Articles From the November 1997 Unification News
Chicago Ministers and the Blessing
by Richard Lemont-Chicago. IL
As the Chicago Community marches forward toward the November 29th Blessing of 3.6 million couples in Washington, D.C., we have held a series of banquets, programs and blessings. These programs overwhelmingly have centered on the foundation of Christian ministers that we have been working with throughout the past 15 years. Many of these ministers began relating to us back in 1983 when the ICC conferences began in the Bahamas. Other joined us through the CAUSA Seminars and still others joined us during the Common Suffering Fellowship. Many of the ministers went on the Korean ICC Seminars. Through the leadership of our Korean Regional Directors, we have worshipped with, served and visited these ministers. At one point we divided the city of Chicago up into the 50 political wards (districts) and assigned each Tribal Messiah Couple to take responsibility for all of the ICC/CAUSA ministers in their ward. Each couple would attend Sunday service, Wednesday night Bible study and help serve the minister in their community service projects. We would attend church anniversaries, birthday celebrations and other special occasions. Especially important was the time in between our providential eventswhen we could just visit and fellowship with the ministers. Some ministers would slip away for some period of timeit seemed that God called different ministers at different timesbut through it all, many of our CAUSA and ICC ministers stayed with us.
But what has been happening since the Blessing providence began is that more and more new ministers have been joining us. This is in addition to our old friends who continue to support us. Examples here are Rev. M.E. Sardon, whom we met through Project Volunteer in 1983, Reverend Olivia Jones, who met us through the Korean ICC trip (and who still puts a thank-you to our True Parents on her anniversary service bulletin) and Rev. Walter Butts, "the Big Man", an incredible gospel singer ("Get High on Jesus") who has sung for nearly every major program which we have held over the past decade, culminating in his singing for our True Parents on their Birthday in 1995. But also, many new ministers have been reached through WFWP conferences and the True Family Values Ministry. One of our more recent friends, Rev. T.L. Barrett, has hosted True Mother and Rev. Pak and held several blessing ceremonies in his Church. He even spoke at the Holy Wedding of our True Parents youngest sons, held last September.
So it is on this foundation that our Regional "Bishop", Rev. Ki Hun Kim gathered over 200 ministers and clergy for a banquet in Chicago to kick off our final 40-day preparation for the November 29th blessing. What was unique about this gathering was the mixture of new ministers with so many of our old friends. Rev. Joong Hyun Pak, our Continental Leader, flew in to greet many of the True Family Ministry graduates whom he had met in Washington, D.C. His slide show and presentation focusing on the upcoming blessing deeply moved the ministers to prepare their members to go to RFK Stadium. Even the fact that they would have to leave on Thanksgiving night and return early in the morning, just a couple of hours before their own Sunday service, seemed to be no obstacle. Rev. Barrett had sent seven busses to Washington for the Million Man March, and now he felt inspired to send ten busses for the 3.6 Million Couple Blessing.
Dr. Archie Hargraves, the pastor of the South Shore Community Church, whom we met over 10 years ago when he was working with Rev. James Bevel, offered the invocation to the program.
Our Japanese sisters and the True Family Values Chorale provided beautiful music. The Rev. Thomas Jackson, who as President of the South Shore Ministerial Association had sent out the invitational letter to the ministers, offered the introduction to the program. We had never worked with Rev. Jackson before, but his coalition of Church of God in Christ Churches is a powerful organization on the South Side of Chicago. Rev. Barrett offered remarks introducing Rev. Pak as the keynote speaker.
What really inspired me was the quality and level of the ministers who filled the room on this Saturday afternoon. Several of the ministers confessed to having other events that they had to skip, cancel or come late to. One very eminent minister even left his home filled with house guests from out of town in order to join us. And the reality was that in a banquet room filled to capacity, even one extra table had to be set up, well after the luncheon had begun. And the ministers did not come alone. They brought their assistant pastors, their ministers of music, their friends, their families and other ministers.
So, as we proceed toward November 29th, our hope is that we will be able to combine our 185 blessed couples, along with significant numbers from the congregations of our ministers, to fill busses to join the celebration at RFK stadium. Even today, Rev. Barrett and Rev. Dunlap have taken the early bird shuttle to Washington in order to join Rev. Kwak, Mr. Salonen and Mayor Marion Barry of Washington in announcing the schedule of the World Culture and Sports Festival and the Blessing Celebration.
In Chicago, we have suspended our regular Sunday Service until after the blessing in order for our members to visit churches to invite their congregations to RFK Stadium. We are also attending their Wednesday night Bible studies and coming together at our church early Sunday morning for inspiration and preparation. We are also gathering on Monday nights for testimonies.
What is totally apparent is that God is working. Through the experience at the Ministers Banquet and the individual experiences of our members at the various churches, it is apparent that God is real, God is alive and God wants every faithful Christian in America to participate at the RFK Stadium Blessing celebration. So our members are getting out, we are visiting the churches and we are working to fill our busses to come to Washington, D.C.
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