Unification News for July 2002

Blessing Los Angeles

by BillieAnn Sabo
West Block Coordinator

The Blessing Ceremony held July 3 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles was truly amazing. We had asked our registered couples to come between 8:30 and 9:00am. Our staff was asked to come at 7:30am -- one hour earlier. A few of us, including myself, were there at 7:00am. But by 7:15am, blessing couples started to arrive!! They were there ahead of most of the staff!

On April 27th, when we began our entrance of the blessing couples, only a few were lined up and ready to begin. Many came late! But this time, almost all of them were there by 7:30am, one hour earlier than they were asked to come, registered, veils, gloves & wedding flowers in place and lined up!!! They truly were excited about this blessing! We had 89 blessing couples, including 3 Heaven & Earth blessings, and 3 matching couples, plus 12 concelebrant clergy couples, 31 observers (clergy whose spouse could not attend) and our own staff members (almost 100). They were dressed in their finest clothes, including white satin gowns on some. Some grooms wore tuxedos. Each bride held a fresh flower wedding bouquet and each groom wore a fresh flower red carnation.

Part One was the Prelude to the Blessing. It began at 9:30am. Our M.C. was Dr. Kene Holliday, Actor/Director and also Evangelist with the "I've Been Chosen Ministries". Our event was at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel - LAX in their grand ballroom. The ball- room was set for 300 theater style seating for the blessing event and 35 tables (350) for the luncheon banquet. Each table had a beautiful flower centerpiece and the front of the stage was covered in fresh flowers. We hired an outside A/V company and also satellite company. We used two video photographers and one still photographer. The entire ballroom was fully decorated in pink, white and yellow balloons and wedding bells. Each aisle chair had a beautiful decoration.

The brides and grooms entered through a large arch decorated with fresh flowers. The entire entrance aisle was lined with 12 blessed couples, from younger blessing groups, dressed in fresh white holy robes. Each bride and bridegroom were given a blessing shawl as well as our 12 concelebrant clergy couples.

The prelude began with the procession of the concelebrant couples, followed by the blessing couples. The wedding march was played at that time. Following, 15 members of the Sadoc Christian Choir plus their 5-piece band performed. Welcoming remarks were given by our Vice Regional Director and co-convenor of the ACLC of Los Angeles, Rev. Timothy Henning. After that, Ms. Magdalene Millsap, sang the National Anthem. The opening invocation was by Dr. Raymon Harris of the Greater Zion Flower MBC and one of our 12 core ACLC ministers. Dr. Harris and his wife are one of the 60 couples who received the blessing directly from True Parents in May 2001.

Following the invocation, was our second choir, the Mt. Zion Hollywood Choir under the leadership of Mrs. Blinky Williams. When the choir finished, we showed the new 19 minute video "The Power of True Love". This video tape is very inspiring for them to see and they cheered and clapped loudly at the end. As soon as that was finished, Rev. Joe Waller, co-convenor of the ACLC of Los Angeles and Western States ACLC Executive Board Members gave the opening speech leading into the holy wine ceremony for all the couples. Rev. Waller did a fantastic job as the "spiritual cheerleader" and all couples participated.

Following the benediction, we prepared to start the satellite transmission. Blessing couples were deeply moved by the Holy Wine Ceremony and I saw many crying.

Part Two was the Main Blessing Ceremony from Washington DC. Our M.C. for Part 2 was Rev. Timothy Henning, Vice Regional Director and co-convenor ACLC of Los Angeles. We followed the Washington DC schedule completely. Our Los Angeles Regional Director/West Block Director, Rev. & Mrs. Baek Joong Ku were the officiators. At the end of the Washington DC Blessing Ceremony, we switched back to "live" action in Los Angeles. Dr. Jerome Fisher, Pastor, Little Zion MBC (congregation size over 5,000), gave congratulatory remarks followed by our guest speaker, Rev. Dr. E.V. Hill, Pastor, Mt Zion MBC (congregation size over 4,000) and named as 1 or 7 top preachers in America by Time Magazine. Never before have we had such powerful and BIG ministers join in the same program! It was quite amazing. Both men received standing ovations. Immediately following Dr. Hill's speech was a love offering, closing prayer and pictures.

Part Three was the blessing celebration luncheon and Dr. Kene Holliday was once again the MC. The other half of our big ballroom was already set for 350. During part 1 and 2, we used this table area for all our family members to be able to attend. Now it was cleared and our newly rededicated bride and groom couples were seated. We had a wonderful 3 course lunch. The Sadoc Christian Singers sang during the luncheon as well as our own beautiful Japanese Choir. Also, one minister, Rev. Carlos Ramos, Pastor of Monte Horab, offered two songs. He brought his own small church band. Rev. Ramos is one of our 12 core ACLC board members. Our conclusion was the drawing for the two grand prizes - all expense paid 3 day/2 night trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs. We closed in prayer and 3 cheers of Mansei was given by Rev. Baek Joong Ku.

During the entire month of May and June, this mobilization was so difficult. It was like we would take one step for God's side and something would pull us back two steps. Every confirmation was a strong victory because we had to work so hard to get it. The churches were actually very positive this time, but it was difficult to mobilize totally for this because many of our home families who did full time outreach for April 27th, had to return to their jobs. Our missionaries were half the number this time. But throughout it all, we kept our strong determination and never lost the "I Can Do - Never Give Up" spirit. Our Regional Director held many meetings with our home stay families, missionaries, activity families and full time members. This helped greatly to keep us all united, focused and determined. It was too easy to be distracted this time. Satan was trying to keep us from focusing on our mission. We also reduced our Sunday service to just one hour, so members could do full outreach on Sundays.

When True Parents announced this blessing on May 1st, we quickly developed and made our outreach materials. Within just a few days, we had secured the hotel, made our plans and had materials ready for all our members to start using. As our missionaries arrived in Los Angeles, after just a few hours of "orientation" at Pasadena House, they were assigned to live with home stay families. This kept them focused on activity as well as our community members. We developed all outreach materials in English and Spanish and we shared these materials with not only America, but countries around the world. We never wait in Los Angeles - we take immediate action to unite with the direction. Because of our strong leadership here and centered upon Rev. & Mrs. Baek Joong Ku, we are able to create and keep unity and bring victory.

During these two months, our ACLC of Los Angeles really developed. God clearly gave us the vision of who our 12 core ACLC should be and based upon that, we gathered them together and started holding weekly meetings, led by Rev. Joe Waller, our ACLC co-convenor. We shared many ideas, hopes, dreams, visions, but always stayed centered on the July 3rd blessing. 5 out of the 12 ACLC core ministers brought couples to this blessing. Also, through these meetings, we developed our ACLC sponsorship and each one of the core made a financial offering ($500-$250-$100-$50). First time for such a time to happen in Los Angeles!!! We have great hope for ACLC of LA and we will continue holding weekly meetings to grow this foundation and also to bring education to our newly blessed couples.

It was a difficult mobilization, but a victorious one and we really feel like we won for God and True Parents and that today, the 4th of July, is truly God's Independence Day. Community members, full time members and missionaries worked hard and worked together for this result and the victory from Los Angeles, Region 21, we offer gratefully to God and True Parents with strong determination to keep going with an "I Can Do - Never Give Up" spirit. Thank you Heavenly Father! Mansei!!

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