Unification News for July 1996
A Report On A Visit To One Of The Ministers' Conferences In Washington, DC
by Eric Holt
In early July, I had the unique experience of attending a life- changing seminar entitled "Empowering Christianity Through True Family Values" at the Sheraton National Hotel, in suburban Washington, DC. This conference and others like it have been sponsored by the International Religious Foundation and the Washington Times Foundation. Father has been inspired by God at this time to hold these seminars to bring God's word for today to ministers, and to prepare our Christian brothers and sisters to receive God's Blessing. In terms of the ebb and flow of history, the 1990's have much in common with the time immediately following World War II. In particular, the Christian world, the Bride of Christ, is well prepared to receive God's twentieth century revelation, and the True Parents.
These conferences focus on the family, and what clergy can do to improve the predicament of American families and culture. In the 1990s, illegitimacy, divorce, and infidelity are commonplace. The track record of those who attend church is not that much better than those who do not. In other words, Christian ministers are confronting tremendous difficulties in family matters in their churches. They are looking for answers. This was clear from the fact that around two hundred seventy clergy gathered for the Washington conference in early July.
Participants came from all over the country. Six of us from Westchester County, New York made the five-hour drive arriving in time for the opening banquet. We were indeed a mixed lot. In addition to a couple of Unificationists, our party included a Catholic priest, a Baptist minister, a Holiness minister, a Church of God minister and a Buddhist monk.
Our emcee was Rev. Levy Daugherty whose warmth, friendliness, and serious heart kept the ministers "in there". Dr. Tyler Hendricks gave the first series of presentations entitled, "True Family Values: Creating a Faithful Christian Marriage". Dr. Hendricks developed this lecture series based on material extensively researched by Rev. Joong Hyun Pak and Dr. Andrew Wilson. Rev. Pak's and Dr. Wilson's work, in turn, was an explanation of the Family Pledge, which Rev. Moon said is the core of the material which he wants to communicate to the clergy. Explanations such as the four realms of heart, the dwelling of God in conjugal union, etc. were very well received. There is so much confusion in America today about what a family should be like. However, there are also many promising trends such as Promise Keepers, a men's association devoted to faithfulness in marriage, or the Fatherhood movement. However, it is only Unificationism, Divine Principle, which offers a clear explanation of how family life is supposed to be.
Aside from the logical, biblically-explained content itself, the methodology of Dr. Hendricks' teaching made all the difference. In addition to using an overhead projector, Dr. Hendricks employed a workbook for each minister to follow along with as he spoke. It was a "fill in the blanks" type. The effect of this is to maintain the participants' rapt attention. This method really works-no drowsy eyes here!
Kevin McCarthy's Divine Principle lectures had the ministers laughing one minute and crying the next. I suppose his years of teaching and all of his investment of heart have borne fruit in his ability to convey the Principle with depth and clarity. Rev. McCarthy made use of contemporary technology by using his laptop computer with output going to a large screen.
One particularly memorable and humorous part of Rev. McCarthy's lectures was when he related the story of King David, Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. You may recall that King David, in his lust for Bathsheba, was looking for a way to dispose of Uriah. According to Rev. McCarthy, David told Uriah to go the battlefield and try on a new uniform. Rev. McCarthy clicked his mouse, and the image on the screen changed from a classical picture of King David to ....a picture of a bulls-eye!
Our African-American brother from Chicago, Rev. Purnell Spicer, lectured Divine Principle in a sermonic style, using many Biblical references. In fact, all of the presenters made extensive use of the Bible, illustrating how the Bible attests to the Divine Principle. The audience leapt to life during Rev. Spicer's presentations.
In accordance with Father's wishes, the conference was filled to capacity with lectures. The only "time-off" was for a brief and inspirational visit to the Washington Times, and for the July 4th fireworks. We were warmly received by Mr. Joo at the Times. This provided an opportunity to witness the scope of Father's activity.
During the conference, we watched several videos of Father's life as well as a touching video about Jesus' life, which brought many to tears. The conference concluded with an explanation of the Blessing, including the various ceremonies involved. During several lectures, I sat next to a lady minister from Chicago, and a professor from Washington, DC. Each of them was very excited about participating in the next Blessing.
After the conference, I asked a New York minister for his impression of the seminar. His response was less than theological, but was simply to state that he was overwhelmed that Rev. Moon would provide deluxe accommodations and delicious meals for four days. I don't think he missed the point! The way to a man's heart is often through his stomach-he really appreciated Rev. Moon's love.
So far, approximately half of the clergy in attendance have expressed an interest in the Blessing, and around one third indicated that they might like to hold a Blessing in their church. I would attribute this positive response to several factors. Firstly, the conferences are of a high professional standard and make use of contemporary educational materials and techniques. Secondly, the presenters (Dr. Hendricks, Rev. McCarthy, Rev. Spicer, Rev. Daugherty, etc.) have developed their lectures well and have invested greatly in them. Thirdly, clergy, themselves, are looking for answers and help in family matters. Fourthly, a particular providential moment is upon us: it is the time for ministers to respond to God's call for today. In fact, Father urged us to simply "knock on the doors" of churches. To paraphrase the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time for ....visiting churches ....and that time is now.
These conferences have been extended through October 8. They are held every Tuesday through Friday at the Sheraton National in the Washington, DC suburb of Arlington, Virginia. We have an excellent window of opportunity to invite clergy to hear about True Family Values and Divine Principle. I hope that many of our members can invite Christian brothers and sisters to participate in one of these life-changing conferences. This is a gift from True Parents. It is also a realistic opportunity for Christian ministers to receive God's word and to bring the Blessing to their congregation.
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