I experienced a flash of insight a few days ago while looking at Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s picture (who Unificationists call True Father).
The gist of the revelation was that some 30+ years ago, I was in a position to facilitate and contribute towards the development of a Unificationist Blessing, Marriage, and Family Educational (UBMFE) providence.
If that was the case, you may wonder why am I only now proposing the development of such a providence rather than 30 years ago? (I was first active in the American branch of the Unification Church’s marriage and family ministry — known as the Blessed Family Department [USA BFD] — between 1987 and 1989 and then reconnected in 2004)
In the 1970s and 1980s, the USA BFD work consisted of supporting and administrating the Blessing providence. The providence of guiding Blessed couples and families mainly consisted of preparing couples for their three-day ceremony, counseling, and the publication of two Blessing-related magazines, which included True Parents’ speeches and some educational material, called The Blessing Quarterly and The Blessing Journal.
Family education was not pressing because most couples were just starting out and few had children. However, anyone connected to the USA BFD who was even remotely observant could see we were eventually going to need education material and programs that could minister to and provide life guidance for these Blessed couples and families.
Unfortunately, budgetary concerns and administrative decisions occurred that had a major impact on the USA BFD and the development of that kind of material. Around 1990, the USA BFD was completely shut down, an action that wasn’t reversed until 2004 (due to True Father’s prodding).
Upon reflection, I believe that from the 1990s going forward, the development of mature, professional and comprehensive educational material on the Blessing, Marriage and Family derived from the revelations of True Father and Rev. Hak Ja Han Moon (who Unificationists call True Mother; together they are called True Parents) would have occurred. Sadly, such efforts were stillborn and cut-off abruptly due to the USA BFD’s demise.
It was not a coincidence that during the time the USA BFD was dormant, the Coalition for Marriage, Family, and Couples Education, LLC (CMFCE) was founded by Diane Sollee in 1996. I believe through the CMFCE and the Smart Marriages Conferences they sponsored, God worked to encourage faithful professionals who were caring for beleaguered families to identify and make available to the greater public, ministries, clinical practices, and educational programs dedicated to enriching healthy marriages and saving marriages that were in trouble. The purpose of the CMFCE, found on their website, is below. These are worthy and laudable goals.
The coalition serves as an information exchange and clearinghouse to help couples locate marriage and relationship courses; to help professionals, clergy and lay educators locate training programs and resources; to connect those with an interest in the continuing development of the field; to support community initiatives, legislation and research; and to promote the effectiveness of marriage education programs and increase their availability in the community.
After the USA BFD was re-established in 2004, USA BFD leaders began to attend Smart Marriages conferences. I believe the reinstated USA BFD was supposed to study the programs and ministries that were showcased by the CMFCE and other organizations and programs dedicated to saving the institution of marriage which was under attack. As well, from 2004, the USA BFD should have initiated the development of a UBMFE providence. Unfortunately, the Blessing and Family Ministry’s (BFM – note the name change) family guidance providence relies heavily and almost exclusively on material that was spawned due to the efforts of what has come to be commonly known as the Marriage Education Movement
It is imperative for Blessing ministry leaders and Unificationist scholars to resuscitate, kickstart and rejuvenate the development of an educational system and ultimately a theology grounded in the revelation of True Parents. This theology should be derived from the words and guidance on the topic of Blessing, Marriage and Family Life given by True Father from 1960 until his passing and the words of True Mother from before 2012 until today. There is a historical precedent within the Unification Movement for the development of a theology of Blessing, Marriage, and Family based on True Parents’ revelations. That precedent can be found in the systematization of True Father’s revelation into what is now the theology of Divine Principle and the development of Unification Thought.
There are several reasons the time is right for the Unification Movement to launch a UBMFE providence. For one, the BFM recently created a Family Ministry Department, and the leaders of that department are grappling with how to initiate and shape their department from the ground up, including crafting their vision, mission, objectives, organizational structure, curriculum, and practices. In relation to this challenge, the leaders of that department are searching for scholarly works related to UBMFE, especially in couple care and parenting.
