The Words of the Newman Family

Witnessing in New York

Barbara Newman
March 1970

When we think of the way one should witness to Our Leader, to the coming of Christ, we realize that each one has a different perception of what that means. To those of us with a Christian heritage, it is the fulfillment of the great promise Jesus brought. To those from non-Christian backgrounds, it means the fulfillment of our highest ideals and aspirations, made possible by a new teacher of higher universal truth.

New York is a city with such a vast variety of ethnic backgrounds and social and religious orientations that witnessing here must encompass an understanding of the aspirations of many different cultures and cultures within cultures. If any city in the world could be compared to the Ark, it is New York; there must be at least two of every living thing here!

We in the New York center are beginning to mirror the city. If our own foundation in Principle is strong, then we will be able to relate to many types of people and bring them all together around the Family. We are trying every way we can think of. After all, this center must take up where the United Nations leaves off! Some of us have been working with the Christian Churches. Wesley Samuel and I have been working with a black Methodist Church and singing in the choir, which is larger than the congregation. Betsy and Dennis have been working with a Catholic church. Working over a relatively long period of time requires a more subtle witness, because we must show with Principle what the message of Principle is. One of our most spontaneous and visionary witnessing experiments was held at Riverside Church, where we held and informal panel for a young adults group.

We focused more on our Family life rather than stressing the religious significance of the guiding philosophy. Father's presence was so evident in the fluid and easy give-and-take between Nannette, Wesley, Barbara, Betsy, and Dennis, which was as smooth and syncopated as a summer's game of tennis. The spectators felt the sunny warmth and vitality. We had some very interesting responses, from invitations to speaking engagements to a lady called asking for specific qualifications for joining the Family. As was mentioned, our approach was quite causal! Sometimes, of course, we are a little more direct, in fact, downright spectacular. One afternoon we sold books on Fifth Avenue in a flurry of cookies and song.

Wesley and Hal McKenzie were huge sings painted in colorful Gothic lettering which denoted their role as the Physical Man and the Spirit Man. We sang a song written to emphasize complementary relationship of the Divine Principle with physical happiness, which the cookies symbolized. "One for the body", we sang, "and one for the soul; if ye buy my wares, we shall be whole." We ended up street preaching in front of the Plush Plaza Hotel. Another afternoon, we held a celebration in Central Park, in which everybody was invited to share brotherhood in any way they wished to express it. Some painted on a large canvas that we provided, some brought musical instruments, some brought games, and some just brought themselves. Most of them didn't understand what was going on, but felt the spirit, and wanted to know our motivation. So, ever willing, we taught Principle under the trees.

We've been hatching a few new ideas for the coming months that will hopefully make our contacts broader and our arms wide. We are planning one social cultural event a month, and are calling the meeting Kononia. A few of us have been nurturing the idea of holding an arts seminar in the park, to perform and discuss spontaneously the Essence of all art. We may even try sitting under a tree and reading Principle together in a very loud voice. We are very happy about the red and white buttons of the Unification symbol that we have had printed. They attract a great deal of interest, which gives us a perfect opportunity to witness. The idea is being wired with many other centers across the United States.

This brings us back to the beginning -- our own witness. In our own personal give and take people must see the realness of Father; we must treat each person with the special love and concern with which Father treats us. The only thing that keeps this whole city from being the Unified Family is us. We must cut through the loneliness, and that is unheard of in this city, where there are so many strings attached to a hello in the subway, New Yorkers are very open and responsive to a spontaneous, genuine and unafraid invitation to goodwill. It is so good to see the sun break through cloudy faces. And we carry the sun. 

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