The Words of the Toccacieli Family
Based on online videos, in the days when services were still being held in the Mapo borough of Seoul, our church in Rome Italy adopted the Sunday service structure created by Hyung Jin nim. Here is Rome church leader Franco Toccacieli's detailed explanation of how this ministry has developed.
For the past eighteen months, we have been conducting our Sunday services according to the model created by Hyung Jin nim. When we started, we purchased the videos of Hyung Jin nim's services from Peace TV in Korea. We translated everything -- from beginning to end -- into Italian. On Sunday, we projected the video onto a screen. My wife Sholeh and I stood to the side read the translation over the top of the prayers and sermon Hyung Jin nim was delivering in English (we had the volume of the English down low). Our congregation was happy with the new style of service.
After a while, however, members of the community felt a desire to play more of a direct role in the service. Gradually, we changed things, one at a time. We even began giving the sermon ourselves, but the sermon is still based on Hyung Jin nim's message.
Nowadays, I prepare the complete service schedule with computer software that allows me to project text onto the screen (for example, a quote from Cheon Seong Gyeong, the Family Pledge, or song lyrics) and to add background music. The software we use for this, Easislides [www.easislides.com}, is available free of charge from a Christian software developer. It is very similar in format to what is used in the English-language service in Korea, and very easy to use. Using this system, we lead the congregation to participate actively in the service, which my wife and I conduct as a couple.
Here is the order of the service and how we conduct it; as you will see, many aspects are similar to the service Hyung Jin nim and Yeon-ah nim guide in Seoul.
First, Sunday service theme (the title of the sermon) appears on the screen while music plays in background.
The pastor and his wife warmly welcome the congregation.
We sing the first song, with the music being played automatically through the sound system, and the lyrics display on-screen. Some of the songs are the same as those sung by the Two Rivers Choir, but in Italian. We also use other similar songs, which I found on an evangelical web site. (Sometimes they are just the music, sometimes voice is included.)
We project one sentence from Cheon Seong Gyeong, while music plays. One or two words of the sentence are projected in Korean (Hangul), and we practice pronouncing them two or three times so that the members of the congregation -- especially those from the second generation -- can gain familiarity with True Parents' language. After that, I offer brief insights into the meaning of the passage.
I invite Sholeh to share a thought with the audience, or an experience with God. After that, she guides the reading of one point of the Family Pledge and its meaning. We project this on the screen with musical background and the congregation stands to recite it.
I invite everyone to join in meditation, with meditation background music, downloaded from the www.tworiversvip.com. I guide the meditation and visualization, standing and then sitting, as in Hyung Jin nim's service.
We sing another song. (The whole congregation sings most of the songs but a second-generation group alone sometimes sings one or two.)
A member of the second generation comes onstage and offers a prayer, reads something from True Father, or offers an inspirational thought (that he or she has prepared during the week). This section of the service is developing very well.
We invite the congregation to pray for a friend, or relative, or for those in the spirit world (we always remember the brothers and sisters from our church community in Rome who have passed away) and then I encourage everyone to exchange greetings and best wishes.
We sing another song.
I share an interesting story (a joke or anecdote).
We all recite the True Parents Declaration in unison. We project the title of the sermon with a nice slide (a different picture from the one shown at the beginning of the service). The sermon usually lasts twenty to thirty minutes. Sometimes we project some slides to accompany the content. I usually use content from one of Hyung Jin nim's sermons, which I have translated into Italian. To this, I add content relevant to our situation here in Rome.
The congregation participates in a final meditation and visualization accompanied by music, which I also guide.
I offer a final prayer.
We sing a final Holy Song, usually "Blessing of Glory" One blessed couple, who is asked in advance, offers a prayer of gratitude based on the content of the service.
I feel our Sunday service has become like a miniature community festival, thanks to moments during the service that help us develop and to experience our unity, thanks to the content that evokes optimism and the true value of each person, and thanks to the way we recall how God and True Parents participate in our lives and wish the best for us.
Older members of our second generation -- who previously would either not attend Sunday service, or would leave the service before the end -- now attend fully. High school students attend the entire service, and younger students attend twice a month up until the True Parents Declaration.
After the service, the participants are invited for refreshments, prepared by a blessed couple. This is the time when we can talk with our guests and receive their impressions on all aspects of the service. Guests attending this kind of service can comprehend -- in a more natural way -- the essential character of our tradition. They can also perceive the love and respect that we feel toward True Parents.
When new guests come, they usually enjoy the service. Catholics usually like the meditation and visualization, for example. Our service is a transparent witness to our True Parents, and new guests seem to embrace that well.
A few weeks ago, one of our Sunday service guests, an opera theater director, sent me the following reflection:
I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the way you are conducting the day of Sunday [Service]. You are infusing optimism, inspiring confidence and comprehension by taking ideas from original texts and interpreting their significance
At a recent service, Mr. Pompini said he really likes our service because he receives positive energy that affords him relief from stress.
We also have introductory Divine Principle lectures in the afternoon, and some people come just for those presentations if they cannot come for the service in the morning.
A group of families have now begun to meet once a week to witness in the area near by our church center. The same group decided to dedicate one day a month to raise funds to support our public activities and the providential offerings. This is a natural result of the renewal and spiritual rebirth brought by this new type of Sunday service.
Certainly there is still a need to invest more and much to do to maintain the constant involvement of our families and of those in the second generation in preparing the Sunday services and in contributing to the growth of our community, but we feel that with God's help and True Parents help always with us, we will surely be able to succeed.