A Blessing in Yeosu

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On June 29, Family Federation International Vice President Dr. Ki Hoon Kim and his wife, Mrs. Tamme Kim held a Holy Marriage Blessing Ceremony at Yeosu, South Korea, completing their Blessing of 430 couples.

In the Grand Ball of the Ocean Resort, 620 people from Bo-Eun, Mrs. Kim’s hometown, were in attendance to receive the Marriage Blessing. She was full of joy as she was able to help offer this gift to God along with so many who shared her roots.

Dr. Kim and Mrs. Kim also invited their relatives to receive the Marriage Blessing. For years, the couple have invested tremendously by making many devotional commitments in order for this Marriage Blessing to happen.

After Rev. Cheong Soo Kim, the emcee of the ceremony, gave a video presentation regarding the meaning of the Blessing, Dr. Kim delivered the main address, emphasizing that we can build happy families and one family under God through the greatest gift of True Parents: the Marriage Blessing.

Rev. Koo Yong Park gave a representative prayer following by the entrance of the officiator. Rev. Yoon Ho Ok and his wife were the officiators and after the Holy wine ceremony and holy water ceremony, all participants received the benediction and the Marriage Blessing was proclaimed.

Young Soo Cho, President of Ambassadors for Peace in Bo-Eun gave congratulatory remarks. Finally, over 600 people in the room joined together to share this great achievement with God through eog mansei (cheers for million years of victory).

Many Unificationist leaders from Korea, Japan, and America sent flowers to congratulate Dr. Kim and Mrs. Kim on completing the Blessing of 430 couples. The couple is determined to hold more Marriage Blessing ceremonies more in America, Korea, and other nations to fulfill their missions as tribal messiahs.

We’re all looking for ways to share the Marriage Blessing with friends, family and for the sake of building our tribe. Pastor Heather Thalheimer of the Faith Fusion chapter in New Hampshire explains how her need to do just that brought about the creation of More Than Marriage: Love as God Intended, a small but powerful book about the meaning and value of love between a man and a woman. It explains in plain language the intention of creating love as God intended through the Holy Marriage Blessing.

What made you write this book?

I was sitting in my office one day when the phone rang. The caller had found our website www.nhfaithfusion.com and wanted to know if I performed marriages for people who did not belong to our church community. I told the bride-to-be that I could perform a marriage ceremony and asked what she was looking for. Was she a person of faith, or was she looking for a more secular ceremony? (I explained we didn’t have stained-glass windows, and, if that was important to her, I could put her in touch with a pastor who does.)

After some discussion I offered her three options:

  1. A beautiful, more secular ceremony through which the couple could dedicate their love to each other
  2. A traditional Christian ceremony through which they could pledge their love to each other in the presence of God and commit until “death do us part,” or
  3. (My personal favorite) a Unificationist Holy Marriage Blessing through which, in the presence of our Heavenly Parent, they could pledge eternal love to each other.

Without hesitation, she declared, “I want the last one!” And so began our journey together. I met with the couple several times to provide guidance and education. On one occasion, she brought her mother along. Her mother listened intently, then turned to her daughter and said, “Your brother needs to hear this.”

At one point the bride-to-be asked, “Do you have anything written that we could read at home?” I paused and replied, “Oh, yes. I’ll bring it next week,” and feverishly started planning how I could write it all down by the following Saturday.

At the same time, we had a new member who was ready to receive the Blessing. She had been attending Faith Fusion with her children every week for eighteen months, in addition to participating in every workshop we put on, but her husband had serious medical issues and couldn’t easily leave the house. She told me that her husband had asked if there was anything he could read that would explain the Blessing. “I’ll bring you something next week,” I told her.

 

Pushed to action

Although I had been planning to write something for some time, these two couples stimulated me to action! I wanted to write a booklet that didn’t require a biblical background, as many of the people I witness to do not connect to the Bible. Some are Muslim, while others describe themselves as “spiritual” but don’t subscribe to a particular doctrine. I felt the booklet must appeal to a broad audience and allow people to be convinced because it resonates for them—their own original mind tells them it is true.

