Unification News for January, 1997

The First True Family Festival in New Jersey Dec. 28, 1996

by Francesco Santelli & Christine Libon

A miracle in itself, this Festival was indeed an answer to the prayers of many. Francesco Santelli took a leave of absence from our Clifton NJ U.C. choir several months ago to focus his efforts on minister outreach. Again and again he invited Bishop Horace Williams to the True Family Values conferences in Washington DC. Month after month, however, the response was "I'm so busy this month; but please call me again." In September, after two years' of deepening friendship, Bishop Williams attended the conference bringing guests, and now on Dec. 28 he hosted and participated in the True Family Festival in which five couples were Blessed:

1. Bishop Horace and Mrs. Avada Williams
2. Rev. MacArthur and Mrs. Burchell Caldwell
3. Minister Naeem and Mrs. Victoria Johnson
4. Bishop Ralph and Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson
5. Mr. Juan Carlos and Mrs. Christine Libon

Rev. and Mrs. Caldwell, and Min. Naeem and Victoria Johnson, were two couples who attended the DC conference on True Family Values. Rev. Ralph and Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson are friends of Bishop Williams from Connecticut. Both Bishops Williams and Johnson are members of the Full Gospel Alliance for Holistic Ministry (an alliance of about 15 churches), of which Bishop Williams is president. Bishop Williams is an ICC minister who has been to Korea. He has been a solid rock in his support of the ICC meetings and Francesco Santelli's work with other ministers. His own church in Newark NJ, the Word of God Christian Center, is small but dedicated and spirited. Rev. MacArthur Caldwell is the assistant pastor and Minister Naeem Johnson is music minister.

A Special Coincidence

As I prepared to go to the Christian Center, I thought, "All the people at my blessing will be my elders; how nice it would be to have a guest with whom to celebrate this joyous occasion!" A few minutes later, my doorbell rang! Scout's honor! To my happy surprise, there stood Sandra Carre, a whom I had not seen since she returned to Colombia one and a half years ago. She came to the ceremony and to the three subsequent dinners. She remarked, "All your friends are so nice. This church is different." She has many questions, and she and her father, whom I first met, are now reading Divine Principle.

God is dramatic and artistic, creating this incredible climactic event. Volunteers worked feverishly behind the scenes preparing the main ceremony area, creating bouquets...oh! the many details!

"I shall possess, within the veil, a life of joy and peace." Until now, I was never quite sure which veil. When the Japanese sister in a motherly position brought me the wedding veil and placed it over my head and face, I knew God was giving me this marriage blessing. Suddenly, I was enclosed in a beautiful, bright, quiet and holy place, apart from all else momentarily.

The choir sang, "Tu Es Sacerdos," "One Hand, One Heart" and "Edelweiss". Dr. Tyler Hendricks, who led the preliminary part of the Festival, especially seemed to enjoy these heavenly selections. "Tu Es Sacerdos" is a Latin composition meaning "You are sacred in eternity, according to the order of Melchizedek," and was dedicated to Bishop Williams. "One Hand, One Heart" is from the musical, "West Side Story," and expresses the hope to two lives becoming one, as much a prayer as a song. Probably the most familiar was "Edelweiss" with very appropriate lyrics, as we stood in white, ready to meet God and invite His presence in our vow of conjugal fidelity.

The refreshing light-filled droplets of water were projected through space and arched toward me as the couple before us was blessed. My inner self said, "Splash me! Splash me!" Facing my husband, Rev. Kim directed, "Bow...bow...bow," as we received the Holy Wine.

I stared long at the floral arrangement before me, huge pink lilies, pure white stalks of tall gladiolas, tropical bird-of-paradise, carnations, roses. Though I had seen all these before, never had I felt the beauty of God's creation so intensely as on this day.

Rev. Kim officiated at the ceremony on Saturday, December 28. On Sunday he shared in his testimony how the number 28 is his life fortune number: it is his number on two different ID cards; he was Blessed at 28 years of age; Dec. 28 he officiated at the Blessing ceremony.

One common experience was shared by Mrs. Sabo and myself; looking at Mrs. Kil Hwan Kim's eyes as she stood beside her husband, we saw True Mother's eyes. This feeling was very strong throughout the ceremony.

Bishop Williams' church is a "whole family" church; Burchell Caldwell and Victoria Johnson are the nieces of Mrs. Williams. They are of Jewish and Black heritage. I spoke with their mother as we sat together at dinner (at Rev. Chamblee's restaurant). We conversed extensively, especially on the topic of the many miracles which the Lord is still performing in the present day and age. (Coincidentally, Burchell and Victoria are nine years apart in age, just like my sister and me.) One thing that Momma said rings so true: "Sometimes all you have to do is think on the Lord and He answers your prayers." She was also very curious about the contents of Rev. Kim's prayer in his native Korean language. I was humbly grateful to be in the company of devout Christians; sometimes Momma prays long, starting with the sick and needy.

Christmas, True Family Festival, True God's Day, all within one week, to be remembered year after year. It's almost too glorious to bear. Please read Bible verses Galatians 6:7-10 and 6:1 from Rev. Kim's Dec. 29 sermon.

"Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease"-then we shall truly know how great is this blessing. I want to help these True Family Festivals to continue, by witnessing, perhaps by sewing wedding veils, by singing in the choir, through prayer. I know there are many ways each of us can contribute to the success of future Festivals. Blessed are those who love the Word of God and the Word made flesh. Let's fulfill our responsibility for Blessing '97.

Thanks and recognition to the Committee: Rev. and Mrs. Kil Hwan Kim, True Family Festival chaircouple; Francesco Santelli and Larry Haft, TFF coordinators; Rev. Baldwin, ceremonial preparations; Kathy Sato & Annie Gagne, hospitality; Hatsue Kumagai, decorations; Francesco Santelli & Yasuko Kono, music & choir; Hope Igarashi & Lydia Compton, food & cake; Larry Haft, general affairs; Don Makowski, video. 

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