Unification News for April / May 1999

4,000 Gather in Chicago to Embrace True Mother

Due to beautifully strong tailwinds, True Mother arrived in Chicago directly from East Garden over 30 minutes early on Saturday morning, March 27, 1999. After an incredibly long, cold and snowing 1999 winter, the weather had just begin to start feeling like the Spring that had just arrived one week earlier. I remember Father's words back in 1992 very clearly, "Spring is a time to accomplish great things in a very short time-for it will pass very quickly. It is a time of growth, of re-birth and of new beginning." Our motorcade quickly moved from the airport toward downtown Chicago and the awaiting International Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago and Towers Hotel, which is incidentally, the largest ballroom in the city. But Rev. Ki Hoon Kim and Rev. Michael Jenkins had both felt that it was time to surpass our 1998 event which had brought out over 3,000 ministers, friends and guests to Mother's speech. This ballroom had the capacity to hold over 4,000 guests.

We continued on along the Stevenson Expressway toward the downtown area. It seemed as soon as Mother saw Lake Michigan she began to relax. We arrived at the hotel and went immediately to Mother's suite. After just a moment, Mother emerged from her room in an elegantly beautiful powder blue suit and sat down for lunch with the Chicago committee of leaders. She commented on the beautiful flower arrangement on the table and said, "Chicago is like my home."

From the very beginning of this campaign, one could feel that everything was going to be different than ever before. Just the fact that we have over a 2 month notice that True Mother would be coming was so different and unusual that many of didn't quite know what to do with it. yet we began, in the most usual of ways and that was by going out and visiting our ministers. For the past 2 years our Bishop, the Rev. Ki Hoon Kim has designated the 2nd Sunday of every month as Church visitation Sunday. We have a small Sunday Service at our Ashland Avenue Church, but the majority of members and Tribal Messiahs go out and visit their adopted churches at least once a month.

Over the past 6 months we have also been on an intensive witnessing and workshop campaign. CARP rented a workshop site up at Lake Geneva about 1 hour from Chicago and members were going up every weekend for a 2 day workshop, which lead to many 7 day and 21 day guests who were now becoming members. When CARP went on their Christmas fundraising campaign, the workshops transferred to the church and we began having evening programs every night and weekend. Through this experience, many new members were joining and many members were becoming lecturers and workshop staff.

As February 7, 1999 began to come closer, of course our emphasis focused on the blessing. But we continued to witness through passing out flyers for our evening programs. Through this process many new guests became blessing candidates. So when word of True Mother's tour arrived we were ready to welcome her back to Chicago.

It was hard to believe that it had been almost a year ago since True Mother had come to Chicago. In fact, April 10, 1998 was Good Friday, when 3,000 guests filled the Grand Ballroom of the downtown Chicago Marriott Hotel to hear True Mother deliver her speech, "Blessed Marriage and Eternal Life," amidst the amens and hallelujahs of the assembled churches in the congregation. But again, the spirit was telling us that this event was going to be different.

The first indication was in the area of proclamations. In Chicago we have developed an effective system to get proclamations and letters of greeting from the Governor, the Mayor, the City Council, and our State and Federal Officials. However, the November election of 1998 occurred between last April 10th and our event in March 1999. Illinois has a new Governor, a new Secretary of State, a new United States Senator, a new Speaker of the House in Washington, D.C. and even many of the offices that we were familiar with have now been staffed with new personnel who didn't know us from Adam. So in many ways, it was like starting over from scratch.

As we began to work though our network of established churches some new phenomenon began to occur. We have done so much with our churches, that planning a new event was beginning with a tremendous response, especially from our best ministers. Over the past 4 years, through the series of blessings, and everything else, we have been in constant relationship with our churches. And our network is growing. Our best ministers are becoming more and more important; many of their churches are growing; many of them are being promoted to superintendents and bishops; and many of them are introducing us to new pastors and friends. Also one important aspect of the African-American Church Community is the importance of Church anniversaries and Pastor's Birthdays. Our support of the events, often buying a table or group of tables develops an ongoing relationship with the churches. And the ministers most always will return the favor, by attending your banquet or church anniversary. This proved quite true this past Christmas when we held our 3rd annual True Family Values Christmas Banquet on December 26th. Although many thought our Bishop Ki Hoon Kim to be overly ambitious in holding the banquet on the day after Christmas, reality proved the unbelievers wrong- as over 500 guests joined Rev. Joong Hyun Pak and major church leaders from all over Chicago at the celebration.

