Preliminary Remarks at the Fifth Anniversary of the 8,000 Couples’ Blessing
Sun Myung Moon
July 5, 2012
Directed to James Baughman, representing all 8,000 Couples
Translator: Sang Kil Han
When I heard about your meeting, I thought it would be a good occasion to speak to you. I was in Gloucester for the start of the fishing season, and I drove down from there this morning. But it is apparent from the late communication to me* and the small numbers of people here that many people did not realize the importance of this anniversary celebration. If people don’t understand the seriousness of a meeting, they may not come. But when you can tell members that I approved it, they will make much more effort to attend.
Those families with children raise your hands. How many children of the 8,000 Couples are there now? You should keep a record of how many blessed children are born each month. At events like this, the 8,000 BFA should have prepared all the data so that if I ask, you will be able to tell me exactly how many boys and how many girls have been born as well as their ages. You should also have statistics on the number of interracial and international couples. You should have found out how many were coming to this meeting from all the different regions so that you could inform me of the preparations you have made. Then you could ask me, “Can you please come, Father?” How can I respond without the proper preparation?
Do you know the significance of the 8,000 Couples Anniversary? It is much more important than the Science Conference, any theologians’ seminar, or any other meeting prepared for non-members. You must have this in mind when informing the members about the event. Unless you can help them understand the vital importance of this gathering, they won’t know how to respond. You have to plan such a meeting very well and make a strong foundation for it. Good planning takes a lot of heart. First you create the foundation, then you invite me. This is the way it should be — now and in the future.
You should not take these meetings lightly. This is a Sunday, so all couples should have come-100 percent. Make sure that everybody comes to such a meeting, whether I am scheduled to come or not. Then on top of that, if I do come, it will be an even more powerful meeting.
It looks like this multitude does not have a leader to follow. That means you are in a more inferior position than the Israelites wandering in the desert. Is that what you are? You want to belong to somebody, don’t you? If you really felt that you belonged to True Parents, you would more deeply feel that other people should become a part of the same “nationality” as well.
Do you have a preference for what you would like me to do? You can see me when you like, but I would like to leave now. Do you have a right to say no?
At this point Father asked three blessed wives in turn to share about their international marriages — their struggles and victories and their attempts to create harmony with their husbands. Their testimonies helped prepare a warm and receptive atmosphere. After this Father took a seat on stage and began his speech.
*Although much effort through various channels was made by the 8,000 BFA to inform True Parents about the July 5 meeting, they only heard about it the day before.
Expanding the Level of Messiahship
Blessed Family Associations
July 5, 2012
Father spoke on July 5 at the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the 8,000 Couples’ Blessing [see p. 4]. He gave guidance on not only the Blessing but also the importance of Blessing Associations. In the following article based on an interview with Victoria Clevenger, James Baughman, who has chaired the 8,000 Blessed Family Association (8,000 BFA) for the past two years, shares his understanding of the purpose of Blessed Family Associations, his experience with the 8,000 BFA, the July 5 event, and his feelings about the responsibility of blessed couples.
In the spring of 1985, Father and Mother asked Rev. Won Pil Kim, the head of the national Blessed Family Department at that time, to start Blessed Family Associations for each Blessing level represented in the United States — the 43, 777, 1800, 35, 74, and 8,000 Couple Blessings. True Parents wanted to make sure that the needs of blessed families in the United States were being met. They feel it should be the responsibility of the Associations, not the church, to deal with couples’ specific concerns. These Associations had already been established in Korea and Japan for couples of earlier Blessings; in fact, the couples of each Blessing elected their Association officers the day after their wedding in many cases. These were local organizations set up in a democratic way but always closely connected to True Parents and the elder couples.
Rev. Won Pil Kim had meetings with those from each Blessing group in the New York area, but since our Blessing is so large, he met with 35 representatives chosen by department leaders. These representatives nominated candidates, cast ballots, and thus elected officers for the 8,000 BFA. Although not all members could be consulted, at least a beginning was made. Rev. Chan Kyun Kim, a 36 Blessed Couple who had served as head of the Blessed Family Department in Korea for 10 years, Dr. and Mrs. Hugh Spurgin, and other elder blessed members oversaw the election process but did not get directly involved. We want to continue these traditions initiated in Korea of democratically choosing our own officers and agenda and having elders as our advisors.