The couples in question found the explanation very helpful. Although the book doesn’t describe the chastening ceremony, in the rehearsal I explained the ceremony in an easy-to-understand way and they chose to participate.

What was really inspiring to me was that on the day of their Blessing, the couples brought family and friends. For the bride who called me at my office, this was her big wedding. I gave a little message about the meaning of the Holy Marriage Blessing, and her guests were literally on the edge of their seats, filming and audio-recording. Everyone thought it was so beautiful.

I spoke to the parents of the bride and groom and explained that because I was marrying them, I would always be there for their couple. Inevitably, couples will go through ups and downs, and I would always be available to them. The parents knew the truth of that and were deeply grateful for my commitment.

Some Unificationist-born young adults who have become engaged or have married outside our church community have found the book helpful in explaining the Holy Marriage Blessing to their partner. It has served as a bridge to our community and traditions.

 

How else have you used the book?

I have offered to mixed audiences, including Christian pastors, workshops that delivered the same content but in a bit more detail. To tell you the truth, I was a little intimidated to offer the content to Christian pastors, as I recognized that my presentation is not very biblically based. I suggested to the local pastor that instead she should invite a pastor from the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) to present the content to these guests. The local pastor asked me to make the presentation anyway, and so I did. The Christian pastors ate it up. I think the simple explanation and realness resonated for them. In their congregations they are leading people who are all over the map and need practical support. The pastors asked me for the PowerPoint so that they could show it to their congregations. Now we just have to get them blessed. 

I also was able to give the Holy Wine to a Muslim friend with whom I am collaborating. He was getting married and, knowing that I am a pastor, asked me to give a Blessing on their marriage as part of their wedding day celebrations that were officiated by an imam. They received the Holy Juice and prayer, and I was able to speak briefly with the guests. It was useful to have the book as a follow-up. I am trying to support this friend’s spiritual journey, and I recently gave him True Father’s autobiography. What we have to offer is so beautiful and big. I firmly believe that the Blessing takes you to a higher place.

 

What is the premise of the book?

By understanding the nature of God’s love, we can unfold our own true potential for loving relationships. We can discover the source and value of the qualities that allow us to create the kind of love we hope for, which is unchanging, absolute, eternal and unique – qualities that reflect the nature of our Heavenly Parent. Marriage takes on new meaning and depth when we understand the sacredness of the bond between a man and a woman, in relationship with God.

 

How do we create a love that lasts?

More Than Marriage addresses important questions, such as “How do we define love?” The book probes our greatest uncertainty: Is lasting love even possible?

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Everyone’s greatest desire in life is to love and be loved. You don’t have to think about it to know this is true. It’s a natural and universal longing. But knowing what you want, by itself, is not enough to accomplish your goals when it comes to love.

All kinds of love exist in the world today, but that doesn’t mean they are all good or true. We know this because some love relationships can end up hurting, degrading or limiting you. These and other negative outcomes are not part of the original love that your mind and heart desire. Instead, people find themselves in relationships that don’t bring out the best in themselves or their partner. However, we intuitively know we deserve a deeper, richer love.

Our highest ideals originate in God, the author of love. It is interesting that the love that we all long for, regardless of our cultural background or upbringing, reflects God’s nature and heart, which is unchanging, absolute, eternal and unique.

However, when we look around us, we don’t see love as God intended. The problem with broken love is not a new one. History is full of tragic stories of corrupted love. If you decide to pursue the ideal of love, it helps to understand why love can go wrong and, more importantly, how to help it go right. To fully comprehend difficulty, you must get to the root or origin of a particular problem. When you trace problems in families, you inevitably go back in time and uncover lineal threads that hold secrets and unhealthy patterns of behavior.

More Than Marriage explores the origins of the breakdown in human relationships. It reveals how what we have learned through spiritual traditions intersects with new scientific understanding and points humanity to a place of growth and healing.

Additionally, More Than Marriage asks familiar questions such as: “Why does it make a difference to include God in your relationship?”