The next new phenomenon was that certain ministers have now elevated to new levels of commitment in their work with us. We have come to realize that given their incredible schedules and the fact that so many of the ministers are so serious, so dedicated and being led by the holy spirit, these men and women of God can go only so far with us on a horizontal level. In other words, they would only be willing/able to walk so far with their friends. Only the fact that they themselves are experiencing the presence of God and the Holy Spirit is the basis for their continuing walk of faith and commitment with our True Parents.

I remember our old friend, Dr. Richard Quebedeaux, who had a deep experience with God at one of our New Era Pastoral academic Conferences. After that point, Dr. Quebedeaux would refuse to discuss our conferences with his friends. He would just invite them to attend, knowing full well that their concepts about our movement would be destroyed through their experience with God at our conferences. And the same holds true for our best ministers. men like Rev. T.L. Barrett, who offered the prayer representing all of Protestant Christianity at the RFK Blessing, attending our Inter-religious Conference for World Peace in December in Washington, D.C., bought 2 tables and was the M.C. for our True Family Values Banquet 2 weeks later and then turned around and flew to Korea for Blessing '99 where he once again was asked to offer the Prayer representing all of Protestant Christianity. Now, Rev. Barrett did not need go to Washington, D.C. or even to Korea just for the trip. This man works about 120,000 hours a week leading a vibrant and spirit-filled church to new heights every day. The street that goes past his Life Center Church is named in his honor. His church was the first one in America to fly the Family Federation Flag on its flagpole and I could go on and on. So it is God alone that is calling Rev. Barrett to work alongside his Unification Church/Family Federation brethren in the fight to save America.

The same can be said of Rev. Dr. Leroy Elliott, the Pastor of New Greater St. John Baptist Church on Chicago's great West Side. Rev. Elliott, whose older brother Charles hosted True Mother at his King Solomon Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky is one of the, if not the, top evangelist in America. Rev. Elliott is on the road doing revivals 46 weeks a year. I witnessed one in Macon, Georgia, where the Beulahland Baptist Church was filled to its 2500 seat capacity every day for the week that he was preaching-and oh how this man of God can preach! Rev. Elliott tells the story of how as a child down in Kentucky, they used to catch squirrels by leaving some squirrel food in a box. Once the squirrel crawled into the box, the door would slam closed and the squirrel was caught. Last January, Rev. Elliott gave testimony to Rev. Kwak at a breakfast in Chicago, that the door to True Parents box had slammed closed behind him and that he is now caught. In other words, he has experienced God while working alongside of his Unification Church Brethren and that "what therefore God has joined together let no man put asunder (Mt: 19:6). Rev. Elliott has a vision to save all of America and it seems that God has set him up to have access to most every major Baptist pastor in the United States. Basically, he wants to take True Family Values to every corner of America.

A third phenomenon that is occurring is the inter-relationship between the ministers. Years ago, after the ICC trips to Korea, Father asked the ministers to begin to fellowship together-even having a joint service once a month. During this campaign, more than ever before, the ministers seriously began doing this. Many of them, who were from different denominations began to come together to bring others to the event. Many of them began to preach in each other's churches and invite and encourage other congregations to attend True Mother's speech. Even unto the last minute, many of our best ministers were preaching at other churches and inviting them to True Mother's speech.

So the 4,000 guests that filled the International ballroom of the Chicago Hilton & Towers Hotel were the guests of over 185 pastors who attended the event. The invitational committee of more than 100 ministers took up more space than the program. But that is just the point-this was not a Unification Church event-it was a product of the joint cooperation of the ministers, political leaders, business leaders, civic leaders and ethnic leaders of the Chicagoland area in an effort to support True Parents North American speaking tour in Chicago. Filipinos, Hispanics, African-Americans, Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Native Americans and Jews joined together to welcome True Mother back to Chicago.

