Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, President of the Unification Church USA invited departmental leaders to a meeting at the East Garden church complex in Irvington, New York on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. For many, it was the first time to return to the property following the ascension of Father Moon, who lived there for most of the forty years of his ministry in America.
After a thorough walking tour of the buildings and grounds, Hyung Jin Nim talked to the leaders of ministry, branding, public affairs, blessed life and legal departments about his goals for upcoming months. “Our focus will be upon creating a healthy church and a growing church,” he said. “We want this health to reach to the grassroots structures. We want to shift our attention to the field, because no one joins through a headquarters. So, we would like to shift the role of headquarters from a command role to more of a support role for the local churches,” he said.
He added that it is essential for headquarters (HQ) to provide products that the field can really use and that many of the recommendations of the “witnessing summits” of 2008 and 2009 would be acted upon. “We will continue the efforts that came from the those summits,” he said.
In regard to the ministerial products created by the Lovin’ Life Ministry, he said, “we want to keep up the core curriculum, the Launch Pad and the good visual materials that we made and build upon it.”
Rev. Moon also urged increased efforts to incorporate Bible study in Unificationist educational programs and worship. “Let’s add a stronger Biblical content. After all, we are Christians. God did use the cross to bring salvation – the redemption of humanity’s sins. We know that there is unfinished work, but that is huge!” he said. “Let’s not shy away from Christian language. One of the tragedies of many of our youth growing up in this movement is that we didn’t learn about the Bible. There is this whole tradition of studying the Bible that is missing in our movement. We have no need to be embarrassed about it. Invite back the biblical roots of our church. You know, worshipping God, praising God is difficult without the Bible. By studying the Bible we will connect with our real roots.” Rev. Moon also told the group that he is eager to act on an idea put forward by Yeonah Nim, his spouse, to create a “Completed Testament Age” Bible, including the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Divine Principle.
The 20-acre East Garden property, which inlcudes a conference center and several residences, originated from a purchase of the “Exquisite Acres” estate in 1973 for $625,000. There were extensive physical improvements in following years. In the early 1980’s a two-story residence and conference center were built to accommodate larger groups of visitors. Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Mrs. Moon, affectionately known as True Father and True Mother, used it as their primary residence for decades as well for meetings of Unificationist clergy and for VIP visitors from around the world. True Father held regular 5:00 a.m. Hoon Dok Hwe prayer meetings in the conference hall as recently as 2010.
“I want all of you to take a walking tour just to get the East Garden feel,” Rev. Hyung Jin Moon told the staffers. The visitors included Dr. Michael Balcomb, the church vice-president, Rev. David Rendel, Rev. Phillip Schanker, Pastor Jaga Gavin, Rev. Moon Shik Kim, Koichi Nakai,” Doug Burton, and Susan Bouachri. Hyung Jin Nim brought the group to his private meditation hut behind the main building and told them: “This is the little house where I lived for six years! I used to come here to pray at 2:30 in the morning.” He and his spouse brought stones from local stream beds to create several stone designs and Zen-like gardens.
Rev. Moon mentioned that he wants his children to grow up with a proper sense of the distinction between public money and private money. “I tell my kids that their daddy and mommy don’t own a house here, because all of these buildings belong to the church. This is public property.”
Contributed by Douglas Burton in New York