The Words of the Moffitt Family
Hyun-jin nim looked out over the crowd, sitting in rapt attention, "To my father, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon," he said, "the dream of building one family under God is not just the dream of one man, one woman or one family; it is the dream of all humanity and, most of all, the dream of God." The applause that erupted was spontaneous and genuine.
What is especially significant is that he was addressing an audience of devoted Christians in the spacious two-thousand-six-hundred-seat sanctuary of suburban Atlanta's Church In The Now. The central message of the Global Peace Festival -- that everyone in the world is a brother or sister under the parenthood of God-is gaining traction among those Christians who are on the leading edge of where their faith is going.
A relative handful of Christian ministers truly own the idea of the enormity of God's heart, embracing all Jews, Christians and Muslims. "God so loved the world..." they emphasize. Not surprising is that these ministers are also leaders of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the world, the so-called "megachurches," with active congregations of three thousand to twenty-five thousand members and often with nationwide television audiences in the U.S. and other countries. Most are reaching out only across other Christian denominations, but a growing number understand to the core of their being about God loving the world and all its faith traditions. And they are acting on it.
Bishop Jim Swilley and co-pastor Debye Swilley, the husband and wife pastorate of Church.
In The Now, are inspired by the Global Peace Festival's vision of people of faith working together to heal the deep divisions that have made religions enemies instead of brothers. It is an idea that echoes long-held tenants of their own life of faith. So they opened their church to Hyun-jin nim and the Global Peace Festival.
One of the more moving moments in the event occurred when two mothers from Washington DC came onstage. Michelle Postell's son, who was in a gang, killed the son of Marita Michael Lee.
Both had lost their sons. Both had gone through despair. Michell is a Christian and Marita is a Muslim. Before the two women met in the courtroom, both had been praying, asking God to show them a way out of their unappeasable grief. In the courtroom, on opposing sides, the hand of God moved and the two women found themselves embracing, weeping.
Reverend Michael Jenkins, chairman of UPF-USA, said, "Their testimony was so moving because their presence and heart was so humble and real but also because their realistic emerging from such darkness came from their prayers to God, one as a Muslim, one as a Christian. Through that, they gained strength not only to forgive and love each other but also to forgive themselves and bring healing to all of their relatives and to bring healing to the larger community."
In the presence of such sincerity, the men and women in the congregation were brought to tears.
People also appeared deeply moved by the interfaith "water ceremony" moderated by Rev. Jenkins. A dozen representatives of the world's faith traditions gathered onstage, each holding a bowl of water symbolizing their faith's unique spiritual contribution to the world. One after another, each poured their bowl of water into a common bowl, thus giving back, to God and the world, the treasures and gifts of spirit that had originally come from one God.
As people watched Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists add their water to the bowl, demonstrating visually the one family of God, a profound spirit of unity moved through the room. One participant reported, "Tears started flowing. This is a new day!" From this symbolic ceremony, another person gained the insight that "living water lives in each one of us" and that now is the time on earth to let that living water flow.
"To have people from all of those nations in our house is what this is all about," commented one member of the Church In The Now. "The Holy Spirit filled the house and fed our souls on all levels. I am so honored and blessed to have a bishop with the global vision to lead us on this journey."
Co-pastor Debye Swilley has said the Global Peace Festival is the most important movement for peace in our time. The reason people feel this way is because we are living in a time when forces of evil are trying to manipulate a clash of civilizations that is essentially a war of religions. The Global Peace Festival is the most affirmative movement today that directly addresses the essential need for people of faith to see themselves as members of one family under God.
Another very important aspect of the Global Peace Festivals, as they are being put together in cities all over the world, is that this is a cooperative effort among partners. The vision is already in place. Jesus came with the mission of creating one family under God. In this age, True Parents have been asked by God to continue this work. And although the path has been too long and too lonely, many people from all parts of the world are beginning to make this vision their own.
Rev. Jenkins reported some amazing realizations that took place behind the scenes, among the various Peace Festival partners as everyone worked together to prepare for the Atlanta event. He said that GPF-Atlanta steering committee member, attorney Sheila Arnum, broke down in tears at a planning meeting when she recalled her experience on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol (at the August 9 Global Peace Festival in Washington D.C.). "Every race, every faith, and every community was represented," she said. "I experienced for the first time in my life the real America."
Rev. Jenkins reported that Bishop Swilley said it moved him deeply to realize that the One Family Under God movement is a movement for this age. Bishop Swilley told him, "It goes beyond the barriers and the traditions of the past, while being fundamentally rooted in the most unchangeable element of life-that is, God's presence, love, and being."
At the event's finale, when the speakers and performers had been called back to the stage to sing "One Family Under God," the now familiar anthem written last year by a songwriter in the Philippines, people expressed that they truly felt the powerful presence of God.
For one person, this special evening in Atlanta brought back distant memories as a six-year-old singing about the family of God: "Somehow my child's mind saw a vision then similar to what was seen by many last night."
Another person said, "A decaying dream of peace has been resurrected by the spirit of the living God and manifested in the spirit of all who shared in the Global Peace Festival this evening. I have seen the kingdom of God. For this I was born."
Everyone connected with the outreach to Christianity and the Global Peace Festival is feeling that somehow a corner has been turned, and God is harvesting the prepared hearts of His children.