Articles from the September 1997 Unification News

True Family Blessing held NYC

by Richard L. Lewis-NYC

The Holy Wedding of True Parents’ sons, Young Jin Nim and Hyung Jin Nim, took place on Saturday, September 6, at the Manhattan Center in New York City.

The wedding of Mr. Young Jin Moon to Miss. Hwa Jung Yoo and of Mr. Hyung Jin Moon to Miss. Yun Ah Lee occasioned a day of ceremony and celebration attended by elders and leaders of the Unification community from around the world. This Blessing sets the stage for the Blessing of 3.6 million couples worldwide that will occur November 29 worldwide centered on the Main Ceremony at the RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.

Young Jin Nim, born in Tarrytown, NY on June 22, 1978, is Rev. & Mrs. Moon’s tenth child and sixth son. He is currently attending Columbia University majoring in East Asian civilization. His bride, Hwa Jung Yoo, born in Inchon, South Korea on September 2, 1977, is the daughter of 1800-couple Jong-So Yoo and Sang-Nan Lee. Mr. Yoo is with the Hankook Titanium Company in Korea. Hwa Jung Nim is currently a sophomore at Seoul National University with her major in Korea traditional vocal arts.

Hyung Jin Nim, born in Tarrytown, NY on September 26, 1979, is Rev. & Mrs. Moon’s eleventh child and seventh son. He is currently matriculating at Fairfield College in Connecticut with emphasis on Spanish studies. His bride, Yun Ah Lee, born in Pussan, South Korea, on November 6, 1978, is the daughter of 777-couple Seung Dae Lee and Eun Jung Joo. The Lees will soon be moving to Iceland as National Messiahs. Yun Ah Nim is currently a freshman at Kookmin University, Seoul, with a major in design and the visual arts.

The celebration of the Blessing had three stages. In the morning was the Blessing Ceremony itself, in the afternoon, the traditional Korean Peh Baek Ceremony, and the day concluded with an evening banquet and entertainment.

The Blessing Ceremony

This day also celebrated another, if less historic, event: the long-awaited resurrection of the Manhattan Center Opera House-this Blessing being the event that inaugurated its new incarnation as the Hammerstein Ballroom.

This 3,000 capacity auditorium with its full-sized stage, three balconies and a 150-foot ceiling-that only six months ago was a derelict wasteland suitable only for storage-had been transformed into a glorious space decorated with flowers and ribbons now quite suitable for royalty. Of particular note was the spectacular restoration of the ceiling mural soaring 150 feet above the proceedings [see story on back page].

The setting of the stage was dramatically classical: against a cerulean blue diorama a semicircle of tall, white Grecian columns stood with the dais and Parents’ chairs at its focus. The hall quickly filled to overflowing with invited guests for the ceremony which began at 10 o’clock in the morning.

As the music of Song of the Garden quieted the excited buzzing of conversation, members of the True Family entered and took their seats. Then Dr. Bo Hi Pak, as sprightly and ebullient as ever, took the podium and opened the proceedings by inviting the audience to stand and sing Song of the Banquet.

After Dr. Pak gave an overview of the ceremony and an explanation of the symbolism involved, Dr. Tyler Hendricks, President of the American Church, gave the invocation. The processional then began with the stately entrance of twenty-one pairs of bridesmaids-dressed in soft pink dresses with bright pink hair ribbons-and groomsmen, second generation blessed couples who stood on either side of the central isle carpeted with the traditional Korean festive fabric saekdong-chun with its vivid, multicolor stripes.

To joyful acclaim, Father and Mother in their ceremonial robes then entered and walked slowly down the aisle to the chords of the Hallelujah Chorus. They ascended the dais where their third son, Hyun Jin Nim, handed a candle lighter to Mother who passed it to Father, who then lit the two candelabra of seven candles on either side of the dais.

Taking their seats, the entrance of the brides and grooms was heralded by the entrance of four of the youngest grandchildren who skipped down the aisle scattering white rose petals all around.

To the music of the Wedding March, the two wedding couples entered side-by-side and walked slowly towards the stage. Twenty-one steps away from True Parents they halted and bowed, and repeated this at fourteen steps away. Ascending the stage they made a final bow seven steps before True Parents. This sequence, as Dr. Pak had just explained, symbolizing the growth to perfection through its three stages.

They then stood before True Parents who sprinkled them with Holy Water from two silver basins held by assistants.

Father, in his distinctive resonant voice, then solemnly recited the Wedding Vows to the couples in Korean and received their assent-the formality lifting somewhat at the end when Father made an aside in Korean which elicited chuckles from those in the audience who understood Korean.

Father and Mother each raised a hand over the heads of the couples and Father began to pray over them. His deep, sonorous voice filled the auditorium with guttural Korean as he passionately spoke to God. In a tender moment during the silence following his prayer, Mother leaned forward and wiped a tear away from the cheek of her youngest son.