 

A new perspective on love

More Than Marriage seeks to offer new perspectives on age-old questions about love. The book offers insights based on the wisdom of Rev. and Mrs. Moon, our True Parents, who have spent their lives in search of God’s heart and a way to bridge the gap between God and humanity. The Holy Marriage Blessing is offered as a framework to purify the corrupted love that steals people’s lives and to re-establish the foundation to receive God’s original love. Rev. and Mrs. Moon believe that the ultimate purpose of spirituality, religion and faith traditions, as well as the motivation of people of conscience, is to restore truly loving men and women, emotionally and spiritually healthy families, and, by extension, a peaceful world.

To learn more, go to loveasgodintended.org. You can download the book for free or order a hard copy to share with family and friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts and to learn how you’ve used the book in your personal ministry. Feel free to contact me at author@loveasgodinteneded.org

God bless your efforts to share the Holy Marriage Blessing.

Since February 18, tribal messiahs from all around the world have gathered at the Cheongah Camp in Korea for the Heavenly Tribal Messiah Academy workshop. The workshop has been an opportunity for tribal messiahs to connect beyond the national level, while reminding them about the essence of tribal messiahship: blessing 430 couples is just the beginning, and the work of the tribal messiah does not stop until the entire world is freed from suffering. 

Day 1 – Opening Ceremony

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The workshop kicked off on Sunday night with an extensive opening ceremony. Rev. Yong Jin-Hun, the Heavenly Tribal Messiah Academy President, emceed the program.

14 regional directors were appointed for the HTMA (Heavenly Tribal Messiah Academy). Though he could not be there in person, Demian Dunkley, Evangelism and Education Director of the Family Federation for a Heavenly USA, was appointed as the director for HTMA of North America.

The official awards ceremony for all those who had officiated the Blessing for 430 couples, including 12 American couples, was also held. Revs. Jeddie and Elma King served as representatives for the American team, receiving the award presented by Wonju McDevitt, Chief of Staff for True Mother’s Secretariat, and Yoon Young-Ho, Secretary General of FFWPU International, on behalf of True Mother.

Rev. Ken Sudo, highly respected Unificationist elder and a long-time teacher for the movement, was also recognized as a tribal messiah.

Mrs. McDevitt delivered the welcoming remarks to the hundreds of tribal messiahs who had gathered that night: “Tribal messiahship is the cornerstone to build a heavenly nation, a heavenly world, and a heavenly cosmos. It is the essence of our movement. Congratulations to you all and thank you for your dedication!”

Rev. Chung Sik Yong, regional director for FFWPU in Asia, then gave congratulatory remarks. In his address, Rev. Yong spoke about True Mother’s words: that the next two years are the time for the greatest results for filial sons and daughters. “Once we bless 430 couples, we realize that we cannot rest. This is just the starting point. Being here gives us a higher motivation to continue to expand our tribes. Because without multiplication, there can only be stagnation.”

Hori Masaichi, an older second-generation Unificationist from Japan probed into how to witness: “An exchange of heart needs to come first, then spiritual transformation, a shared culture, and Divine Principle study come naturally.”

He also said rather than focus on numbers, transformation, or membership alone in our outreach, we should be focusing on raising owners, sharing our faith, and “spreading” our faith to our own families first.

The night closed with a banquet and entertainment: two second gen vocalists, “Musica Eterna,” sang as well as Apple Heaven. Claudette Kambara, one of the American Tribal Messiahs who was recognized at the workshop, said she was crying as she ate because she felt so much love in the food, the venue: in everything that has been prepared and given by True Parents.

Day 2 – What is Tribal Messiahship? 

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On the second day of the 2018 Special Workshop for Heavenly Tribal Messiahs, the participants began to delve into the main content of the workshop.

Professor Oh Taek Yang presented on the theology and the meaning of Heavenly Tribal Messiahship, providing insights based on True Parents’ teachings on the subject, touching on such topics as our human destiny to resemble God’s creativity and become qualified to govern the created world as true owners.”Heavenly Tribal Messiahship is not about witnessing, increasing the quantity of our members [or the size of our church]. It is about creating a Godly nation, a nation centered on God….We have to become true parents, [ourselves]. This is the key of True Parents’ words,” he said. He also emphasized, as others before him, the theme that once a Tribal Messiah has Blessed 430 couples their attitude is not “now it is finished” but “now it is beginning.”

