Holy Day Celebrations Kick Off
Happy True Heavenly Parent’s Day! Around the world, Unificationists celebrated this Holy Day today along with their families and local communities. Several family churches chose Sunday, February 7 to put on a local Holy Day celebration in combination with their Sunday Services. Check out some photos of the festivities shared by the following local areas:
The Honolulu Family Church celebrated the 49th True Heavenly Parent’s Day during the Sunday worship service on February 7 at the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. The offering table was set up in a shelter surrounded by beautiful nature. Rev. Kazuo Takami explained the significance of Heavenly Parent’s Day with three excerpts of True Parents’ words from the Cheon Seong Gyeong and Cham Bumo Gyeong. At the end of the service, a certificate of Tribal Messiah was handed to each family and all the participating families made a new resolution as the “Oahu Tribe” community to work together in their outreach ministry.
Unificationists in Vancouver, Canada, got together on Sunday, February 7 to celebrate the Holy Days. A big and festive event was held for Heavenly Parent’s Day and True Parents’ Birthday. The congregation enjoyed a buffet dinner and watched a video on True Parents’ life achievements, after which several couples, including Unificationists and guests, came to the podium to share testimonies about True Parents. Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, FFWPU North America Continental Chairman, spoke at the event, sharing his heartfelt words about True Parents’ legacy. The night closed with musical entertainment and fellowship.
On Sunday, February 7, the Boston Family Church held a big celebration with 140 people. The Beacon House Band gave a festive performance and Pastor Chris Hempowicz gave a message titled, “Walking Down Two Paths” (see video on facebook.com/UCBoston).
As per annual tradition, Special Recognitions for 2015 were received by Takahiro Hiroi (for Public Service), Kinuyo Edgerly (as Unsung Hero) and Tazuko Sugajima (Youth Ministry Champion). Afterward a bibimbap luncheon was enjoyed by everyone, thanks to Unificationist Bibian Bamfo for her days of labor to prepare the feast, and to her hard working helpers, the Naquines family and Olga Alvarenga. After lunch, a smaller group of people enjoyed two hours of folk dancing in the sanctuary led by Bob Butler.
Then, on the morning of February 8, they had a morning gathering in their church prayer room at 7:00am. This was followed by a tasty traditional Korean Holy Day breakfast, including two homemade celebration cakes prepared by Hildegard Christiansen. A wonderful Holy Day spirit was present throughout their morning together.
The new District Pastor of the Chicago area, Rev. Jeff Schmidt, gave a short message titled, “A Warm Embrace” on Sunday in Chicago. The community then enjoyed a Korean lunch, and a basketball game for the youth. On Monday, a morning service for Heavenly Parent’s Day was observed at the church office.
It was a full house at the Clifton Family Church, where local Unificationists put on a beautiful Sunday Service dedicated to Heavenly Parent’s Day. Pastor Manoj Jacob gave the sermon, and several members of the community offered musical performances.
A packed church attended Heavenly Parent’s Day at the Bay Area Family Church to usher in the year of the monkey. Young and old had a spirit of hope and expectancy for a new year filled with joy and victory. Following pledge service and words by the pastor, young Unificationists hosted entertainment, the highlight of which was a magnificent piano piece by Bach from David Ching. A sumptuous Korean meal was served and a real family atmosphere prevailed.
The Portland Family Peace Fellowship in Oregon celebrated True Heavenly Parent’s Day with beautiful 60-degree weather and sunny skies. Twelve guests joined in as part of a total attendance of 73. They read the wonderful excerpts of True Father’s words provided by Dr. Ki Hoon Kim. The festivities were complete witha full offering table, interfaith dancing and a bountiful celebration meal. Their new patio and playground were recently completed and enjoyed by many.
The small but close-knit Unificationist community in Omaha, Nebraska held a Sunday Hoon Dok Hwe (scripture reading) service with a beautiful offering table to celebrate True Heavenly Parent’s Day. Pastor Mark Lincoln read some of True Father’s words, followed by a reflection. They then had their Sunday Service to which families from Kansas, Ohio and Iowa came, as well as three guests. Miilhan Stephens, FFWPU USA Vice President, gave the sermon, speaking about his journey discovering the power of Tribal Messiahship. He closed by inviting everyone to pray for one person this week with all their heart and allow God to work. The community celebrated with lunch, an open mic and some group games.
The Las Vegas Family Church celebrated the 49th Heavenly Parent’s Day on February 8. Over 180 family members from the local area and around the country gathered for the festivities. Dr. Michael Balcomb, FFWPU USA President, gave an inspiring sermon about God’s First Love. Afterwards, everyone ate traditional Korean Tteokguk soup to celebrate this new year of the Monkey.
The Minneapolis Family Church had about 25 people attend the 49th True Heavenly Parent Day celebration at their local church center in the early morning on February 8. They shared handshakes and smiles as they greeted one another and ate a light breakfast afterward. The attendees sincerely offered their time in their busy work life to honor God on this day, while many families celebrated at home. The group read about how God had been waiting to see the day where His ideal of creation would be realized. Pastor Hyungtae Ha led the pledge service and ended with three cheers to Heavenly Parent and True Parents.
At UC Columbus in Ohio, families from the cities of Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati gathered for a spiritual Sunday Service on the meaning of Heavenly Parent’s Day, which is based on the determination to claim God for this world. After the message, members of the community symbolically cut a cake and the whole congregation sang “Happy Heavenly Parent’s Day”. Afterwards, an abundant pot luck was shared and a good time was had by all.