The program began promptly at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. For one hour, choirs from Rev. Wendell Lowe's Acme MB Church, COGIC Bishop Bennie Allison's Corinthian Temple Choir, Rev. Jesusa Barrett's Iglesia de Cristo Misionera Choir, Rev. Levan Brayboy's Mt. Zion Inspirational Choir, Rev. edwin Simmons New Friendship MB Choir, COGIC Bishop Ocie Booker's Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Choir and Rev. Marvin Alexander's Union Missionary Baptist Choir performed. from the moment anyone set foot in the auditorium, even just after 3 o'clock when the room was just beginning to fill up, one was immediately caught up in a mighty powerful spirit, and all fears and doubts about the success of the program were dismayed.

By 4 o'clock nearly every seat was filled and Rev. Jenkins began the program promptly. Bishop Cody Marshall, Pastor of the Freedom Temple COGIC and Chairman of the Religious Coalition of Illinois opened the program with a rousing prayer of hallelujah. The religious Coalition of Illinois is made of up every major religious leader in the state including Chicago's Francis Cardinal George and Chicago's Bishop Ki Hoon Kim. Each of them had been asked to offer a prayer of unity at Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's Martin Luther King, Jr. annual prayer breakfast this past January. the prayer breakfast, attended by 2,000 ministers had been held in this same ballroom and had inspired rev. Kim to have Mother's speech here as well.

After Bishop Marshall, Rev. Jenkins read off proclamations and letters of greeting from the Governor, Secretary of State and Treasurer of Illinois. A very personal letter was read from the Mayor and Proclamations were introduced from the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago proclaiming Saturday, March 27, 1999 as Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Day in Chicago and in Illinois. As Rev. Jenkins read the proclamations, members of Chicago's second generation paraded across the stage holding the framed proclamations up high.

The program went very smoothly with Mother's videotape receiving deep appreciation. And when Pastor T.L. Barrett, jr. was shown giving the prayer representing all of Protestant Christianity at Blessing '99 in Seoul, each of his 250 members and guests in attendance gave resounding applause. After a beautiful introduction by one of Illinois' most popular political leaders, True Mother took the stage to a standing ovation that did not want to sit down. Her speech was received with constant amens, hallelujahs and applause in the spirit-filled hall. We were truly having Church!

After she finished, Mother received flowers from Mr. Eric Seim and his beautiful new Japanese bride and then Mother walked down to the first row of seats and shook hands with the 30 dignitaries who were blessed to have been seated in the first row. Two of the ministers were so inspired that they just followed Mother out the back door and through the corridors up to the celebration room. They were just like true children following thri Mother wherever she was going!

The program concluded with two more choral selections from Minister Yakeerah and rev. T.L. Barrett Jr.'s Life Center Church Choir and Rev. Constance Bansa's Church of the Living God Choir.

By the time many of the members and guests entered, the celebration room was filled to overflowing as many of the pastors, including Rev. Elliott, Rev. Barrett, Rev. Constance Bansa and her sister Shirley Sims, Rev. A.I. Dunlap and Rev. Helen Cooper saluted True Parents in praise and song for nearly 2 hours. Leaders from the Nation of Islam presented True Mother with beautiful gifts and greetings of ah salam alakem. Rev. M.E. Sardon celebrated his 87th birthday, and the growing Chicago community of second generation blessed children serenaded True Mother with their Children's Choir. Mother and Father returned the favor each singing three songs and Mother moved each of our hearts with "Home Sweet Home."

After pledge service on Sunday, Peter Kim read several of Father's historical prayers both in Korean and in English and True Mother shared very deeply about the true meaning of the elder son's position. During a joyful breakfast , True Mother honored Rev. Reiner and Mrs. Barbara Vincenz and their beautiful daughter Leena in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of their blessing. The Vincenz's then sang Omiya for True Mother. Also Mrs. Kathleen Somitani sang a beautiful song that she wrote for Mother 26 years ago upon her first meeting with True Mother. True Mother was so moved by the song's beauty that she instructed Rev. Kim to send it to Rev. Kwak in New York to be selected as one of the New Holy Songs of Unification Culture for the New Millenium. Also our newly blessed Chinese Carp leader who had helped bring 200 students to the event sang a beautiful song for True Mother.

