40 Years in America
800 Ministers Attend DC True Family Values Conferences
The final True Family Values Ministry conference took place from December 10 through 12 at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. It had been just over six months since the first True Family Values Ministry seminar took place in June.
As the opening drew near, it became clear that many hundreds of ministers were registering for this, the final event. In the end, the tally was over eight hundred ministers from all over the country. There turned out to be so many participants that the originally planned hotel (the Sheraton in Arlington) ended up being too small and the conference had to be relocated to the much larger Washington Hilton, and even then, participants had to stay in five other nearby hotels in order for all to be accommodated. And so it was that the conference opened with an air of expectation as the overflow crowd packed into the auditorium to hear master of ceremonies, Levy Daugherty, offer the opening remarks.
Over the previous six months, the True Family Values contents had been revised, refined and improved with every conference. Throughout the conference, the 800 ministers gave their focused attention, while UC members listened with pride as Dr. Hendricks displayed confident mastery of his subject: True Family Values.
At one point, Dr. Hendricks explained how the situation confronted by Christians in America today is very similar to that faced by St. Paul when he traveled to Rome. In particular, the first chapter of Romans relates Paulís lamentation over the debauchery in Rome, a problem reminiscent of present-day America. During a lecture the following day, Dr. Hendricks asked the ministers which part a husband likes most in his wife: her hands, or is it, "Honey, I love you for your mind!?" The room erupted in a chorus of "amens" and loud acknowledgment as the ministers unanimously agreed on the value of their spouseís most holy place!
As most of us know, Kevin McCarthy has a unique ability to touch the heart, the mind and the funny bone all at the same time. (Did you know that John the Baptist and Elijah shopped in the same mall?) This ability comes in handy: for example, isnít it hard to justify the highly unusual way that God worked through the unique women of Jesusí lineage? By drawing attention to the humorous irony of each situation, Rev. McCarthy communicated the providential working of God, while avoiding sensitive moral and ethical dilemmas.
An unforgettable moment in the conference was the surprise visit of Dr. Bo Hi Pak, who brought greetings and Godís blessings from our True Parents. The ever-charismatic Dr. Pak stirred the hearts of the audience when he related a story about how, during the Korean War, he was in the U.S. for additional training with a group of other Korean army officers. They took a taxi from Georgia to...New York City and Washington, D.C., in order to see the sights, and to behold beloved America, before returning to probable death on the battlefield in Korea.
The conference featured an impressive array of clergy, or perhaps one should say "clerics." Seated in front throughout the conference was a group of Moslem leaders, including a Sufi cleric from Pakistan with over one and a half million followers. In addition, three theological school presidents, several bishops, and clergy from every race and a multitude of denominations, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, were in attendance. Father Athanasius Paul, a priest from the Orthodox Church, traveled to the seminar from California. He had been instructed to come by his leader, Pope Shinoda III, a leader of over 800,000 Orthodox Christians. One notable participant in the conference was a Sioux Indian Chief, a direct descendent of Chief Red Cloud and the head of more than 60,000 Native Americans. At the conclusion of the conference he offered a moving testimony, after which women from the tribe presented Rev. Pak with a beautiful ceremonial quilt which they had labored long to sew. Mayor Barryís assistant also came and shared a proclamation from the Mayor.
The conference concluded with an address by Rev. Joong Hyun Pak, President of the True Family Values Ministry. Speaking passionately, and quoting from Revelation 22:12-17, Rev. Pak emphasized to the ministers that one cannot enter the Kingdom of God without a family.
If this were not enough, reports once again came in that highlighted disparities between results in the U.S. and elsewhere. In Korea, blessings were "spreading like wildfire." In Africa, reportedly, a million couples received pre-Blessing. Taiwan reportedly had reached its goal of 100,000, and according to Rev. Pak, "so many couples are coming that they donít have enough staff to take care of them." Even Mexico reported 170,000 completed blessing applications by early June. Apart from unflattering comparisons, membersí anxieties were stirred by their awareness that the bar had been raised for Blessing í97. Instead of 36,000, the U.S. goal was 360,000 blessed couples. Rather than each member couple being responsible to bring 12 other couples, they now were asked to bring 160!
Fortunately, Pentecost of a certain type did occur. It basically involved a momentous shift in strategy and sensibility. In terms of strategy, members dispensed with the elaborate True Family Values lecture/festival apparatus and took the Blessing to the people by going directly to their homes. Thus, the door-to-door Blessing strategy was born. As one member wrote, "It seems so simple now but at that time it was a big breakthrough." Over the next several months, members devised ever more creative and efficient delivery systems. Blessing booths at county fairs and summer festivals were especially effective as were beach Blessings. In terms of sensibility, members no longer waited for direction or officiators from headquarters but took the Blessing into their own hands. Members, themselves, began conducting pre-Blessings, a practice that was quickly authorized by the movementís leadership. Far from resisting a loss of prerogative, leaders felt as though they had been rescued. In this manner, the Blessing í97 campaign became radically decentralized.
It was difficult to pinpoint precisely where the breakthroughs began. Early reports of innovative approaches came from Minnesota, Alaska and Canada (also part of the North American movement region). However, the most compelling testimonies came from Kentucky. There, a tribal messiah couple, Joe and Sun Hyang Willet, became the first American couple to pre-Bless 160 couples. Their testimony along with that of the Kentucky State Leader, Dennis Wooley, helped liberate and energize members throughout the U.S. Essentially, they demonstrated that ordinary members who conscientiously went out during evenings and on weekends could fulfill the Blessing goal.
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