To clear away any confusion, the national Blessed Family Department is an official church department that sets policy under the direction and guidance of True Parents. The Blessed Family Associations, on the other hand, are more informal, grass-roots organizations, similar to alumni associations. Rev. Chan Kyun Kim told us that in Korea, when members of the same Blessing would gather, a warm, happy atmosphere would be generated, like that of a class reunion. Though BFAs don’t set policies, they exist to help fulfill the needs and concerns of blessed families.
As explained to us by Rev. Won Pil Kim and Rev. Chan Kyun Kim, the BFAs have five important spiritual and practical purposes.
The primary purpose is to help blessed members connect with True Parents and God’s providence more deeply. Creating a sense of genuine friendship and shared identity among those of our own Blessing can enhance our ability to fulfill this goal.
If we have to worry too much about our own situations and aren’t being supported by each other enough, some of us may feel, “My family’s suffering, so I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to pay my bills…I’ve got to get a job outside the movement.: and may start to pull away. But if we can support each other as a Blessing community, it will be easier for us to accomplish all our public and private responsibilities.
Secondly, our Blessing protects the True Family as well as the Blessings before us. Our united commitment creates an incredible fortress around True Parents and their family. It is vital that we develop a strong unity with those of our own and other Blessings so that we don’t allow any spiritual penetrations to occur that would cause the True Family to suffer, as happened with Heung Jin Nim’s sacrifice. Our unity helps protect us and our children, as well.
The third purpose is to do for each other what True Parents would like to do for us. Those of us who have, need to give. For example, couples who have found a way to get a job or a house while maintaining a church mission should show others how to do it. Those who have experience in cutting costs in the process of having a baby or in creating harmony in wondering why he, a church leader, gave such regard to one in a subordinate position. He explained that our tradition teaches us to always respect our spiritual parents no matter what their current mission or status is. Of course, we respect those in official positions in the church hierarchy, regardless of their age or Blessing, as well.
The third type of system is the family system of Blessing groups. It is important to respect those from earlier Blessings, no matter what their position in the church. Within our Blessing level, our position doesn’t matter — we are all brothers and sisters and should relate to and care for each other equally.
Thus a person may be elder in terms of physical age, spiritual age, Blessing group, or position in a mission. The more we respect and consult our elders, the richer in wisdom and heart our movement can be. It is very easy to have unrealistic expectations of church leaders. The BFA should provide personalized care and concern — “being there” for members so that no one need harbor bitterness toward the church for not fulfilling his or her needs. Many members have difficulty balancing their priorities: Some focus only on their mission, some only on their family. Helping members learn how to deal with all their concerns helps the whole purpose, True Parents, and ultimately God’s providence.
Establishing our Identity
The 8,000 Couples’ Blessing is by far the largest and most international, interracial, and intercultural Blessing. We have members at every stage — from those who are single to those with up to four children. (In many ways, the problems that exist in our Blessing also exist to the same degree, percentage-wise, in every other Blessing, but because there are so many of us, the problems are much more visible.) We are also the only group that is made up of two Blessings — the 2,000 and the 6,000. We face the challenge of helping each other identify with a group as large, widely dispersed, and diverse as we are.
Rev. Won Pil Kim explained to the BFA officers the tradition of preparing a status report for Father at every anniversary. Indeed, on July 5 Father asked us for statistics on the number of children born, those couples without children, etc. To keep track of about 4,000 incredibly mobile individuals in such a large country as the United States is almost impossible because there is not enough communication from the field. Having this information would enhance our ability to specifically extend personal care to those in the field as well as to report to True Parents.
To deal with these challenges, we started our newsletter, the Home Front.
We decided to send it free to all members of the 8,000 Couples in the United States and some overseas — whatever their status — to reinforce the principle that everybody in our Blessing is equal. On the newsletter itself is printed: ‘Address change requested. Return postage guaranteed.’ If there is any change in the address, the post office will return it to us if it did not get to the individual. We make note of that change and send it back. Thus we gain an up-to- date address list that would be much harder to maintain otherwise.