Our true goal in this campaign was not just to fill an auditorium, but to bring true joy to True Mother. We sincerely hope that we were able to do this. On the way to the airport, Mother asked the motorcade to turn around and take her to the shore of Lake Michigan before heading for the airport. When she got there, Mother got out of the car and walked down to the shore to look at the Chicago skyline & pray. Quickly joined by all 30 people in the motorcade, Mother posed for pictures with the skyline in the back ground and re-iterated her instructions that we should be diligent to take care of the 4,000 guests who had attended her speech. Even after entering her plane, she came back to the open door two different times to wave good-bye to the members and as her jet soared off to Atlanta, several members could see the horde of angels surrounding her airplane.

Post Script:

A few days later, Rev. Kim received a call from Father in South America. This was the first call that Rev. Kim had ever gotten like this, directly from Father is South America. He just wanted to know more and more about the Chicago event. Here again, rev. Kim emphasized that it was the unity and cooperation of the Chicago community, the Family federation, the Tribal messiahs, the Business leaders and members and the Japanese Kodans that had made all this possible.

Comments from ministers who attended the event:

"The program was great, but when I saw how many young people were moved by Dr. Moon's sincerity, warmth and love, I truly realized the power of her message."—Minister Earl Christy Former Member of the 1969 New York Jets Superbowl Champions

"Dr. Moon's message was so profound. She expresses so beautifully the awesome truth that it is necessary for all denominations and all races to come together in order to save humanity as we move into the new millenium. Here in Chicago, we are actually doing this, fulfilling the dreams and the ideals brought forth through the True Family Ministry.. This program was brought together through the cooperation of over 85 churches under the umbrella of the Holy Spirit. Finally, I was honored to be able to share our love with Rev. Moon in South America."—Rev. Constance Banza Church of the Living God

"It was mind gripping, it was mind boggling, it caught the attention of many unbelievers. God is working through humanity at large including, Koreans, Filipinos, Hispanics, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Jews. The program had a devastating effect on every person in the audience-an experience that will never be forgotten. Everyone was touched, even little children, even the teenagers, even the college students and of course, the adults. Old friends were brought to new heights and even first timers had incredible experience with God and the Holy Spirit through the words of Dr. Moon."—Rev. Leroy Elliott New Greater St. John Baptist Church

"The program was simply beautiful. We enjoyed every minute of it."—Rev. Dr. Thomas and Diane Lee Special Assistant to the Mayor

"I found Dr. Moon to be more correlative with other denominations in her presentation. Rev. Moon was actually converted into the Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church always talks about love. Dt. Moon sounded like a modern Presbyterian."—Dr. Paul Swanson Lutheran Professor of Theology, Emeritus

"What I experienced was a coming together of all church denominations where we had the opportunity to mingle and mix. The Unification Church is truly carrying out the meaning of its original name, to unify all churches under the banner of coming together to worship God together through the Holy Spirit. I experienced the reality of the words that Jesus spoke in John 12:32, "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me." In my opinion, nothing is greater than unity-this is the only way that we can eliminate the wars, the breakdown of the family and the child abuse that are destroying our Christian society."—Rev. M. E. Sardon, Holiness Community Temple (Rev. Sardon, who has worked with UC projects for over 15 years was celebrating his 87th birthday during Dr. Moon's speech)

"Rev. and Mrs. Moon are standing up for the family in America. I truly believe that Rev. & Mrs. Moon are carrying out the vision that Dr. King professed during his lifetime-that people should be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. Only through the ministry of the Unification Church do I see people of all races and nationalities, Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, Jewish, Hispanic, Indian, being drawn together under one banner-the banner of God and the Holy Spirit."—Rev. A. I. Dunlap Shepherd, Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church

"When I sat at the lunch table with Mother Moon, I felt that totally I was her true son."—Pastor T.L. Barrett, Jr. Life Center Church of God in Christ

One anecdote: One of our powerhouse witnessing/blessing sisters met one of the most powerful politicians in the City of Chicago on her way out of the hotel after the program. He had actually written a beautiful greeting which we read at the event, but he did not attend personally. The sister boldly approached him, thanked him for this letter of greeting, but also informed him that he had missed one of the most valuable events of the year and was obviously on his way to attend the wrong event. But she lovingly forgave him for his mistake and gave him Mother's speech to read.

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