Next, Professor Yoon Do-Young highlighted the underlying principles of the success of Tribal Messiahs around the world. Rev. Yong Jin-Hun, director of the HTMA International Headquarters, offered the final presentation for the day on the lifestyle of the Heavenly Tribal Messiah. Both presentations were very practical in nature since the content was derived from the experiences of Tribal Messiahs themselves.

Interspersed between these three presentations were testimonies from successful Tribal Messiahs from Brazil, Thailand, and Zambia. Particular attention was given throughout the day to one of the testimony givers, Mr. Ronachit Phutthala, a government official in Thailand who has conducted many Marriage Blessing ceremonies and freely testifies to True Parents now that he has inherited their heart and accepted their vision as a Tribal Messiah himself. “By helping each other, we can create even more warmness and understanding. Then we can also improve the efficiency of the economy, not centered on money or addictions to material things but based on the philosophy of sufficiency in life advocated by the King [of Thailand] and of love and philosophy advocated by True Parents,” he said. 

The Tribal Messiahs also participated in two significant exercises today. The first was an hour-long group discussion in which they discussed one of two questions on current issues facing Tribal Messiahs: how to raise up tribe members filial to True Parents and what kind of education would be most supportive for Tribal Messiah activities.

The day then concluded with the second exercise in which the HTMs were invited to express their longing for True Parents in letters to True Father and True Mother. Candles were lit throughout the room to set the atmosphere and roses were passed out to each participant as an expression of love from True Parents, in turn. They sang “Saranghae Dangshineul” (“I Love You”), a favorite of our True Parents.

Stay tuned on heavenlytribe.org for more from the Heavenly Tribal Messiahship Academy! 

In the reflection below, Miyoung Eaton, a second-generation Unificationist, describes her experience during days 2 and 3 of TribeNet. Since Friday, tribal messiahs from all around the nation have gathered for TribeNet at the International Peace Education Center (IPEC) to share their testimonies and best practices, take a pilgrimage in the footsteps of True Parents to their favorite sites, and enjoy some of the wonderful family entertainment of Las Vegas. For highlights from the first day, click here

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Throughout the second day, we heard testimonies about the process and experiences of our first tribal messiahs here in America to share the Holy Marriage Blessing with 430 couples and families. With each testimony, the patterns behind their success began to emerge: they weren’t waiting for directions, they were working together and supporting others to achieve their goals, as in the case of Tomiko and Denny Duggan; they were standing up, however alone or unworthy they felt, to bless the people in their lives.

“May I bless your couple?” and “May I bless your family?” was a simple, recurring phrase that the tribal messiahs demonstrated to be a simple but effective way to express their sincerity and speak to the heart of the people they met.

I was moved by how incredibly proactive tribal messiahs have been in their care and service of their neighbors and communities. The Acevedos and Claudette Kambara, for example, have continually offered support and love to local initiatives. In the case of the venerable Rev. Jeddie King and Rev. Elma King, they offered much needed gifts of food, clothing, and basic necessities, in the addition to the Blessing. 

On Sunday, we gathered together with Unificationists from the local area for a morning worship service at IPEC, where Rev. Richard Buessing, president of FFWPU-USA, delivered the sermon. Rev. Buessing reflected on the course we’ve taken as a nation this year, from True Parents’ Birthday and Foundation Day celebrations in Korea, through Famicon to the incredible peak of our victory at Madison Square Garden, all the way to the current moment of TribeNet. So much has happened in just this year and Rev. Buessing expressed his excitement, confidence and hope for 2018 and the years to come.

Amid all of these testimonies and sharing, we also took ample opportunity to celebrate God, True Parents, and one another. We drove out to Red Rock Canyon to drink in the ever-unexpected, desert beauty of Nevada; we went bowling together—like we were taking a massive family outing together. Throughout the weekend, we had a game room set up for our younger and young-at-heart participants, creating one of the more family-friendly environments I’ve ever seen at one of our conferences.

