Unification News for March 2002
Chang Shik Yang
March 23, 2002
This is the welcome address to the ACLC convocation held March 23 in Rye, NY.
I am happy to see so many familiar faces here today. It is more inspiring, though, to see how many pastors have joined us today. I truly appreciate all of you who interrupted your busy schedules, and the extra effort you made to be here with us today. The mission of the clergy is more crucial now than ever before. Ever since the tragedy of 9-11, with the fighting still in progress and with terror at our doorstep, the entire world is filled with resentment, fear and conflict. Conflicts among religions and races are becoming worse. Every day we read of families killed, children orphaned, while those who fight continue to seek "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth."
As prophets, the clergy must lead this nation and the world back to God. We must be fearless to speak Godís word, and we must become the examples for people to follow. But in this time of crisis, the number of souls we convert inside our churches, or how well we fill the collection plate is not the measure of our success. We must go beyond the walls of our own denomination, and join together with the kind of unity that the world has been unable to find. The success of the Baptists, or Catholics, or Unificationists by themselves will never save this nation. We must stand together like never before in our nationís history. This is the mission of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, to tear down the walls of race and denomination. No other clergy organization is designed as we are. No other movement is able to gather so many from every race, creed and nationality. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the vision and leadership of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, together with you clergy, made such a movement possible. But what exactly is our mission?" Now that we have come together like this, what is God asking us to do?
The motto of the ACLC is "Rebuild the Family, Restore the Community, Renew the Nation and World. Let us consider briefly what this means:
Rebuild the Family
The family is, quite simply, the first institution created by God. In Genesis Chapter 5, we read that God made them male and female, and called them together "man," in His image and likeness. God said, "It is not fitting for man to be alone." And the helpmate He made for Adam was so close to him, for she was "flesh of his flesh," and bone of his bones." If Adam and Eve had obeyed Godís word, they would have remained in the garden, and would have fulfilled the blessings that God had prepared for them, to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over every living thing."
The fall of our first ancestors was much more than simply individual disobedience. The fall destroyed the family ideal. When Adam and Eve lost God they blamed each other, and their children destroyed each other. They were cast from the garden, and the family that was once blessed to "be fruitful, and multiply," was now a family cursed. Eveís pain in bearing children would be greatly multiplied, God told her. God told Adam he would sweat and struggle as the breadwinner of the family. God was no longer present in the first human family, and the vessel through which God was to pour His love into human life was now broken.
When we look back upon our history, we can see that civilizations rise and fall based upon the strength of family and morality. The family is where we are meant to learn lifeís most important lesson: to live for the sake of others. As we enter the last days of fallen human history, we are reaping the bitter harvest of the fall of the family: adultery, divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, homosexuality, pornography, the global trafficking of women and children as sexual slaves, sexual abuse of children, and countless forms of immorality. The family is in crisis. As a result, the fabric of our communities has been torn. The building block of our society has been broken. The cornerstone of a peaceful world has been shattered.
But the problem goes deeper than that. The fall brought enmity between the womanís seed and that of the serpent. The true seed, the lineage of God, was defiled. Jesus taught in John 8:44, "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your fatherís desires." This is the real meaning of the original sin that we continue to pass on to our children: we are born of the false lineage of Satan. Even for the most devout and faithful Christians, our children are still born with original sin. It was not until the conception of Jesus, the sinless Son of God, that his mother Mary was told, "Blessed is the fruit of your womb." And it is only by inheriting the flesh and blood of the sinless Christ, a pure lineage, that we can be born anew, and enter the Kingdom of God."
Then how do we rebuild the family? We need more than social programs and community service. We need to purify the lineage of humankind, and restore true love in God-centered families. This is the simple yet profound meaning of the Blessing of marriage being given by Father and Mother Moon. Even for those of us who have experienced the salvation of our souls through our relationship with the Lord, as St. Paul said, "Öthe law of sinÖ dwells in my members (flesh)" (Romans 7:23). Though we proclaim we are "sanctified," we still pass sin on to the children born from our bodies. The most devout men and women of faith still suffer the temptation of false love. Though we have experienced individual salvation, our family life continues to be mired in sin.