The attendants then carried in a red velvet cushion bearing the wedding rings. Turning to face each other, the brides and grooms removed their gloves and, with the assistance of the attendants, exchanged rings. They then faced the audience for the first time and Father’s voice rang out over them with the Proclamation of the Blessing, greeted with enthusiastic applause.

Dr. Pak then read a few of the many letters of congratulations that had been sent to Rev. and Mrs. Moon.

A leading US congressman expressed his "warmest congratulations on the marriage of your two sons…. I believe in the importance of a strong and unified family and commend you for your commitment to maintaining your family ties."

Marion Barry, Mayor of Washington DC, wrote, "In light of your efforts to rebuild families through the True Family Values Ministry, the Pure Love Movement and the International Blessing to be held here in November, we certainly want to congratulate on this day of special joy for your family."

Richard Daley, Mayor of Chicago, wrote that he was "delighted to add my heartiest congratulations to the many you will receive on your wedding day."

Jerry Fallwell, Pastor, Lynchburg, VA, wrote that, "I pray that this will be the beginning of an unending experience of joy and fulfillment as you serve God together for the rest of your life."

Dr. David Billings, Church of God in Christ International, wrote, "I wish to congratulate on the blessed marriage of your sons. Our prayers go with these couples."

Minister Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam, wrote, "Congratulations on your solemnized expression of your desire to become as One. May Allah bless your journey and make you successful, for truely, the Kingdom of God must be based on God-Centered successful marriages and God-Centered successful family life."

Shaykh Abdul-Karim M. Ahmad, United Moslem Movement, wrote, "May Allah’s blessing be upon you and your family."

Dr. Pak, holding a sheaf of letters, concluded by remarking that there were by far to many for him to read.

Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak then took the podium to give his Congratulatory Address "on behalf of True Parents’ worldwide foundation." He gave a brief overview of providential history leading up to how "all mankind can now return to God, it is the destiny of all people to pass through the Blessing and establish true life, lineage and love." He recalled the many difficulties overcome at the time of True Parents Blessing and the struggle to expand the circle of Blessing to its current extent of, at last count, eleven million (a number which elicited an explosion of delight from the assembled guests).

The second congratulatory address was given by Dr. Richard Rubenstein, president of Bridgeport University. He spoke of marriage in terms of the unity of mind and body, heaven and earth and concluded his address by quoting Moses, in resonant Hebrew followed by a translation, "May the Lord bless you and keep you."

The third address was given by Dr. T. L. Barrett, Pastor, Life Center Church of God in Christ, Chicago. He recalled the visit to his church of "a powerful woman, more regal and royal than Queen Elizabeth-True Mother of Mothers, Mrs. Moon." He spoke of holding Blessings for the members of his church. He concluded that he "would do all in my power to help fulfill the goal of 36 million blessed couples," a pledge that drew a explosion of approval from all present.

Yoshimi Kadota, a Japanese opera singer, then sang a hymn of praise followed by a rousing "Three Manseis" led by Father.

To the strains of Mendelsohn’s Wedding March, the couples then walked down the aisle amidst clouds of confetti and streamers-as the assembled guests went ecstatic-followed by the grandchildren attendants and, finally, True Parents.

While this was the official end of the ceremony, no one left as it was now time for taking the photos, a lengthy process but a highly informal and enjoyable one.

With this done, True Parents exited the hall and, almost immediately, the crew appeared and politely encouraged us all to leave so they could set up the hall for the evening banquet.

Peh Baek Ceremony

While the morning ceremony focused on the union of man and woman as a couple, the afternoon Peh Baek ceremony is focused on the fact that families are also united by a wedding. The purpose of this traditional ceremony is to welcome the newlyweds into their new family and clan, and to bestow blessings of lineage and prosperity. This was a much smaller affair and, consequently, admission tickets were few and hard to obtain.

The Crystal Room of the New Yorker Hotel was packed well before the start of the ceremony with atmosphere provided by tinkling, atonal folk music. The floor was carpeted in white cloth with a saekdong-chun aisle leading from the door to the offering table. This was laden with the elaborate towers of fruits, nuts and candies in intricate, geometrical patterns. Behind the towers, a table was set for four to dine by attendants entering with many dishes, including a whole roast duck topped with a little paper crown. To the side were the two elegant spires of the wedding cakes.

The True Children entered, dressed in Korean costume, and took their seats to the side of the offering table. Rev. Kwak opened the proceedings, and all present faced the center aisle as True Parents entered in Korean dress-Father in pale green, Mother in deep red and bright blue-and they went and sat behind the offering table.

