Project Phoenix: Empowering Inter-generational Relationships
This past weekend, April 8-10, 120 Unificationists, young and old, gathered at the International Peace Education Center (IPEC) in Las Vegas, NV for the first gathering of Project Phoenix, a pilot project of Origins Partnership.
Day 1 of Project Phoenix
Participants came with high hopes that it would be a transformative weekend, but with little understanding of the project and its vision, relying heavily on faith in the organizers. At the end of the weekend, it was clear their faith was in good hands.
The idea of Project Phoenix was conceived by a small group of younger and older Unificationists who had a profound experience around healing and reconciliation between young and older generations. Built on the foundation of four years of prayers for the concern of the growth of the Unification movement in North America, its premise holds that by creating intergenerational unity focused on authentic relationships as a family, we can create communities across the states filled with joy and loving families centered on God.
The purpose of the conference was as follows:
To experience God, be lit up about our lives and unique contribution, to leave connected to a dynamic community, and to be empowered in moving forward as a family and movement.
To set a space where everyone could grow as family, 14 family groups were created at the gathering, each consisting of about six to eight participants. Each family group consisted of a mix of senior and junior Unificationists. Lucia Anderson and Tasnah Moyer facilitated a session, guiding participants to commit to creating a space of discovery, listening, sharing and being present.
David Young led a guided session from his Divine Principle application seminar, Take Your Life On, on taking ownership of life as God’s child. This assisted in opening hearts and minds to receive not just the person sitting in the chair across the table, but to receive ourselves as people fully capable of anything.
“I really enjoyed David Young’s talk,” said participant Laura Boitano. “It was about empowering yourself to change your attitude to change your circumstances, and I thought that was really relevant to my life and a really useful tool to not victimize yourself but to empower yourself to get the results that you want in your life.”
With this in place, Justin Okamoto facilitated the process of setting intentions for the weekend. Afterwards, Sam Orman led the group family-time fun that had everyone playing games, singing, and dancing. The night closed powerfully with group song and prayer in trinities.
Day 2 of Project Phoenix
To open the next day, participants gathered for Hoon Dok Hwe (scripture reading), meditation and stretching before breakfast. The morning session was an exercise in intergenerational appreciation.
Younger Unificationists went to another room and separately, both age groups made a list that expressed words of gratitude and important things each age group wanted the other to know and understand. Gathering again in the main conference area, young Unificationist representatives read from their list while senior Unificationists stood and received their heart of sharing.
Afterwards, the senior Unificationists shared gratitude, acknowledgment and understanding to the younger Unificationists. What transpired was an experience never created before: both generations felt many barriers break down, many misunderstandings clear up and everyone realized the heart and motivation on both sides were centered on similar things. This set the tone for the day.
Following this emotional exercise were testimonies by representatives of both generations illustrating individual experiences being part of the Unification community. Mark Anderson and Mark Boitano, both senior Unificationists, shared how they had used Unification principles in the political realm.
The stories shared were deeply personal, intimately revealing, and heavy with emotions and tears. So much love and empathy was expressed and received at this time. Everyone reflected on the morning sessions and more stories were shared, opening more hearts and creating more understanding.
“Everybody is sharing freely,” said participant Andrew Love. “There’s no hesitation to say what’s exactly on one’s mind. People are growing fast and ideas are flowing and I feel that we’re coming together and making real plans that are actually going to happen.”
The afternoon was hands-on and reflected the vision of Origins Partnership, a 501c3 organization started by some senior American Family Coalition (AFC) members, which models itself after intergenerational cooperation.
After a presentation based on fields of interest, participants spent time connecting around areas of interests and making plans to network after the conference. This was followed by 21 presentations on 21 projects currently being done or just beginning. It opened everyone’s eyes to the many initiatives happening across the country to build the culture of heart talked about so often in our individual communities.
Ending the day early, and with some free time to network and see the sights of Vegas, many took advantage of the short time available to continue sharing and creating stronger bonds of friendship before closing the day.
Day 3 of Project Phoenix
Final moments of Project Phoenix’s initial conference was spent networking, reflecting, and gaining lessons on how to successfully build a project from the ground up. Participants are hopeful and renewed in their desire to continue to invest in their communities locally as well as in the Unification community nationally, only now, they are moving forward inter-generationally. The difference everyone hopes to see is an increase in joy, happiness, and authentic relationships in the Unification family.
“I’m really interested in what we can create together as a community,” said Benito Rodriguez, one of the event organizers. “I believe that inter-generational partnerships are empowering for both older Unificationists and younger Unificationists and is a great platform for new ideas and conversations.”
Project Phoenix organizers plan to have many more gatherings of this kind to continue to build the momentum that was generated in Vegas. Keep an eye out for the next event and registration here.
Mike Smith, Mark Boitano, Jin Kwon Kim, Mark & Lucia Anderson, David Burgess, Naokimi Ushiroda, Henri Schauffle, Justin Okamoto, Neil & Teresa Rischl, David Young, Tasnah Moyer, Sam Orman, and Benito Rodriguez.
UPF, CARP USA, FFWPU