The Words of the Pople Family
Waking up the Original, True Woman in Each of Us
Joy Schmidt Pople
"We can give birth, as mothers, for the whole world," Mrs. Reiko Jenkins said, as she welcomed women clergy and wives of clergymen to the United Federation of Churches building on 16th Street, a few miles directly north of the White House. Rev. Vanessa Owens, who had gotten up early that morning for the five-hour drive from central Pennsylvania, led praise songs, beginning with a rousing "This is the day that the Lord hath made."
Rev. Susan Fefferman had opened her eyes one morning to a vision of women as flowers, each with a unique beauty and fragrance, in the garden of the Holy Spirit. On October 14, 2004, her vision became a reality as women from as far away as Arizona and Texas assembled in Washington, DC, for a day-long gathering of "Women in Ministry."
Many of the women had attended the Divine Principle Convocation in Ocean City, Maryland, last March, where women streamed into a meeting to talk about organizing a women's auxiliary to the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) and stayed on to pray for God's anointing on their husbands, their churches, their children, their nation, and beyond. The more hours they prayed, the more palpable the anointing became on all in the room. Dr. Chang Shik Yang, Chairman of ACLC was very encouraged by the sincere leadership that the women clergy and wives of pastors were taking.
There had been follow-up meetings with small groups in Washington, DC, but no further national gathering. Mrs. Jenkins and Mrs. Claire Daugherty had planned this first Women in Ministry convocation just three days earlier, along with Minister Ethel Hayes from Houston, Texas, and Rev. Tanya Edwards from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Invitations went out by email and word-of-mouth. By 10:00 am on a brilliant autumn day, a dozen women were drinking coffee and introducing themselves to each other. Within an hour, the number had tripled, and hardly anybody looked outdoors for the rest of the day.
ACLC Executive Director, Rev. Levy Daugherty, had taken the opportunity to call some of the husbands to a parallel meeting of the Executive Board. Bishop C. Phillip Johnson Co Chairman of the ACLC of the Washington Region, was invited inside the auditorium to address the women. "We men understand that it is time for women to come together to bring about the ultimate reality God envisioned at the beginning," the tall gentleman began, invoking the prophets of old. "When people try to deter you from this mission, be like Nehemiah and say, 'We are doing a great work, and we will not come down off these walls.'" "Amen," responded the women, including Bishop Johnson's gracious wife, Sennie, and it seemed like church was about to happen.
ACLC Executive Committee member Bishop Floyd Nelson of the famous Bibleway Worldwide Ministries also gave encouragement as to the essential role the women play in God's work. He testified that he and his wive Yvonne minister together and were attracted to ACLC because it focuses on the family. Minister Lydia Phelan came all the way from Arizona. Lydia is particularly gifted by the Holy Spirit with discernment, wisdom and spiritual understanding. "This meeting was ordained by God," she confirmed.
"It was birthed in God's mind a long time ago for women to complement men," Rev. Ethel Hayes said in introducing the purpose and vision of Women in Ministry. "We are to complement our spouse -- not necessarily to announce, 'I'm a woman; hear me roar.'" The audience chuckled. Maybe her words struck a bit close to home. She quoted Ephesians 4:13-16, where St. Paul begins by admonishing people to "speak the truth in love" and concludes with the vision of the body of Christ edifying itself in love. The following Sunday, Mrs. Hayes was scheduled to be ordained by her husband, Rev. Bennit Hayes, pastor of Gloryland Baptist Church in Houston, to the ministry. If she had been auditioning as a preacher, she did her husband proud.
Mrs. Pat Brown, wife of ACLC leader Rev. Ron Brown of Washington contributed greatly with a spirit of encouragement for husbands and wives to work as a team. Rev. Tanya Edwards offered a spirited prayer in the Pentecostal style so beloved by her husband, Rev. Jesse Edwards.
Rev. Fefferman recalled the women's pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine this past May, in which many of the women present had participated. "We felt God was calling the original true woman in each of us to wake up," she said. "We have to be unwavering in our heart that loves God." Mrs. Daugherty then described women as being designed by God to give birth. "We gave our blood!" the mother of five exclaimed. "We stood at the door of death to give birth. This is the training through which God prepared us." She reviewed the Biblical women who understood the promptings of the Holy Spirit and risked their lives to advance the lineage of the Messiah.
An ACLC-type gathering would not be complete without a PowerPoint presentation, and Rev. Annmarie Weinmann, leader of the CARP Student Center at the University of Maryland campus, introduced the Divine Principle Institute's charts for the Fall of Man lecture. It's important for women to understand the ideal in God's heart for the first human ancestors, and in particular how humankind's lineage became stained through the actions of mother Eve. There was a special focus on the reasons why God did not intervene in the course of the fall.
