Midwest Regional Holy Day Celebrations
The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) Midwest Region observed the 100th birthday of FFWPU co-founders Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, affectionately known as True Parents, with a concurrent celebration of the 53rd True Heavenly Parent’s Day at the regional-level in Chicago on January 25.
The Chicago Family Church community conducted two wonderful programs to celebrate these momentous holy days. The first began with a midnight prayer and pledge service with a beautiful offering table at the Chicago Family Church Center.
After greeting True Parents, reciting the Family Pledge (core pledge of Unificationists), a unison prayer and cutting the cake, Midwest Region Director Rev. David Rendel shared about the significance of True Heavenly Parent’s Day. He said this historic day was established through True Parents’ victorious completion of the first seven-year course after their Holy Wedding, and through the total trust that they developed with Heavenly Parent and each other.
A total of 40 Unificationists of all ages attended the program, who all felt deep hope and confidence for the resurrection of Christianity as the key to restoring America.
Later in the morning, the celebration continued together with Christian pastors, ministers and Chicago Family Church Unificationists at a special Birthday Breakfast at the Life Center Church of God in Christ in Chicago. In spite of freezing rain and snow, over 200 people attended the beautiful program, which was graciously hosted by Pastor T.L. Barrett.
The program began with festive singing followed by a greeting from Pastor T.L. Barrett and a delicious breakfast. Old and new guests were welcomed into the great fellowship. After breakfast, Ms. Soogin Ogden recited the seven principles of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC). Representative prayers were then offered by four pastors for the city, the state, the nation and the world.
The commemoration of True Parents’ Birthday began with singing “Happy Birthday” and a cake cutting with Pastor T.L. Barrett and representatives. A beautiful new video titled “Chosen” was shown and everyone was deeply moved by its portrayal of the gallant life and mission of True Parents and the continuing leadership of True Mother after the ascension of True Father. Rev. David Rendel showed a presentation highlighting the blessings Chicago has received from True Parents over many years.
Testimonies were offered by four elder pastors who have worked with True Parents and FFWPU for many years. Pastor Willy Weston shared heartwarming stories of the many times he went fishing with True Father in Korea and Las Vegas. Rev. Helen Cooper shared about her 30 years’ experience working with Chairman of Universal Peace Federation (UPF) USA Dr. Michael Jenkins and faithfully attending True Parents through all the ups and downs over the years.
Pastor T.L. Barrett concluded the program by expressing his gratitude to True Parents for being selected to serve on the Founding Committee of the World Clergy Leadership Conference (WCLC) and leading the entire gathering in offering a special birthday donation to True Parents.
The Minneapolis Family Church started their holy day celebrations with a morning pledge service at 8:00 a.m. with a beautiful offering table. Preparing the offering table as an offering to Heavenly Parent and True Parents created a beautiful environment for all the Minnesota Unificationists to come together.
At 11:00 a.m., they held a prayer breakfast inviting 12 friends of the clergy and their friends to join. Pastor of Minneapolis Family Church Rev. Hyungtae Ha welcomed everyone with a slideshow explaining the Unification movement in great detail. ACLC board member Bishop Victoria from End Time Apostolic Church emceed the program, introducing Pastor Elaine Benson to sing “Mary Did You Know?” and then she sang “Work It On Out.”
Throughout the program a bishop from Nigeria gave a unity prayer, the youth performed the “Unity” dance, and the main address encouraged all to put God in the center of everything. Afterwards, everyone met in the social hall to eat a delicious meal and to enjoy fellowship.
The Omaha Family Church in Nebraska held a three-part service for 28 guests to celebrate these holy days. Part One consisted of singing the Cheon Il Guk Anthem, a bow to Heavenly Parent and True Parents, reciting of the Family pledge, and a message from Rev. Mark Lincoln, pastor of the Omaha Family Church, about True Mother’s motive for “shifting the culture” of celebrating these holy days.
Sunday service opened Part Two, followed by the reading of “Father, I Love You,” and a sermon by Rev. Lincoln titled “Mary Failed in Her Mission.” The finale, Part Three, welcomed American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) representative Rev. Raymond Hill, who gave some inspiring remarks, saying, “We would not be here today if it weren’t for Father and Mother Moon,” and continued with a high-spirited Korean lunch.