Rev. Kwak spoke at length in Korean (no translation, unfortunately, as is the new custom) at the end of which the wedding couple arrived and stood on the threshold of the room. Their costumes were extraordinarily elaborate: the male dress including a black hat (that, to my mind, evoked the rounded mountains characteristic of Chinese paintings) and a heavy metallic gold-and black belt over maroon clothes. The female dress included an black and gold headdress that flowed all the way down the back, a heavy white cloth that was carried over the arms near the forehead, and a voluminous apron of vivid red. These costumes were so ornate that a pair of attendants had to help them sit down and stand up.

As they stood in the doorway, Father to prayed softly and passionately. After his prayer, the couples walked down the aisle and bowed before True Parents and sat before the table. The parents of the brides then served them wine and they solemnly drank it.

When this was finished the spirit of the room changed dramatically from liturgical to festive as people started rushing to the front to get a good view of what was to happen. Attendants took towers of grapes and nuts from the offering table to Father and Mother who both seized a great handful-first of grapes, then of nuts-and then, much to my surprise, flung them over the table at Young Jin’s bride who, opening her apron, attempted to catch as many as possible. Her catch was wildly cheered by the crowd now surrounding her.

Parents then repeated the Bestowing of Fruits on the bride of Hyung Jin Nim who also got a rousing cheer.

Father then snapped a few words of Korean and the room quickly reverted to solemnity as the guests scurried back to their places.

The next step involved such a lot of kumbays-full, formal bows-that it was difficult to keep track of who was bowing to who, but the program, luckily, contained a complete list: couples to parents, husband and wife to each other, couples to elder siblings, to younger siblings, youngest children to the couples, couples to parents-in-law.

Dr. David S. C. Kim then animatedly led the guests in a round of "Happy Wedding Day to You" as the couples cut their wedding cakes with ceremonial swords.

The couples then went behind the offering table and sat at the table. The first thing they did was for the new husband to feed his new wife noodles from a bowl-noodles representing long life in the Korea ceremony. The tiny portions offered by the husbands were clearly insufficient in Mother’s eyes because she made her boys heap them on the chopsticks to much laughter from the women by now all clustered around the table again.

Everything then quieted down for a while as, mainly hidden by the offering table, the two couples completed the ceremonial meal together.

This marked the official end of the ceremony and the start of the photography session. Following this, Father led everyone in four manseis to complete the afternoon’s celebrations.

Banquet

Returning that evening to the Hammerstein Ballroom it was clear that the Manhattan Center crew has spent a busy afternoon-the room had been transformed into an elegant banquet hall. The head table was on the semicircle first balcony which had been converted into an intimate space with beige drapes. On the stage were two elegant wedding cakes and the main floor was covered with circular tables all beautifully decorated with flowers and crystal.

Seating was by numbered invitation and there were many hundreds of guests all taking their places at the tables. This writer-lucky to have an invitation at all-had a setback at the start: the assigned table, way in the back and under the balcony, was already full. This report might have had to be second-hand if, after minutes of anxious waiting, an usher had not arrived and escorted me to one of the best tables: center front with a view of everything. This stroke of personal fortune, it turned out, was because an honored guest had to cancel at the last moment, unknowingly bequeathing to me a fabulous spot to record-and enjoy-the proceedings. At our table was Rev. Barrett who had given the third congratulatory address in the morning and he entertained a stream of people all telling him how moved they had been by his words.

A host of waiters swirled into the hall and, within minutes, we all had a delicious-looking smoked salmon appetizer before us. This was the only challenge of the evening: looking at this delicacy for what seemed ages as emcee Peter Kim gave an overview of what we could expect to happen that evening.

A fanfare announced the arrival of Parents and the wedding party who took their places at the high table. After a tumultuous welcome, the wedding couples came down onto the stage for the cutting of the wedding cakes. After the by now traditional struggle to light the candles, the cakes were cut as Peter Kim led the guests in singing "Happy Wedding Day to You." The task completed, two guests came forward and presented the couples with gifts which they accepted to much applause.

Mr. Neil Salonen then took the podium and said grace over the meal. As soon as he had finished the host of waiters reappeared with what looked like champagne but turned out to be sparkling apple juice and filled our glasses. Everyone stood and Peter Kim led the toast to the happy couples.

To much applause the couples returned to the high table and, at last, we were invited to eat and I fell upon the smoked salmon.

Once the main course had been served-chateaubriand of beef-Alan Inman, emcee for the entertainment portion of the evening, appeared on stage and started the show with an anecdote of how he had ended up by mistake in the Grand Ballroom upstairs where a very sophisticated audience was celebrating the accomplishments of the TV soaps.

The curtains opened revealing a breathtaking diorama of the earth in space with the New York skyline silhouetted; the setting for Wedding Bells on Broadway, six couples doing vigorous, youthful dancing to show melodies.