Discussion continued over lunch in the adjacent conference room. Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, Jr., joined his wife Sayomi for lunch, and their sons Shin Young and Young Pal went from lap to lap around the room. As is typical, he found imagery and cadence appropriate for the occasion when he was invited to speak: "We look at the women who came through the corridors of history, and you are the continuation of women carrying forth the message of redemption, healing and peace," he said. "You are part of the mosaic that must be set into place for the divine picture to be revealed."
Rev. Jenkins and Rev. Daugherty stopped in to offer words of greetings. Rev. Jenkins paid tribute to Mother Moon's leadership while Rev. Sun Myung Moon was seriously ill in the spring of 2003. "Mother never wavered," he testified. "True Father had prepared her by sending her on numerous speaking tours throughout the world, sometimes facing great risks. Because of that she got the spirit of God moving in a central way. After March 23, when True Parents received the crown as King and Queen of Peace, the way is now opened for us all to be true parents. Especially on March 24th, Father Moon commissioned the women to take a central role with the support of their husbands."
Rev. Tessie Willis from Dallas, Texas, took the microphone to emcee a time of testimonies and sharing. She started out by describing her own motivation in working with teens: "When I look at a girl age 12, I don't want her to make the same mistakes I did." She compared ACLC's deep teachings on the family to her daily task of giving nourishment to her husband and children. "While other groups may clean only the outside of the fish before cooking it, through ACLC we are learning to clean the inside," she said.
Rev. Owens came forward when Rev. Willis invited up anyone who had something to share from her heart. Rev. Jenkins got up to leave for his next meeting, but Rev. Owens put out her hand and said to the man who often orchestrates gatherings: "Oh no, you're not leaving yet." He eased back down into his chair. Nobody could guess what was coming next.
From a large black plastic bag, Rev. Owens pulled out a picture frame, turned it around and read a plaque with artwork and words adapted from the tribute to a blessed wife from Proverbs 31. It was personalized for Claire Daugherty. As she invited up Mrs. Daugherty for the presentation, somebody called her husband in from his office across the hall. Rev. Jenkins snapped a photo of them holding the plaque and announced, "Behind every good woman there is a man!" Rev. Daugherty embraced his wife, who could only murmur, "For once in my life I don't have anything to say."
"I don't choose to associate with women who aren't going anywhere," Rev. Owens said as she pulled out a larger picture frame. The second woman to be honored was Mrs. Jenkins. Her husband beamed as the tribute was read: "To someone special, Reiko: may your heart be filled with all that brings you love." As he stood beside his wife for a photo, he kissed her on the crown of her head.
All eyes focused on Rev. Owens as she pulled out her third and final frame. It was a tribute to a woman she had never met but had learned to love through the repeated praise of her husband, Rev. James Stewart, who makes travel arrangements for ACLC events. Rev. Stewart wasn't present, but his wife Tillie was. Shyly she came forward to receive her tribute that read, in part: "Celebrating you today and hoping you remember that God celebrates you every day."
It was a Holy-Spirit type of day, and as Rev. Daugherty spoke to the women after lunch, the women tasted a bit of the holiness and wholeness that God had envisioned from the portals of time. "When you chant 'Hallelujah,' you create healing in a broken soul," Rev. Daugherty announced. "God created us whole, and the human body has within itself all the mechanisms for healing itself. The Holy Spirit is the feminine side of God - the birth canal for healing. Without the feminine side of God there can be no rebirth or healing." Rev. Daugherty referred to Michelangelo's painting of the creation, in which God is portrayed with a feminine figure nestled in His left arm. "The wholeness of God is in creating from the feminine side of God," he added.
Rev. Daugherty expounded on the questions God posed to humankind after they fell. It was as if God was walked up and down the room, looking at each person in the eye and asking: "Where are you?" When Adam hid, God was separated from His temple; God became not-whole. God further asked, "Who told you that you were naked?" Being naked means sin is exposed. How can a person hide from God? Again, God exclaimed, "What is this that you have done?" The God who did not create sin asked what on earth happened to His children.
"Traumatized people create traumatized families," Rev. Daugherty summed up. "It was a woman who led the man to fall, and women will lead the way back to God and back to wholeness."
The program continued with a video prepared for Mrs. Moon's speaking tour. A few women from the Washington area spoke. Dr. Yvonne Nelson had just returned from visiting churches in Uganda with her husband, Bishop Nelson. Dr. Margie de la Rosa from New York described seeing a vision of a giant archangel with a trumpet, bringing spiritual power to each woman. Tribute was given to Minister Angelika Selle and Rev. Debbie Taylor, who have been advancing the cause of Women in Ministry but were unable to attend that day. Mrs. Fefferman closed by describing the mission of a sister organization, the Women's Federation for World Peace.
Those with no pressing engagements that evening stayed on for dinner and fellowship. The women envision an ongoing network for staying in touch with each other, mobilizing the power of prayer, and supporting the growing mission of the ACLC.
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