‘I’m feeling grateful:’ A Chicago Weekend Celebration
An air of excitement lingered among the congregation of the Chicago Family Church at Sunday service on October 20. The day before, a Peace Starts With Me gala and JAM concert was underway at the Marriott Marquis Chicago hotel as part of the 24th annual True Family Values (TFV) Awards Banquet organized by the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC). A spirit of peace and love enveloped more than 1,300 people who attended, many of whom reflected on the celebration at the service with guest speaker Dr. Sun Jin Moon, senior vice president of Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI).
“We must become one heavenly family under God,” said Dr. Sun Jin Moon, as she shared the inspirational words of her late father Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who co-founded Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) with his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. “Parents and children must become one to be happy,” she said. “Without unity, there is no happiness.” She spoke to the audience about God’s hope for humanity and a world of peace, sharing the mission of her parents to cultivate peace and true love among people. “There is no happiness without love and no unity without love.”
Dr. Sun Jin Moon held a question-and-answer style service with the crowd, touching on how to develop a deeper connection with God and her parents. She suggested reading Unificationist scripture to tap into greater understanding and connection, and to pray for others, including any enemy. Her personable and conversational approach resonated with many people. “I personally went through struggles myself,” said Jeff Schmidt, a young Unificationist. “I’m feeling grateful to be in a place where I feel free and can worship openly and I will continue this in my life.”
Congregants and guests enjoyed a gift of more than 200 donuts at the service while celebrating the success of the gala where Dr. Sun Jin Moon was also the keynote speaker. “It’s been an incredible weekend here in Chicago,” said ACLC Midwest Chairman Rev. David Rendel. “The energy, the hope, the vision, and the confidence that we have now is really fantastic. We can really use our faith to do something great within society.” The gala and concert brought together people of various cultures and backgrounds, as they enjoyed entertainment from several performers including renowned gospel choir Soul Children of Chicago and The Jesse White Tumblers. “It’s exciting; the new friendships and just the love—there’s a lot of love here,” said Walt Whitman, who attended the Sunday service and is the founder and director of the Soul Children of Chicago.
This latest success has built momentum toward even greater things to come. “It feels amazing,” said Unificationist Margaret Repke, a Generation Peace Academy (GPA) staff member. “I’m helping to figure out how to bring all of GPA to the rally so we can really be supportive and give that energy and that love.” Hundreds of GPA participants will be among an anticipated crowd of 30,000 clergy and other esteemed guests coming to hear Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon speak at an upcoming Peace Starts With Me rally in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday, Dec. 28.