johns Hopkins University helped put the invitation on the campus-wide network which reaches the e-mail boxes of about 8,000 graduate students and professors.
Since we are about 50 miles from Washington, DC, many of our contacts are invited to the big events there. Most especially the Women's Federation for World Peace Sisterhood Ceremony attendees seemed to be really excited to finally have a more local opportunity to meet Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, the president of WFWP. We were receiving confirmation calls from them right up to the last hour.
In the political arena our hope was to receive recognition from the top down-governor, congresspersons, county and city officials. The main point we learned from this is first ask or request (keep it simple), then follow up and follow up again.
The governors of Maryland, both past and present, have given proclamations for many providential events, and Gov. Glendening was the first to respond this time also. Then, even in the midst of a heated campaign season, three U.S. congresspersons sent warm letters of welcome, as well as county officials and city mayors from the state capital Annapolis and points north, south, east and west.
To round off and fulfill our hopes of encompassing all the spheres of society which True Father had mentioned, we also had in attendance at the event community leaders from our children's schools as well as YMCA leaders and business organization leaders.
As the day approached it became clear that we needed a special effort to create a truly royal welcome to the city of Baltimore for our True Parents. Someone from the city government would be good.
We have had success in relations with city hall through WFWP and our local group, the Coalition for Racial and Religious Harmony. Based on these and a special push from a KEA member, Mr. John Chon, who has been working with Dr. Jai Ryu, special assistant for Asian American affairs. The mayor of Baltimore, the Hon. Kurt L. Schmoke, agreed wholeheartedly to give the welcoming remarks.
All of you who have worked on these types of events know the intensity of the week of preparation, multiply by 100 on the final day. This was multiplied again by the scheduling of the mayor's address and trying to get him to fit into our timetable. As it worked out, he missed his chance to introduce Mother but came in at the beginning of her speech and so was able to sit and listen to its entirety. God was truly in control of his schedule.
Mayor Schmoke gave a beautiful welcome praising True Mother for her efforts to establish True Families around the world through the 185- nation tour.
Our deep thanks go out to all of you who were involved in making this a statewide Royal Welcome for True Parents.
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