The 2014 ACLC National Convocation
A highlight of this year’s ACLC National Convocation was a Luncheon with True Mother, co-founder of the American Clergy Leadership Conference. She addressed 330 pastors and ministers gathered at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday, December 19, 2014. Among the dignitaries were the Honorable Dan Burton, former U.S. Congressman, and his wife.
True Mother shared her burden to save the 7.2 billion people on the earth and called on the minsters to work even harder to bring forth God’s Kingdom, or Cheon Il Guk. The participants were touched by True Mother’s remarks. Many felt her burden was too much for one person to bear, and they rededicated themselves to advancing God’s spirit in their communities. They presented True Mother with a proclamation expressing their gratitude for her leadership and declaring their love and continuing support for her.
Originally, the National Convocation was scheduled for November, but when the members of the National Executive Committee heard that True Mother would be in Las Vegas around the 20th of December, they unanimously decided to hold the annual meeting around that time. Pastor T. L. Barrett, the Senior Pastor of the Life Center COGIC in Chicago and Chairman of the ACLC Founding Committee, suggested offering a proclamation confirming their allegiance and support of True Mother. Mother Moon was so moved by the Christian ministers’ expression of filial piety and loyalty that she had the proclamation translated into Korean and published in a Korean newspaper.
The Annual Convocation was held between lunch on Wednesday, December 17th through lunch on Saturday, December 20th. The conference gathered participants from across the United States, and included Christian church leaders from Nigeria, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Divine Principle lectures were held each morning, and on Thursday and Friday afternoon eleven pastoral practices presentations were given.
The pastoral practices speakers included Chief Apostle Floyd Nelson, the Presiding Bishop of International Bible Way Churches, Incorporated; Rev. Dr. Calvin Rice, the Senior Pastor of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica (Queens), New York; and Dr. Michael T. Ross, MD, President of Defending Our Fathers House. Topics included ways to better serve the communities around each church, houses of worship establishing city-wide marriage coalitions, and preventing government muzzling of the word of God.
Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, National Co-Chairman of the ACLC, and Continental Chairman of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification – North America, shared about True Parent’s vision for ACLC, and their motivation and vision for spending the last four years of True Father’s life in Las Vegas.
Dr. Michael Balcomb, the President of the FFWPU USA gave a presentation about the Marriage Blessing. Following his explanation, a Blessing was held for the assembled couples. Many of the participants decided they wanted to start a marriage ministry in their church and would promote the Marriage Blessing tradition among their congregation.
The Divine Principle presentations were delivered by Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, Jr., the National Co-Chairman of the ACLC and Founder and Prelate of the Imani Temples African American Congregations, Inc; Dr. Michael Jenkins, Chairman Emeritus of ACLC; and Rev. Michael Sykes, Pastor of the United Missionary Baptist Church of East Orange, New Jersey. Their presentations included The Principle of Creation, the Fall of Man, the Mission of the Messiah, the Principle of Restoration and the Parallels of History.
Archbishop Stallings began the Convocation by reading True Father’s 1974 message, “The New Future of Christianity”. This message clarified the responsibility of John the Baptist, the mission of Jesus, and proclaimed that Christ would return as a couple. On Friday, Archbishop Stallings presented the Second Coming lecture just before the luncheon with True Mother.
Rev. Sykes and Ministers Zena Chee met through the ACLC, and attended the Holy Marriage Blessing Ceremony at the Second Foundation Day. Rev. Sykes’ sermons and Divine Principle presentations reached a new level of understanding since then. In his Fall of Man lecture, he questioned if eating something would have been serious enough for God to kick Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. He noted that if a wife simply ate something she wasn’t supposed to, like a pie, the husband wouldn’t throw her out of the house. But infidelity within marriage would break the bond of trust and love between a husband and wife, and would warrant a more severe punishment to restore the relationship. Similarly, only a misuse of love could warrant Adam and Eve’s expulsion from God’s presence.
In Dr. Jenkins’ lectures he shared many examples that helped pastors understand their ministry challenges. Pastors, though innocent, might face false accusations and will have to digest the persecution without defending themselves. In the Parallels of History he spoke about God’s anointing, and how it passed from one central figure to another after the first was unable to fulfill his or her responsibility.
There were three recurring themes throughout the conference. The first was that clergymen and clergywomen are the people God is using to speak His Word, and to serve and even be persecuted for the sake of others. Secondly, ministries will grow and develop when they meet the needs of others, and finally, that changing the social environment will require prayer, setting a moral and righteous example, and political involvement.
The conference concluded with a visit to the International Peace Education Center under construction near the McCarran International Airport. Participants left refreshed, eager to get back to work, and looking forward to next year’s National Convocation.
Contributed by Tom Cutts, National Executive Director, American Clergy Leadership Conference