And on the evening of the third day, we all dressed up for a formal banquet and celebration of our victorious tribal messiahs. This part of the program is probably the hardest to describe though also the most precious. There was excellent music and great food, a lot of laughter. We formally recognized our successful tribal messiahs: Joe and Sun Willett, Dennis and Mayuri Hoffman, Jeddie and Elma King, Tomiko and Denny Duggan, and Ken and Sang Moo Borneman, with three more couples honored in absentia.

And at one point during the evening, the couples in the room were all invited to come up to the front of the stage and dance. In that moment I felt how happy God must be that, amid all the suffering and brokenness in the world, there was at this little room where he could feel welcomed and at peace, knowing that the people gathered there knew his heart and are striving not only to grow in love themselves but to create a world where every single person can know such love, peace, and freedom.

As the program winds down this morning and we prepare to say our final goodbyes, I can only say that it’s been a privilege to be here and that the experience is almost too rich to describe. 

Check out heavenlytribe.org to officially join the network, learn more about what’s happening on the front line of Tribal Messiahship in America and the world, and continue forward on your own unique path toward the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. 

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On October 15, in a span of just 2.5 hours, Tribal Messiahs in the Clifton community were able to give 14 Couples’ Blessings, 5 single Blessings, and 25 Holy Wine Ceremonies for a miraculous total of 44 Blessing Ceremonies. 

“We all felt that God is alive and that True Parents are working with us,” said Atsushi Takino, Witnessing and Education Coordinator for District 3.

Rev. Hiroshi Inose, Director of Kodan, recalled one couple who received the Blessing during this day. “Spiritually, I could really feel I changed,” the husband told Rev. Inose. “I’m so grateful for you.”

“God and True Parents have prepared so many people to receive the Blessing,” said Rev. Inose, reflecting on this experience. “The time is now for us to act. All we need to do is show it to them.” For this reason, the community named the day “A Day of Action:” because the preparation has been completed by God, it is the Tribal Messiahs who must now act.

The Tribal Messiahs of the Clifton community attributed a large part of their success to the resources provided by the Witnessing and Education Department of the National Ministry Team. “Everything was prepared for us—the Holy Wine, the Blessing Guidelines Handbook, the banners, and the sashes,” said Rev. Inose. “Everything was so easy to follow, even for Japanese Unificationists who are not fluent in English.”

With the addition of these 44 Blessing Ceremonies, the Clifton community has now completed a total of 176 Blessing Ceremonies for couples and singles, leaving 254 more Blessings remaining to reach the goal of 430 couples. “430 is not just a number,” insisted Atsushi. “It is our commitment and offering to True Parents as their filial children. We want to give them hope and joy.”

As Atsushi, Rev. Inose, and the rest of the Clifton community look forward to fulfilling True Parents’ mission of Vision 2020, they remain determined in completing the goal of 430 couples by the end of 2017.

“We can’t stop doing this when we are thinking of True Father and True Mother,” said Atsushi, with tears filling his eyes.

Want to become a Tribal Messiah? Join the Tribal Messiah Network! 

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Ayako and Jorg Heller, a Unificationist couple living in New York City, recently completed the Holy Wine Ceremony for over 430 couples. Their efforts to reach this goal spanned four decades.

It wasn’t easy at first. Cultural barriers made it difficult for Ayako, who is Japanese, and her husband, who is Caucasian, to witness in their Harlem neighborhood. Most of the residents at the time were black or Hispanic, and they were often suspicious of the Hellers. Still, the couple persisted for years and slowly, the momentum began to build. Jorg became known as the newspaper-deliveryman and grew to be a familiar face in the community. “I was delivering The New York City Tribune for seven years in my neighborhood,” he explained. “So I kept meeting a lot of people.”

To witness, they invited families into their own home. “When a seminary graduate came to Harlem for the first time, our home served as a church center,” explains Ayako. “After you’re Blessed and sharing home church, we have common ground. We are basically neighbors. So we’re not really approaching strangers.” Ayako added that it was easy to make friends because the building often had problems and Jorg was quite the handyman. “Jorg has different talents, so we ended up doing what’s called natural witnessing,” she explained.

