The Words of the Eaton Family
Witnessing Summit, New York-New Jersey
January 14, 2008
The following is a summation and the presentation of ideas from the "Power of Music" Breakout Sessions at the New York-New Jersey Witnessing Summit, held January 14, 2008. There were eight initiatives suggested by the participants of the two breakout sessions. George Kasakos, Joe Leonard, Vince Aparo and I were the moderators and are committed to expedite these ideas. Obviously there are many issues to discuss, but here are eight that were front and center.
1.) A Band in Every Church! This might not be possible in many places, but in larger communities, the development of a serious music ministry with a good band and singers can greatly enhance any service or activity. Saddleback, Journey Church, Baptist Full Gospel Churches all make music a priority- --not an afterthought, (Chapter 15 of Rick Warrenís book, The Purpose Driven Church.) In relationship to this, it was strongly suggested (by several BCs) that in local communities where bands already exist, that there is more inclusion of other musicians/participants and ideas about repertory with an emphasis on more contemporary (newer) styles/songs. This is crucial for the outreach to the 18-35 demographic.
2.) Develop a small local recording studio. Again, this might only be attainable in larger church communities. A coop situation, where different individuals contribute or buy components of a studio (microphones, mixer, speakers, instruments, etc.) can be a way to make it cost-effective and allows for "ownership" to develop. George Kasakos and Diego Costa have a wealth of understanding about this topic. A small studio can be a significant lure to people whom BCs want to attract and witness to. It also is something that Father has told us to develop over the years. By assisting others with their music, one can more easily create the conditions for "natural surrender."
3.) The Coffee House. Once a month (or more) have an evening of music and fellowship (no lectures). Open mike/karaoke can be a part of this. This can be an effective icebreaker. We did this in CARP and with the Go World Brass Band in the Boston center on Beacon Street. If there is a local BC band or musicians, they can perform or invite others to participate. Timan Brown has been a pioneer of this type of initiative.
4.) An Annual Music/Art Workshop. This is something the BC Artsfest was doing for awhile. Having a week long gathering (at UTS or UB, e.g.) of talented individuals where BCs can get together and share and study can be a valuable experience. There would be three areas of emphasis: The study of Unificationism vis-à-vis art (Unification Thought, DP, Fatherís words on art/music, music history), practical skills (recording technology, performances, song writing, MIDI technology, etc.) and having a public performance at the end of the workshop would be a great vehicle for witnessing for the local community in which the workshop is held. Panel of Second generation
5.) Peace Song Writing Contest. A peace song contest can be a way to create way outreach and, like the Coffee House idea, can facilitate an icebreaker strategy. A theme like "What Does Peace Sound Like" would be a great tie-in to the Global Peace Festival in August 2008. The winning entries could be considered for performance at the GPF, and a CD could be produced that might be used to fundraise or witness for future GPF events. This kind of project could be done on a national or local level. Also, with the video age in full swing, a video contest is also a viable way to develop good contacts, "What Does Peace Look Like?"
6.) Songwriters Circle. This is related to Initiative No. 5. Many people have expressed the desire to use songwriting as away to invite friends into our sphere. This can help people develop their craft as well as a way to meet people and witness.
7.) Talent Shows/Contests. Several people suggested this idea as a way to meet people in the manner of the Scientology ads for attracting people who are interested in the music/arts industry. Again, this could be a local event. Rev. Darryl Clark of New York FREETEENS has produced several annual Gospel music competitions with prize money and performances that have been used as icebreaker events.
8.) A National Cultural Department / Office. This is something that Dr. Yang and Rev. Jenkins have suggested and perhaps the time is right to bring this idea to fruition in recent discussion. The Korean and Japanese movements have this type of office with a staff that expedites the various production and cultural activities within those nations -- tours, Holy Days, Blessings. Having several interns working in conjunction with National Headquarters, in much the same way that Rev. Schanker has done in Washington, might be the way to get this started. The establishment of a Cultural Department in America can be a way to help create a greater focus.
200 participants join the Witnessing Summit at the Ocean Place Resort and Spa at Long Branch, New Jersey As someone who has worked in the performing arts in the Unification Church for 32 years, (and professionally before joining UC), I have been a staunch advocate for a significant arts/culture presence. In the truth/beauty/ goodness paradigm as articulated in the Divine Principle, beauty corresponds to emotion and art is powerful expression of emotion. In a very real sense, artistic endeavors can be said to be the realization of the Third Blessing as we become co-creators with God. Our 2nd Generation surely intuits this and as a result, they are influenced greatly by culture and desire to get involved with culture and art.
In the early history of performing arts in America, Father often asserted the idea that music and religion go "hand in hand" as agents to bring people to a higher consciousness and to ultimately establish a culture of peace.
In 1995 (in Brazil) Father called ___ and me to a meeting and over breakfast he outlined a plan to use art as a way to advance Godís providence. ___ and I have continued to implement Fatherís ideas wherever and whenever we can. It remains the raison díetre of our musical endeavors, and imparting this to BCs is a necessary aspect of our future as mentors.
In that meeting Father instructed us to assist other musicians in the pursuit of their career development by helping them record, videotape, and perform their music.
In the process we could then teach the ideals of our movement and create an international arts movement based on the idea of "creating a moral revolution in the arts." The idea of utilizing art and culture as a way to create the conditions for a moral and ethical society has been articulated by Confucius, Plato, Augustine, Beethoven -- and True Father. We, as Unificationists, need to be doing exactly this in a much more "focused" fashion; especially in America. I could go on and on as to why this hasnít happened to the degree it should have, but the focus needs to be the here and now.
America, as a Christian country, has a love affair with culture, much the same way the European Christian societies did. Yet in our movement, we have not prioritized this, which for a movement that is essentially a progeny of Christianity is to our distinct disadvantage. In his book, Rick Warren asserts that, "music, not baseball, is Americaís national pastime."
It seems apparent that we must be more fully engaged in this.
By not utilizing and supporting a more concerted effort in the arts in America, we are fighting an uphill battle to transform the "fallen" culture with heavenís culture. A case can be made that entertainers and artists are equally, if not more powerful than clergy or politicians in shaping values and attitudes in our society.
Getting back to the truth/beauty / goodness paradigm: by fighting the fight for God with only truth (theology / conferences) and goodness (service) and without beauty (music / art / culture) being seriously in the equation, it will be difficult to inspire the 2nd Generation in the witnessing process and attain our goals.
George Kasakos, Joe Leonard, Diego Costa, myself, and others are deeply committed to assist in this effort. Itís our passion.