We want the Home Front to be a mixture of practical issues related to marriage and family life, and spiritual guidance and inspiration, as well as ideas on how to start local Blessed Family Associations. We want to open it up to discussion of all issues, no matter how sensitive they are, but always in a constructive way. Because it is the most widely circulated publication to our membership in this country, the Home Front has also become a vehicle for information from the national Blessed Family Department, with whom we have close ties.
Of Critical Importance
An additional purpose of the newsletter is to try to nurture a sense of seriousness about our Blessing and our Association. The BFA and our Blessing have critical importance, spiritually and providentially. At this year’s celebration Father’s words to me as the executive director of ICUS — that the anniversary celebration was more important than ICUS mandated this without a shadow of a doubt. In essence, he indicated that participating in the Association has at least the importance of a regular church mission, if not more, although we can’t sacrifice our mission to work for the Association.
Our brothers and sisters are feeling tremendous pressure from working at a church mission and trying to deal with the practicalities of living a family life when finances are difficult and living conditions are cramped. Some couples are helping each other, but we have to do much more. Since the only way we can truly fulfill the nurturing aspect we all need is at the local level, we strongly encourage the development of local BFAs. I hope that soon representatives of all areas and concerns can contribute articles to the Home Front and attend meetings with the national Association officers. The founding spirit of each local association should be the same as the national one, but their natures will be different, of course, depending on the area.
Rev. Chan Kyun Kim told us that in Korea, whenever the BFAs met, the main focus was: “How can we help God’s providence succeed?” The couples would gather and pray especially for True Parents. They would discuss how to help each other and would often organize programs featuring special speakers. Sometimes they would sponsor contests — with prizes awarded, for example, to those children who served their parents best or those parents who were the best in the eyes of their children. Funds were collected to purchase gifts of appreciation for True Parents’ family and to donate to the church for public purposes. Scholarship funds were set up for the blessed children. Men’s and women’s groups were established to help support the work of the church, and a newsletter informed members about activities and matters of personal interest.
These traditions are being carried out already in several local associations in this country. On a national level, a trust fund has been set up by the national 8,000 BFA to assist with certain individual family needs. Trustees collect donations and oversee this fund, which is used to help families deal with such crises as serious health problems, handicaps, disasters, or accidents, and anything else the trustees feel is appropriate. Church funds, which are non-profit funds, can only be used for things that benefit the entire group. For these expenses, the national Blessed Family Association account is used to pay for the Home Front, education, and anything else that benefits the whole. We want to create no burden on the members and yet be self-sufficient. It is important that people be able to contribute on the local level as well. Once Father asked the members of one BFA in Korea, “Would you cook a chicken dinner for Mother and me? Then why don’t you bring a chicken to the church instead? Moreover, why don’t you donate that money to the BFA at each general meeting for the sake of the world providence?!” Our national BFA funds come from departments and other church-related organizations and from individual donations for specific purposes.
Holding anniversary celebrations is another tradition from Korea and a way to generate a feeling of solidarity, identity, and commitment among those of our Blessing group. At these times we offer gifts to True Parents and the True Family on behalf of our entire 8,000 BFA. The Tradition: Book I explains that our Blessing anniversary actually becomes our new spiritual birthday and should be commemorated as a day of victory for God and a renewal of our commitment to fulfill our responsibility as the children of True Parents. Father and Mother have attended the anniversary celebrations of the different Blessings whenever possible. They want to lend strength to the BFAs because they started them. Our goal is always to get True Parents to come.
The first official anniversary celebration by the 8,000 BFA was held July 1, 1985. Father was in prison, so it was hard to celebrate, but we did, and we had a very large turnout. Jin Sung Nim gave a wonderful message from his unique position as a blessed husband in True Parents’ family. He and Dr. Bo Hi Pak delivered a letter of congratulations from True Parents and a large donation, and several of the 36 Couples attended. It was not just a small get-together, but rather a vertical, uplifting experience that people took seriously.
For the following anniversary, held October 14, 1986, we had a fairly good turnout. True Parents were in Korea, but Dr. Bo Hi Pak sent a telegram extending True Parents’ deepest blessings. I’m very grateful for Dr. Pak and all those leaders who have given us guidance; however, I feel it has not been clear to everyone just what kind of priority should be put on our BFA and anniversary celebrations.
This year, for example, attending the celebration was not a high priority for many leaders and members. However, Father’s coming and speaking indicated without a doubt the great spiritual importance of this yearly event, and it signaled that our mission as a community of blessed families is more important than we often realize.