Father and Mother Moon have been anointed by Jesus to sanctify families. This is the purpose of the Blessing of marriage. Just as communion signifies that we are inheriting the flesh and blood of the sinless son of God, in the Blessing we take communion as a couple, to cleanse and renew our lineage. This is the ultimate meaning and mission of True Parents. Not only are we fortunate at this moment in history to be able to receive such a Blessing, but also Father and Mother Moon want to bequeath this special anointing to all the upright members of the clergy. We are the instruments, the vehicles, to stand as True Parents to convey Godís Blessing to our congregations, our communities, and to all humanity. To achieve this, we are working to raise 144,000 clergy couples to mediate this Blessing to the world.
The Blessing has transformed the lives, the families, and the ministries of so many pastors already. You will meet those who found the power to overcome divorce, adultery, and countless other challenges, and who have found renewed vision and strength by offering their marriage to God. Please pray seriously about these things, for with this movement of family renewal through the Blessing of marriage, the ACLC can transform this nation.
Restore the Community
Building God-centered, Blessed Families is the initial key to restoring the community. Children raised in their parentsí love will be happy with who they are. Children who learn to harmonize and cooperate in their families will be productive members of society. Children who grow in love will not learn to hate. As we work to restore community life in America, the ACLC can do more than any other group to tear down the walls between races and denominations. We are standing together from all backgrounds and beliefs, and instead of talking about unity we are trying to live it right now. Rolling up our sleeves and working together is a far more powerful way to achieve unity than interfaith dialogues.
When 144, 000 clergy couples from all creeds, cultures and nationalities come together on April 27th proclaiming "Stand for Family and Save the Nation," we will move this country. Imagine how the spirit of God can touch this nation in such a holy moment. But to arrive there we have lots of work to do. Let us then be crystal clear: our faith calls us to care for the least and the lost, but though we feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and care for the needy, we will only end hunger, homelessness and poverty when we change the hearts and minds of the people.
Renew the Nation and World
This, then, is our ultimate mission: to renew America by renewing the hearts of its people. And that begins here and now, with you and I. As the Scripture teaches: "Let us not be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of our minds." We are here together to renew our minds, refocus our vision, and be transformed into a unified body of faith. Father and Mother Moon have made it clear: we, the clergy, must be as the prophets of old and speak to the conscience and spirit of the nation. Do not underestimate the power of a united faith community to move the nation. No other clergy association is as broad, or interracial, or genuinely interdenominational, as the ACLC.
The message and mission of ACLC for America has been clear from the beginning. When the nation was bitterly divided over the 2000 presidential election, we stood together at the Supreme Court, beyond politics, to remind our leaders that God is the foundation of our freedom and democracy, and that when our legal and political systems fall short, we need the guidance of Heaven. We proclaimed "Forgive, Love, Unite!" to a wounded nation. When the tragedy of 9-11 struck this nation, the ACLC was there, ministering to the victims and heroes at ground zero. Within 10 days, we gathered 1200 ACLC clergy from across the nation in New York, just minutes from where the World Trade Center had fallen. There were many moving memorial services for the victims of this tragedy. But no one else could call together so many clergy from such a diversity of faiths, to lead our nation in healing and reconciliation.
But today, we look forward to our most urgent task, to "Stand for Family to Save the Nation." I want you to repeat after me: "Stand for FamilyÖ Save the Nation." Last year, during the historic 52-city ACLC tour, Father Moon told us that we must cry out from our pulpits about true love, no divorce, and no adultery. More than that, he said, we must be the example of God-centered families to our congregation and community. Our spouse has the key to our sexual organ, he taught us. "No spare keys!" he warned us. Pastor Barrett responded, and after 10 years of separation and divorce, his lovely wife Cleo has returned to his side. Moreover, 22 other couples in his church were healed and restored through the Barrettsí testimony and ministry!
Archbishop Stallings took Father Moon seriously, and after a lifetime as a priest, he is blessed in marriage. He and his lovely wife, Sayomi, are expecting their first child just at about the time of the upcoming Blessing. He travels throughout the country, throughout the world, proclaiming the message of the ACLC: "Rebuild the Family, Restore the Community, Renew the Nation and World." Many others were healed and blessed through the 52-city tour last year. Now we must expand this movement of family healing and Blessing to the nation. When 144,000 clergy couples stand together on April 27th, Godís people, called by His name, I am sure that God will hear from Heaven, and He will heal our land.
God has the power to end divorce! God has the power to rebuild our families! God has the power to restore our communities! God has the power to renew our nation and our world! "If My people, who are called by My name, humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
God Bless you, God Bless your family and your church, and may God Bless America. Thank you very much.
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