Through the years of witnessing, the couple had ups and downs. True Parents kept them inspired through it all. “True Parents started from prison. In their victory and release from prison, I also felt liberated,” says Ayako. “I realized that in order to successfully reach out to the nation, we need a tribal foundation. Without this foundation, we are not effective. That was my conclusion when it came to national messiahs. It was serious for me to break through and become a tribal messiah. So I told myself, ‘I will become a successful tribal messiah.’”

Sometimes, tragedy united neighbors and made witnessing easier. “There was a fire on the other side of our building a few years ago,” explains Ayako. “Through that disaster, the tenants of the building kind of came together. I could feel the love of True Parents in this incident.”

Today, the Hellers are reaching out to many of the people they have Blessed through the years. Although some are still in the area, many have moved and there are even couples as far away as Japan and Quebec. It hasn’t been easy to get back in contact with everyone. Luckily, they had help from other Blessed families, and, as Jorg explained, “I kept very good records of the Blessings we had done together.”

Although the couple has shared the Blessing with so many, they remain humble in their desire to continue working for God and True Parents. “We never feel we’ve done enough,” says Jorg. The Hellers, who raised six children together, plan to continue witnessing as often as they can.

Since February 18, tribal messiahs from all around the world have gathered at the Cheongah Camp in Korea for the Heavenly Tribal Messiah Academy workshop. The workshop has been an opportunity for tribal messiahs to connect beyond the national level, while reminding them about the essence of tribal messiahship: blessing 430 couples is just the beginning, and the work of the tribal messiah does not stop until the entire world is freed from suffering. Click here to read about the first two days of the workshop.

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Day 3 – Pilgrimage and Closing Ceremony

On the third day of the workshop, the tribal messiahs started off by learning how to manage one’s tribe, and how to excel at reading True Parents’ words as a foundation for home church activities. Tribal messiah representatives from different nations each spoke on their experience learning how to do foster tribal messiah activities. Marina and Jhon Acevedo, a very active couple from America, gave their personal testimony about building a tribe in America as opposed to the Philippines, where they previously lived. As they adapted their witnessing to Americans, they realized many things that helped them in their journey. “Treat others the way true Parents treat us as children,” they advised.

Claudette Kambara, another American tribal messiah, spoke about how she deeply appreciated the entire workshop. She has blessed 430 but was wondering how to move forward to the next level as a Tribal Messiah. Through the presentations and networking with the international tribal messiahs, she was given more guidance about how to grow further in her tribal messiahship. She also felt so much love and grace from True Mother in being invited to Cheon Jeong Gung and to the birthday pledge service.

Daniele Cohen was an up-and-coming tribal messiah who shared vulnerably about her determination to become a tribal messiah : to build her relationship with God and break down barriers in her relationship with God. She felt that this motivation is selfish but she also sees no other way to become as close to God as possible. Tribal messiahship, she explained, brings her face to face with what she needs to overcome in herself to truly know God.

Amy Yang, who recently organized the Chinese 4-day at the International Peace Education Center (IPEC) echoed Claudette’s gratitude. She was so grateful that her son could be here for the workshop (his name is Takayoshi Miyamoto, gave a testimony at the monthly meeting this month). She mentioned her son as a key part of her experience: “having a successor,” the 1st and 2nd gen working together was a theme that came up: the importance of our families united as the basis/foundation for Tribal Messiahship.

Although these four experiences were completely different, they nonetheless captured the heart of being a Tribal Messiah: finding your way forward step by step, however long it takes; learning from the experiences of others/networking building bonds as a global family; stepping up as an owner of one’s life, faith, relationship with God, community; raising up one’s family to create a tradition of Tribal Messiahship together.