For the celebration, we had planned a program with speakers followed by an afternoon picnic, to bring in a spirit of fellowship as well as inspiration and renewal. Many couples came who are not centrally connected with the church. Amazingly, the day turned out to be a six-hour meeting with Father, and I was very glad that those couples who don’t often see Father got to be with True Parents again.
Are We Really Willing?
We wanted to encourage members to take more personal responsibility for the success of the July 5th celebration and to help each other out. We announced on the flyers: Bring your own lunch and find your own transportation. There was a way for every- body to get there if they really wanted to go, yet people still complained that things hadn’t been arranged conveniently enough for them. I realized painfully that it all comes down to the question, “Are we really willing to take responsibility for ourselves and each other and the traditions we’ve been given?”
It is difficult for many of us to go beyond our implicit or explicit expectation that the church — or someone — should do things for us. I remember a leader once shared how people are always “expecting miracles” He said that in Biblical history, God had to perform miracles only because the people failed to take responsibility for something they could have done themselves. For example, if the Israelites had been determined enough to cross the Red Sea, they could have jumped in and started swimming — thereby at least showing that they were willing to cross at the risk of their lives. They should not have just waited for Moses to perform a miracle.
After having made final preparations at Belvedere the night before the celebration, I thought about these things and began praying and crying. I understood that True Father is always in the position of Moses, being asked to do one more thing because we feel we can’t do it ourselves. “Why can’t we break out of this?” I wondered. I realized that Father has been putting up with this attitude all his life and will probably continue to do it — this is his unconditional love. He will bring that manna down to- morrow again if we ask him to, but he shouldn’t have to. I am sure he is very concerned about the time when he won’t be around to divide the Red Sea anymore. Who is going to take charge? Are we going to be truly responsible?
In that prayer I wept and wept and begged that Father would come to our celebration. The next morning, when Father and Mother actually did appear, the first thing I felt was, “After all these years, they finally came!” The second thing was, “Father, please don’t leave!” I really wanted the members there to feel how precious True Parents’ coming was. I wanted Father to feel our support. Father could perceive that we hadn’t sufficiently pre- pared our hearts to receive him. Before he could speak, he had to create his own foundation to be received. With incredible love he instructed us in what we should have done, thought, and felt.
Father Wants Us to Succeed
I was so happy that everyone could hear what Father had to say before he began his speech. For three years, based on the understanding Rev. Kim gave to the BFA officers, I have felt very serious about this Association. Often people would come to me with their problems, looking for solutions. In many cases, our Association served as a liaison, because some members didn’t feel comfortable to go directly to a church leader. Because I have become so aware of the suffering of our brothers and sisters, it is clear to me that finding solutions to our problems requires more than external answers; we have to connect everything to Father and Mother. But how can we instill that feeling of seriousness in all of us? On that day, only True Parents could do it. In his speech, Father gave the most wonderful guidance I have ever heard regarding not only international marriage but marriage in general in our church. Father’s coming to speak to us demonstrated that True Parents are vitally concerned about our Blessing and each one of us. They really want us to succeed and become the backbone of True Parents’ work in America and the world.
In summary, I feel it is important that all the traditions initiated in Korea for the BFAs be maintained in the United States. The new BFA officers should keep in mind the incredibly diverse nature and situations of our group so that everyone’s needs can be met as much as possible. It is also essential that BFAs be started on the local level. We should always strive to maintain our vertical connection, so that everything we do has a spiritual and internal dimension; otherwise this Association will lose its meaning and function.
It’s a great challenge to heal and embrace others — to transcend our own hardships and complaints and become truly parental. There is a lot of potential for us, as the 8,000 Couples, to meet these challenges, because I believe our Association has gained momentum now. I feel that wonderful things are going to happen.
After Father’s speech, the out-going officers of the 8,000 BFA cut the anniversary cake. Left to right: Jack Hagel, James Baughman, Robert Morton, and Stephen Pres.
Chaircouple: Mark and Victoria Clevenger
Vice Chaircouple: Bill and Lisa Lay
Vice Chaircouple: Larry and Akemi Krishnek
Secretary: Dale and Joy Garrett
Treasurer: Richard and Georgia Lewis
General Affairs: Steve and Louise Honey