Unification News for July and August 1998
Victory at MSG: The 2000-Voice Choir
by Rev. Adruma Victoria-NYC
All praises and glory to God as I attempt to share how Christ and the Holy Spirit brought the victory at Blessing ’98 through the 2000-voice choir.
Long before we did anything, God and True Parents paved the way for the saints of heaven and earth to rally to the call of the God-centered family. With Heavenly Father pushing my wife and personal messiah Fiona and I to go to Kenya, our nation of providence, we knew clearly it was time. Yet it had been two decades since I could make a substantial offering to God in America, where I was born.
I told my sons Justin and Alex that after Hoon Dok Hae every morning, I was going to do some running. Justin suggested that I run around Madison Square Garden, as a condition for victory, so two to three days a week I would run four to seven times around the Garden. It seems that God accepted my offering.
Just before Fiona left for Kenya with Ashia and Kiah, two of our four children, I spoke with David Eaton and asked if there was a need for Performing Arts support for Blessing ’98. He said there just might be something I could do to help out.
I understand that at Barrytown, Rev. Levy Daugherty of Norfolk VA first came up with the inspiration of a thousand-voice choir to perform at the Blessing. David said that when Family Federation for World Peace and Unification General Secretary Neil Albert Salonen returned from Uganda, we would see about my coming on board as an associate. Having worked with David for the Yankee Stadium and Washington Monument campaigns, I explained my qualifications as an entertainment producer for the World CARP Convention 1987 in Berlin. Praise God, my brother believed in me; and on April 29 I met with David Eaton, Rev. Yang of Washington DC and Dr. Tyler Hendricks, who welcomed me to the task.
Dr. Hendricks explained that we wanted to put together a thousand-voice choir and needed a few appropriate songs. I thought the songs should be exciting, yet simple, so that many voices which had never before sung together could learn them. I suggested "Amazing Grace" and a contemporary version of "Kumbaya." Dr. Hendricks liked my impromptu performance.
David Eaton indicated that we needed a music director and choir director. That night we got on the phone and pulled in Mr. Horace Donnell as music director. I thought he was the best choice, because he had been my high school teacher and was the music director at my own Blessing at Madison Square Garden in 1982. One of my requests to David was that my support team would include my sister Sandra Lowen, who wrote so many beautiful and inspiring songs in our church. I just wanted the honorable root of our Black membership in our True Parents’ kingdom to be with me as this grace of Father God touches His children.
Now we needed a choir director. I went to a National Action Network (NAN) Prayer Breakfast in Harlem and met Bishop Billings. I asked him if he had a choir director, to which he answered "Angela Moses." I had brought a tape of the songs I thought would be good, and I gave them to Angela’s secretary, Monique McAllistair. When she spoke about Ms. Moses, I felt the tingle of the Holy Spirit. I called Ms. Moses and shared about the idea of the thousand-voice choir. She said, "I bet you don’t have a woman on your list." I said, "Yes, we do." When I mentioned famous folks, she said humbly, ‘Well, I guess you’d better choose them; they’re famous." Yet I had the thought in my mind that a worthy person without great recognition would be just fine.
I decided to go to New Life Tabernacle to check their choir that Tuesday. The following Sunday, Rev. Joong Hyun Pak and Dr. Hendricks heard them and were quite inspired.
When I entered New Life Tabernacle, the congregation welcomed me warmly, and I said, "Let’s pray, so that our time together will be in God’s hands." They freely offered love and respect to the person they never saw before. When they sang, I felt proud to be Black. I told them they should be on a global level, as they were so filled with the Holy Ghost power and heart. I said, "You’ve all heard of the Spike Lee movie He Got Game? Well, when it comes to NLT, ‘They got God’!" Then I met the wonderful Angela Moses, pure and lovely in the Lord. Angela prayed, "Dear God, you know why Brother Adruma came here. Please bless him, Lord." And He did.
I knew God chose this choir and Angela to lead the thousand-voice choir to victory at Madison Square Garden. Yet I waited for the proper channels to approve what I knew was approved in Heaven. I told Angela, "God chose you. There may be others more famous, but you are a lady unknown who is worthy of being known by the world." So I reported to Rev. Pak and David Eaton that we had the central part of the choir.