Kansas City, Kansas
The Kansas City Family Church in Kansas had a beautiful True Parents’ Birthday Celebration in conjunction with a pastor’s prayer breakfast, welcoming 12 Unificationists and three ministers on Saturday, January 25. Guest speaker Rev. Kim Dominic gave a message explaining how she became a Methodist church minister from a civil engineer, and talked about her challenges and blessings in her ministry. This sparked an impromptu Q&A session, where Rev. Dominic took the time to answer each question one by one. The celebrations concluded with the “Chosen” video presentation, the singing of “Happy Birthday” to True Parents, and cutting the cake.
On January 25, the Family Church in Columbus, Ohio started their celebrations off with a midnight prayer and, a few hours later, a morning pledge service. At 10:00 a.m., 120 people joined the festivities, which included welcoming remarks from FFWPU Ohio State Leader Pastor Marquis Van de Mark, who spoke on the significance of the holy days, and an opening prayer from ACLC representative Rev. Andre Reese.
Following some musical entertainment, four clergy members gave testimonies about their experiences at the Peace Starts With Me Clergy Rally in New Jersey on December 28. The celebrations concluded with a raffle for door prizes and a catered buffet dinner.
To commemorate these holy days, six Unificationists from the Fargo Family Church community in North Dakota celebrated with dinner at the Olive Garden. One guest was so moved to be invited, he paid for everyone’s meal! Other Unificationists in North Dakota celebrated in their own local communities to watch the “Chosen” video presentation and to send True Mother their greetings, love and support.
The Indianapolis Family Church in Indiana held a series of events to celebrate True Heavenly Parent’s Day and True Parents’ 100th Birthday. It began with a midnight prayer on January 25 and a pledge service later in the morning with 40 attendees. This was followed by a luncheon banquet with 60 Unificationists and 15 guests, including members from the Latter-Day Saints Missionaries and other religions. Pastors of Jesus Saves Lighthouse Church in Indianapolis, Rev. Venus Stafford and Rev. Kenneth Alexander, presented a beautiful letter written to True Mother, reading:
“Dear Mother Moon, we stand with you at the time of this wonderful celebration. Wishing you, as the True Parents, the best. Blessings upon the late Rev. Moon and your ministries that have blessed so many worldwide. I pray that God would open a door for us to meet soon to talk about the vision you wish to come in 2020. I know that there is so much for us to learn.”
A birthday card to True Parents was made and signed by all the ministers and members.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
The Grand Rapids Family Church in Michigan had a wonderful holy day celebration with 26 participants attending a pledge service at a local Unificationist’s home, and dinner at the Worthy Community Center.
Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) Faculty Advisor Dr. Stephen Barton gave a short testimony about True Parents and the influence of studying their words has had on his life. He said, “I am a baby in the Unification movement, but I know God is leading me through all of this.”
Even with a significant storm in the forecast, 42 participants gathered at the Ingleside Hotel and Resort in Pewaukee, Wisconsin for a fun-filled afternoon, sharing talents and testimonies about True Parents’ life.
Pastor Mary Lafayette testified that every time she attends a Unificationist event she feels love, and when she was at the Peace Starts With Me Clergy Rally, she had a spiritual experience where she saw True Father’s spirit during one of the presentations.
Enjoyable entertainment included a variety of performances including a visit from Elvis! A yut tournament concluded the celebrations, which was loud as expected and the competition was fierce.
The Charleston Family Church in West Virginia held a concurrent ACLC prayer breakfast at a Panera Bread while celebrating the two holy days. Local Unificationists went to pray at the holy ground which is located on the side of the West Virginia State Capitol.
Unificationists and guests from the Cedar Falls Family Church in Iowa gathered at 7:00 a.m. at the Learning Center in Cedar Falls for a pledge service. On Sunday, January 26, more than 20 Unificationists and ACLC pastors joined for Sunday service to celebrate the two holy days.
Cedar Falls Family Church Pastor Carl Swearson spoke on the significance of honoring True Father on his mission over the past 100 years. Des Moines, Iowa pastor Rev. Alex Crawford spoke passionately about how God had chosen True Father, and Jesus had anointed True Father at the young age of 16, a man of God who remained faithful to his calling throughout his long life.
After prayers and cutting the cake, Unificationists gathered for a celebratory potluck meal.
St. Louis, Missouri
The St. Louis Family Church in Missouri held a wonderful True Heavenly Parent’s Day and True Parents’ 100th Birthday celebration from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for 20 Unificationists and guests. The celebrations began with pledge and prayer, then eight volunteers provided entertainment, which was followed by a final chorus of “God Bless America” and a delicious potluck lunch with bulgogi.