Next, Mr. Inman informed us that Hyung Jin Nim had studied the bugle in school and to honor this was the next set, three buglers performing "Bugler’s Holiday", a brassy (what else) fast-paced piece that had everyone tapping along.

Next was the University of Bridgeport choir-a mixed choir of about fifty young men and women dressed in simple black-and-white conducted by Moon Sook Choi in a dress of sparkling silver that blazed and flashed under the lights. They sang a series of Korean folk songs that started off softly and ended with a vigorous climax of powerful sound.

Next was Meet the Beatles with Ben and Stian Lorentzen and band who, with their basin cut hairdos, ran through a medley of Beatle songs that were so well done that, closing my eyes, I felt that the originals were back on stage.

Back on stage, Alan Inman then introduced singer Kathy Sharpton and told a few amusing anecdotes of how he, as a Republican, got a lot of flack for knowing her husband, Rev. Sharpton. She first sang a powerful rendition of the Lord’s Prayer followed by a jazzy rendition of We are Family.

Mr. Inman then spoke briefly in appreciation of Peter Kim’s long years of service to True Parents before handing the emcee role back to him for the final segment.

"Are you curious about the new in-laws," he asked us rhetorically and got his answer, a resounding, "YES!"

First Mr. and Mrs. Yoo took center stage and, after a bow to the head table, he spoke a few words of appreciation translated for us by Peter Kim. They then sang a sweet, soft song together.

Rev. and Mrs. Lee were then introduced and, after a short speech, they sang a robust song together.

Next, six of the True Grandchildren-three boys and three girls-took to the stage. They sang three delightful songs with the smallest girl, without a trace of stage fright, leading the clapping and the smallest boys battling for control of the angle of their microphone.

Next on stage were grandchildren from In Jin Nim’s family on the piano: first a tiny girl at the huge grand who skillfully played her piece, followed by her older brother who played a perky piece with great flair. He was then joined by his older brother and they performed a fast-paced duet together on the shared keyboard.

Kwon Jin Nim then took center stage and, as "a long-time married man" gave some advice to the newly-weds. He then sang To Dream the Impossible Dream accompanied by Kevin Pickard on piano. As an encore, he sang God Bless the USA acappella and exited the stage after a rousing cheer of "God Bless America."

Next on stage to wild applause was Hyo Jin Nim who, after the brief comment that "life goes on, yes," launched into song. That power and passion was there in his voice as he rasped out two Korean blues songs. For an encore, he sang a reworked version of Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven., sung with such intensity and tears that it cast a poignant spell on us all.

After Hyo Jin Nim’s departure, Mr. Kim invited the newly-wed couples down onto the stage to perform where they were showered by confetti and streamers and bedecked with flowery leis.

Young Jin Nim-looking rather stage-struck-and his wife sang a lovely, soft love song together after she spoke a few words of thanks to True Parents. For an encore, Hwa Jung Nim, with a little encouragement from her new husband, stood forward and sang solo an operatic aria in a lovely clear voice.

Hyung Jin Nim’s couple had the opposite dynamic-he was ebulliently at ease while she was shy and retiring; her words of thanks were so quiet that Peter Kim had to stand next to her to pick them up. They then sang a sweet song together with the encore a solo by Hyung Jin Nim: a wild and uninhibited rendition of La Bamba -including a break dance spin on the floor that astonished everyone including his wife.

All the True Children and Grandchildren then arrived on stage and Hyun Jin Nim spoke movingly of his two-no longer baby-brothers. Then, as the assembled family sang Oh Danny Boy, the grandchildren gamboled exuberantly with the confetti and streamers on the floor, completely upstaging their parents singing behind them.

To prolonged applause, True Parents joined their family on stage and Father spoke briefly of how the Blessing is eternal and continues in spirit world. Once we have accomplished the 360 million Blessing, he concluded, God will be free to move in the world to influence what happens.

Mother then sang Battle Hymn of the Republic while Father provided an erratic backup in his bass register. They then sang a sweet duet together, Mother’s clear contralto complementing Father’s bass rumble.

Finally, all heaven broke loose as they launched into Um My Ya Nu Nah: everybody joined in and Father started to conduct the audience: first the right section then the left then both together; the children started to dance with each other and the grandchildren continued to express their delight in swathing themselves in confetti and streamers (which they had been doing all along anyway); Rev. Kwak started to cavorting in a most uncharacteristic manner and, belying his age, Dr. Pak started leaping in the air holding hands with the youngsters; and Hyung Jin Nim did some more break dancing on the floor. Father, beaming benevolently all the while, conducted the chaos with evident pleasure.

Eventually Father halted the music and he ended the day with a question: "Are you ready for 3.6 million and Washington, DC?" to which came back a resounding roar: "YES!"

On this upbeat note, the fabulous day of celebration ended.

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