40 Years in America

The 2,000-Voice Choir

Adruma Victoria

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. Praise God, on April 29 I met with David Eaton, Rev. Yang of Washington, D.C. 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 rendition.

David Eaton indicated that we needed a music director and a 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.

Choir Director

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 some 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 out 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 a 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’s 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

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.

On the production side of things, I interfaced regularly with David Eaton. Yet I was also responsible for mobilization of 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 helped me so much in making my offering that I discovered a new brother in True Parents.

June 13

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 out 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 1,600 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 2,000 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.

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