The Family Church of New York City hosted 142 people for the Holy Day celebration. An intergenerational band played, as the group honored both True Parents’ Birthday and Heavenly Parent’s Day. Unificationist Robert Hall gave a testimony about Heavenly Parent’s Day and how it affected him. He was inspired and touched by God while he was giving his testimony. The sermon from Pastor Tanya Edwards was entitled, “God’s Will” and was based on True Father’s God’s Day messages from 1986 and 1991. The Holy Spirit was felt by everyone and some were crying when Pastor Tanya prayed after her sermon.
At Belvedere, over 100 Unificationists gathered and heard a message from Pastor Drissa Kone.
In Long Island, 20 Unificationists gathered to usher in the fourth year of Cheon Il Guk. They began their gathering by reciting the Family Pledge followed with a prayer by the pastor. They sang the holy songs, “Light in the East” and “Heart of the Father”, and watched the weekly update video from Korea followed by the reading of True Fathers God’s Day Speech from 1988 entitled “Let God Stand right in Front”. The Reading was done with everyone participating reading a paragraph in turn. The service was concluded with singing the song “Light of Grace” and a closing prayer by an elder brother, Rev. Fong. A beautiful lunch was shared with everyone together after the service.
“By singing the holy songs and watching the weekly report, we could feel a close connection with things taking place in Korea,” said Pastor Tom Corley.
On a beautiful sunny Sunday morning with the winter crisp air, Unificationists jumped out of their cars and gathered to celebrate True Heavenly Parent’s Day. The offering table, full of different colored fruits as well as snacks and other goodies, stood beautifully in front of the room. At 9:30am, Pastor Abe and Mika Deshotel lead the congregation through the ceremony with the reciting of the family pledge and a prayer. Pastor Mika asked the young people in the audience who are preparing to receive the Marriage Blessed in the upcoming Foundation Day Blessing to cut the cake with her. It was a hopeful moment for the congregation to acknowledge and see these four young Unificationists inheriting the tradition of the Blessing. Everyone sang “Happy Heavenly Parent’s Day” in high spirits.
After a short break, Pastor Abe and his band led everyone in a few songs to start the Sunday Service. The music set a lighthearted atmosphere and everyone was singing with a lot of energy. Pastor Mika went up to the podium to show her video sermon, which was a story of “The Terrible Chenoo”, retold by Fran Parnell. It was a story of loving one’s enemy and how that love melted the Chenoo’s icy heart. After the video sermon, Pastor Mika asked some people to read a few quotes from “The Way of God’s Will” about heart.
After the morning celebration, everyone was excited to have lunch, talk and spend time with each other. Children were running around and there was laughter everywhere. Soon afterward, there was a heated game of yute with a lot of excitement and energy.
“I believe God was enjoying the time with everyone and made the experience even better,” said local Unificationist Yasutaka Ozawa.
The Philadelphia Family Church celebrated the Holy Day during their Sunday worship service.
In their 20-year tradition, eight members of the Detroit Family Church, including Pastor David Kasbow, gathered at the local Holy Ground on the morning of February 8 to sing, pray, and offer their resolutions for Heavenly Parent’s Day and the new year.
The LA Family Church celebrated the 49th True Heavenly Parent’s Day at the local theater where they gather for worship service on Sunday morning. Over 380 people gathered there with a beautiful offering table with diverse fruits and flowers. Each family took a picture with the offering in the background. During the celebration, Rev. Youngtack Yang gave a special Holy Day sermon called, “Beginning is Halfway Done.” Then they enjoyed an entertainment program with international foods such as Korean rice cakes, burritos, and fruits.
The Madison Family Church in Wisconsin celebrated True Heavenly Parent’s Day in a unique way this year. They conducted a “speed sharing” activity that provided one-on-one sharing but in only one-minute segments. This kept the energy lively, and young and old alike could share together many personal things. Through the activity everyone was able to learn a little more about each other. It was a very stimulating experience for everyone and it even went a little longer than planned!
Afterward, the group held a trivia contest with teams of three, which was organized by young Unificationist Rosia Schmidt. Several categories were included and it challenged everyone’s trivia skills. Prizes were given to the top teams.
On Monday morning, February 8, families held pledge services in their homes at 7:00am in unified prayer
On Sunday, February 7, the Seattle Family Church celebrated the 49th True Heavenly Parent’s Day at church. Most of the local families attended the celebration. Following the recitation of the Family Pledge, passages from the Cheon Seong Gyeong about the significance of Heavenly Parent’s Day were shared. A beautiful piano rendition as a musical offering was performed by a young Unificationists. Pastor Nelson Mira reminded everyone about the motto that True Mother declared not only for the year of 2014 but for every year until 2020: “Let us become the true owners of Cheon Il Guk who practice true love in resemblance to our Creator, the Heavenly Parent!”
A small gathering of families, 10 people in total, celebrated Heavenly Parent’s Day in South Dakota. Izumi Kane offered a prayer, and the group read passages from the Pyeong Hwa Gyeong together. Mayuri Hoffman gave a message, after which the group shared a potluck dinner and cake. They spent time together all evening singing karaoke and playing charades.
The Orlando Family Church celebrated the Holy Day with the family pledge and a reading from two of True Father’s God’s Day speeches. Then they shared memories of past Heavenly Parent’s Days, thinking of all the years that have passed and how everyone has changed. There were memories of celebrations during missionary work, True Father’s speeches in New York, and True Father’s visit to Japan in 1968. They also looked at photos of True Parents over the years. Then they cooked bulgogi and celebrated with a cake.
The Anchorage Family Church community celebrated the True Heavenly Parents’ Day Holy Day on Sunday, February 7 at Anchorage Garden with a Family Pledge and Hoon Dok Hwe (scripture reading) Sunday Service. They continued their program with a shared fellowship and afternoon Superbowl Party. There were 34 attendees with 11 guests all cheering on their favorite teams.