Building the Thousand-Voice Choir
It just naturally flowed that the process of building the choir would follow the Four Position Foundation and the Three Stages of Growth. During the whole process of assembling the choir, I felt guided by God and the Holy Spirit. Amen. It can be likened to the yarmulke worn in Judaism. I felt a spiritual yarmulke connected to the top of my head as True Parents’ spirit guided me past obstacles, pitfalls and loneliness. New Life Tabernacle was to learn "Amazing Grace," "Kumbaya" and later the "Hallelujah Chorus," which Rev. Pak chose. Sandra Lowen, my production assistant and consultant, came with me to start work on the arrangements of the few songs we had. Together with Mr. Donnell, we were feeling hopeful. I just had to check our "Kumbaya" arrangement for copyright purposes. At Mr. Donnell’s studio, Sandra Lowen and I laid the foundation for the song "Blessings." Sandra and I would call each other and discuss our lyrics as we sourced out the song. David Eaton, producer of the event, gave the budget and went to the studios to record the pilot songs. NLT had a version of "Amazing Grace" arranged by Mr. Charles Minor, and Miss Timmany Figueroa had a version of "Kumbaya." I told David that NLT’s version of "Amazing Grace" was better than mine: let’s just start the song with the traditional intro and then go into the contemporary downbeat. It was a done deal.
Our Church Pastors and Regional Leaders as God’s Instruments
Surely Heavenly Father holds dear in His heart the work of Pastors Pierre-Louis, Hori, Burson, and many others whose deeds God knows. In particular, I remember Rev. Juanita Pierre-Louis inviting me to the East Harlem Prison Ministry and Brother Phil McCracken inviting me to a university in Queens, where he personally witnessed to L.L. Cool J. I invited Ms. Lynette Carr, choir director of Westbury, Long Island, Community Church to join our choir, and she did.
God vindicated me in Harlem through Rev. Alan Inman’s invitation to a prayer breakfast at Sylvia’s Restaurant, where I could meet Dr. Washington and Pastor Derrick Porter-men who have led with heart and hand to make a difference in Harlem. I even got to play drums for Rev. Porter’s Sunday service at his church. Seeing these men give out True Parents’ Blessing of the Holy Wine to their congregations was deeply moving, indeed.
A growing body of bishops and pastors connected to us, and with the work of the Holy Spirit, leaders and members united together, the foundation for victory at MSG was imminent. General Kim said it would be a 2000-voice choir. "And let the Church say-Amen!"
Mobilization Coordinator Rev. Godwin D’Silva and I went to MSG to source out the area for the choir. At that time we were only thinking of 1000 people.
On to D.C.
Dr. Yang, assistant to Rev. Pak, inspired us to go to D.C. to teach the D.C. choirs the music and strengthen the choir foundation. Ms. Moses, Mr. Minor, Ms. Figueroa and I witnessed the Holy Spirit singing in our D.C. Church as never before. It was moving to hear these beautiful young voices sing the songs of God’s Kingdom.
My New Brother
On the production side of things, I interfaced regularly with David Eaton. Yet I was also responsible for mobilization through the choir, and Rev. Pak assigned Rev. Eric Holt as my new Abel. This was my first opportunity to work with Rev. Holt. I found him to be so supportive of me-assisting and fine-tuning the details-and he so helped me in making my offering that I discovered a new brother in True Parents.
Prior to the event, Rev. Pak had us report on a regular basis to him on the choir’s progress. Pastor Figueroa received hurtful persecution because of his affiliation with Rev. Moon, to the point that the venue for his ordination to become a bishop was revoked. Ms. Moses, too, weathered many storms of scorn and ignorance. I could feel Rev. Pak’s deep concern that everything would turn all right. I assured him that Ms. Moses and New Life Tabernacle’s leadership were committed to this event because of their love for God; and the persecution they faced from other religious institutions would not deter their faith or their commitment.
I sent Rev. David Reed to Ms. Moses’ home to personally escort her to the Garden that morning. My sons Justin and Alex helped out as ushers, along with Aliso Lowen. At the choir registration on Eighth Avenue, Mrs. Billie Sabo and Sandra Lowen helped register the choirs. The choir members began to stream in. With everything secured at registration, I went to the choir area and directed the groups to their respective seating.
It was ten minutes before "show-time." We had well over 1600 people in the choir, and people were still streaming in. Mindful of the need to be prompt, I was concerned that we start on time. Miraculously, Ms. Moses lifted her arms and "Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound" filled the Garden with God’s love and glory. Sandra Lowen and I were standing with the choir and bathing in the Love of God. Admittedly, hearing 2000 voices singing the song we had written together for the glory of God and True Parents was a Blessing in itself. Ms. Moses was fabulous, and the choir sang better than she had expected. As I looked toward Heaven, my greatest joy was sharing this victory in my heart with my beloved wife Fiona.
May this Godly victory spread forth forevermore.
Rev. Adruma Victoria, who was Blessed at Madison Square Garden on July 1, 1982, was a Performing Arts member of the original Go World Brass Band and performed at Yankee Stadium and Washington Monument. He was also a member of CARP’s Blue Tuna Band, under the guidance of Rev. Chung Goo "Tiger" Park. He rallied for 13 years in Germany and was present at the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. He and his family are National Messiahs to the nation of Kenya in West Africa. His wife and two daughters have preceded him to Nairobi since March of this year. He and his two sons plan to join them in the next few months.
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