To close the day, the tribal messiahs made their way to the Cheon Jeong Gung. After a short tour, the Unificatoinists offered prayers in the main prayer hall, and each received a special postcard with quotes from True Parents’ teachings on them. “They are all unique, so it was like each card was personalized for us,” said Miyoung Eaton, a second-generation Unificationist. “It was a really nice touch and ending to the program–to visit True Parents’ home and offer prayers for the next stretch of time in our Tribal Messiah activities.”

 

Overview of TribeNet 2017

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December 18 marked the conclusion of TribeNet, a workshop for tribal messiahs from all around the nation to share their testimonies and best practices, take a pilgrimage to True Parents’ favorite sites, and enjoy some of the wonderful family entertainment of Las Vegas. From December 15 to last night, the various tribal messiahs inspired and motivated one in fulfilling their mission of blessing 430 couples while staying at the International Peace and Education Center (IPEC).

When the workshop kicked off on Friday, the tribal messiahs had the opportunity to listen to multiple leaders of the Unification movement in America discuss tribal messiahship. FFWPU USA President Rev. Richard Buessing gave the opening remarks, explaining that the purpose of the weekend was to learn from one another, making valuable memories in honor of God and True Parents. FFWPU Continental Chairman Dr. Ki Hoon Kim speaking on the five main best practices of the American movement in 2017, his hopes looking forward to 2018, and the importance of maintaining one’s life of faith through the ups and downs of life.

In one of the most memorable moments from the weekend, Co-Chair of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) Dr. Michael Jenkins and his wife Reiko Jenkins shared their testimony about completing 430 Holy Wine Blessings this year. The tribal messiahs roared with laughter while listening, as the Jenkins shared their lessons learned with gracious and self-effacing humor. Click here to read their testimony.

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On the following day, there were two main types of activities: learning through sharing, and enjoying and appreciating one another’s company.  The learning was ample as multiple couples discussed their personal experiences in their tribal messiahship journey. The tribal messiahs shared how, in many cases, they are working in cooperation with other Unificationists to achieve their goals together. Whether through building local networks or hosting collaborative events, they are finding ways to work together and in so doing are tapping into a uniquely creative energy to meet those goals.

Another prominent theme in our top tribal messiah testimonies: begin wherever you are. Demian Dunkley, National Director of Witnessing and Education, reverberated this theme at the conclusion of the workshop: “When we hear so many different approaches and experiences with Tribal Messiahship, we are reminded that God can work with everyone who takes action, regardless of their situation, so the way is open for us all to bring our unique and exotic fruits to the banquet together.”

A particular testimony that exemplified both of these themes was that of Claudette Kambara and Sang Moo Bornerman. At Famicon earlier this year, Joe and Sun Willett shared about how they started their tribal messiahship efforts by offering the Marriage Blessing to many of their regulars at Sun’s flower business. This weekend, Claudette Kambara and Sang Moo shared their insights about the power of doing the same. Encouraged by the Willetts’ example, Claudette has stood on the foundation of her flower business to share the Marriage Blessing with her customers and contacts. Sang Moo reaches out to everyone she meets to share the Blessing: at her watercolor classes, her fitness classes, the classes she gives to teach English. Wherever she goes and whatever she does, she builds friendships and brings her faith openly and freely to those friendships.

On the third day, the participants gathered together with Unificationists from the local area for a morning worship service at IPEC, where Rev. Richard Buessing, delivered the sermon, reflecting on the course of the Unification movement in America this past year. The tribal messiahs then took the opportunity to celebrate God, True Parents, and one another as they drove out to Red Rock Canyon, went bowling together, and, later in the evening, dressed up for a formal banquet and celebration of tribal messiahs.

When the tribal messiahs bid their farewells to the other tribal messiahs across the nation, it was evident that TribeNet had been beneficial for many of its participants. “I’m more confident,” said Esther Batino, a Filipina Unificationist. “When you have the knowledge and you are equipped with tools, nothing can stop you. The reason my husband and I were hesitant is because we didn’t know how to be tribal messiahs in America. After hearing the testimonies, and insight on how to do it here, I feel nothing can stop me. In the Philippines, it was a completely different ballgame.”

