172 Clergy Reunion: ‘This is an active mission’
It’s been nearly a decade since most of the 172 clergy group last saw each other. Familiar faces and smiles light up a room filled with laughter and infectious energy. They fondly reminisce, sharing stories from a fateful trip that brought them all together in September 2011. They have convened at ‘172 United Forever’—a special reunion of American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) members, who spent several days visiting the late Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, co-founder of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), in South Korea eight years ago.
“We need commitment moving forward,” said Regional Chairman for Family Federation North America Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, who organized the three-day reunion program at the Las Vegas Conference Center from September 23 to 25. The reunion was a call for commitment to unite and share God’s Word across the nation. “The clergy can change the world,” said Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Chairman Dr. Michael Jenkins as he addressed the lively group.
In 2011, Rev. Moon invited 172 religious leaders to visit him at his home in Korea. It’s a memory as vivid as yesterday for many clergy members at the reunion. “I remember everything, it was that impactful,” said Rev. Dr. Willie L. Weston, pastor of Hope Evangelistic Ministries International located in Chicago. He was part of a group of 12 people who also accompanied Rev. Moon on a weeklong boat trip during that time. They spent long hours fishing as Rev. Moon spoke of God’s ideal and hope for humankind. “His speech was so passionate that anyone knew that his love for the Christians was genuine,” said Rev. Weston. “I just thought that was a blessing and could feel the spirit of God,” added pastor Beverly Thompson, from Omaha, Nebraska, as she recalled her experience with Rev. Moon.
The reunion emphasized the mission of the 172 ACLC members as a driving force in Christianity, while aiming to rebuild connections and ignite new inspiration. “This organization is not built on denominational preferences but on what is the Will of God,” said Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, Jr., ACLC national co-chairman emeritus and founder of the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregations (AACC), an autonomous African-centered Catholic Church. “A true leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. There has to be leadership that is a caliber that can change this world.”
Rev. Moon sought to unite Christianity, the world, and bring people closer to God. His spiritual encounter with Jesus Christ at age 16 left a profound imprint on him, as he shared revelations with those he met throughout his life, including the 172 clergy. “The family is the school of love; that is one of the most powerful things I ever heard him say,” said Bishop Petra Kidwell. Rev. Moon set a foundation for the clergy to build upon, and encouraged them to work together to bring about God’s providence. “Rev. Moon was more than a man and more than his lectures; he strived to be Jesus, and we must strive to be Jesus,” said ACLC member Dr. Gilda Price.
Now, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, affectionately referred to as True Mother, is continuing the legacy of her late husband Rev. Moon by initiating a World Clergy Leadership Conference (WCLC) in New Jersey on December 28. “When we look at what is happening around the world, there’s an urgency,” said ACLC National Co-Chairman Dr. Luonne Rouse. “You have a special, unique road, so I’m asking you to come back with ownership and consistency, so we can have a cooperative of peace in the world.” Dr. Rouse challenged the clergy group, asking for at least 100 of them to bring 25 different church representatives to the WCLC. He shared his desire to see 2,500 churches within the ACLC network attend the year-end event.
“Whether we are called or chosen, we must still surrender to God and act,” said FFWPU USA President Rev. Demian Dunkley. “This is an active mission, not something we receive for our own sake. It’s incredible that True Mother is showing us and leading.” Determined to make a difference in their communities, and across the nation, members of the 172 clergy group declared their commitment to supporting Dr. Moon and bringing success. About 30,000 clergy from around the country are anticipated to be at the WCLC.