Nancy Jubb, a second-generation Unificationist, also spoke about her heightened confidence: “I think everybody is a little bit scared to go out witnessing. But being here with so many other people, and seeing them go out and just do it inspired me to face that fear, and to just try and see what happens,” she said. “Even though I might not have a perfect plan for doing that, it reminds me that, at the end of the day, I want to share my faith with other people. And it’s not about convincing people to sign up to anything or join me, but it’s really just going out and sharing.”

Become part of TribeNet today! Click here to join the Tribal Messiahship Network. 

At the Connect Point Church in Atlanta, Georgia, Reverend Mark Abernathy has dedicated his life to sharing the Holy Marriage Blessing and growing his family. Over the years, he has officiated hundreds of Blessing Ceremonies and now leads a tribe encompassing over 500 couples and their children.

“When you’re leading people, you have to be creative in how you minister to them,” says Abernathy, who sometimes spends six months educating a family before officiating their Blessing. He takes things slowly, allowing couples to complete requirements at their own pace. “I tell people, ‘we’re just glad you’re here with us,’ and I let them grow,” he explains.

Reaching out to people, and then letting them grow, has allowed Abernathy to be successful over the years. The son of a Pentecostal preacher, he was first introduced to Divine Principle and the Unification Movement in 1986. He felt immediately drawn to True Father’s emphasis on Jesus and the Bible. “Father was a Christian, and Jesus spoke to him,” offers Abernathy. “As a Christian, I connected to that side of Father… what he had piggybacked on the word of God.”

At the time, Abernathy was an assistant pastor at his father’s church in Atlanta. After working for years as a teacher and school principal, he joined his father’s calling and, along with his wife, began his ministry. The church leaders were, at first, wary of his involvement with the Unification Movement. Still, he gave Principled education to his congregation. “People loved it,” he remembers. Soon, many couples were lined up asking to receive the Blessing. “Christianity offered individual salvation, but this offered family salvation,” explains Abernathy. “If you will parallel what you’re speaking about with the Bible, there is not… a Christian who would not do the Blessing.” 51 couples took part in his very first ceremony.

Abernathy’s teaching of Divine Principle draws heavily from his Christian perspective. He refers to each person in his congregation as family, and emphasizes the importance of getting to know a couple before blessing them. “I ask, ‘What are your top three priorities as a family?’ ” Once they are Blessed, he keeps the relationship going through frequent phone calls and texting. “You’ve got to keep those that you have Blessed together,” he stresses. His church regularly meets outside, in the park. “We have barbecues, and we get out there and dance!”

What has kept Abernathy going with such enthusiasm over the years? “What I did was I allowed it to be part of my life, part of my ministry,” says Abernathy. “If you really believe that this Blessing is salvation, [you think] ‘why am I not out there day and night trying to save this world?’ ”

Mark Abernathy lives in Georgia with his wife Edna. To learn more about their work, check out their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dmabernathy or visit their website: http://www.yourconnectpoint.org/.

  • Sanctify Holy Wine
  • Sanctify Holy Wine
  • Sanctify Holy Wine
  • Sanctify Holy Wine
  • Sanctify Holy Wine

Calling all leaders, tribal messiahs, and blessing officiators: great news–holy wine is now available in easy to-go pull-off-the-cap cups! Continental Chairman of FFWPU North America, Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, conducted a special ceremony on August 31 to sanctify 20,000 individually wrapped cups of holy wine so that they may be used to bless families, tribes, and communities.

“The ceremony was a very holy experience,” remarked Crescentia DeGoede, the Director of Blessing and Family Ministry who attended the ceremony. “Even though the setting was very simple, a heavenly atmosphere was created because of True Parents’ photo and spiritual presence. Dr. Kim prayed in Korean, but I could feel his heart for True Parents and tribal messiahs.” 

“I am so happy about this,” said Demian Dunkley, the Director of Witnessing and Education, regarding the new holy wine cups. “Our tribal messiahs have been asking for these cups almost every other week on our tribe net calls. This will make it so much easier for our tribes to conduct Holy Wine ceremonies.” 

If you would like to receive the new holy wine cups, join the tribal messiahship network!