In addition, since True Mother is strongly pushing our Unification Movement to bestow the Blessing worldwide, certainly mature, and professional educational material that reflects a Unificationist worldview and that can care for and raise up these newly Blessed Central Families is urgently needed.
The Unification Movement is uniquely positioned to pioneer the establishment of a Blessing, Marriage, and Family providence. In contrast to what I would characterize as individual-focused content widely found in many religious traditions, the Blessing and marriage in the Unification tradition has been one of our core sacraments and pivotal traditions of the Unification Movement.
Words sharing insight into the sacredness and significance of Blessed Marriage and the way of life of a Blessed Family are interwoven throughout the speeches and sermons of True Parents. Those of us familiar with and dedicated to supporting the providence initiated by True Parents understand the Unification Movement is uniquely qualified and positioned to contribute to the transformation of the family into an ideal and sacred institution.
Let me mention an initiative I felt called to start in 2017 called BLESS-ED. BLESS-ED is a ground-breaking and trailblazing project. It is a first attempt to create a concept model for UBMFE-styled educational material which I hope will be followed by many future efforts to supplement, complement, and even totally remake this initial effort. Volunteers for this project are in the process of amassing a representative sample of True Parents’ words on the Blessing and Blessed Family Life that will eventually be posted publicly (we are two-thirds through the review of our targeted sources, though help is still needed to complete that effort).
As this is an unofficial grass roots project that is volunteer driven, where there is no budget, full-time staff, and volunteers lead busy lives, the organizers opted to utilize the venue of Hoon Dok Hae (HDH) as a platform when/where the review of speeches could occur. Speeches and anthologies are specifically assigned and designated, drawn from the large body of True Parents’ words that have been translated into English and are available in digital format, to avoid review duplication.
The collected depository of thematically-related quotes will then be examined utilizing the tools of metanalysis and eye-ball review. I envision that this analysis, to occur during phase 2 of the project, will be tackled by a panel of called and capable individuals. The goal of that phase is for the assembled panel to reach a consensus on the definition of the Blessing and to discover a model, system, and paradigm for UBMFE as well as systematizing and organizing the vast spectrum of detailed contents related to the life and course of a Blessed Central Family.
Phase 3 of the project will be to create a comprehensive educational curriculum and manual based on the output from the analysis phase that is intended to be crafted by a panel of qualified educators. In the future, I am hopeful that commentaries will be developed based on the completed BLESS-ED educational curriculum and manual that will convey possible applications and insights targeting specific challenges and circumstances that will be faced by succeeding generations of Blessed Central Families.
It would be ill-advised and premature for me to advance any hypothesis regarding what a Unificationist-inspired theology and/or educational system reflecting UBMFE would look like. This also applies to any attempt I might make at mapping what an educational providence in terms of theory, practice, and counsel for the daily life of Blessed Central Families would encompass.
Rather, based on the extensive research I undertook to write my Masters thesis, I am convinced the only way to responsibly discover, systematize, and promote content given by True Parents on the topic of Blessing, Marriage and Family will be through a rigorous, thorough, and extensive review of a broad and representative sample of True Parents’ words on that subject.
I encourage scholars who feel called to create and contribute UBMFE material to True Parents’ Blessing providence to do so now. I am convinced the world is in dire need of UBMFE material, especially since, as True Father said, the Blessed Central Family is the cornerstone of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Scholars and educators can submit their material directly to the BFM’s Family Department, or post their work on my website bcf-ed.org, or on my husband’s website, tparents.org. I also encourage readers to post comments to this article and engage in discussion. Whatever avenue you choose, please invest in, and contribute to this crucial work.♦
Alice E. H. Fleisher joined the Unification Movement in 1968, is an 1800 couple, and lives with her husband, Gary, in his hometown, where they are part of a three-generation tribe. She received her BA in 1970 in Interdisciplinary Creative Arts from San Francisco State College, a Religious Education Certificate from UTS in 1977 (upgraded to an MRE in 2017), and an MA in sociology in 2015 from the University of Colorado at Denver. She is currently a Doctor of Ministry candidate at UTS.
Please tell your husband, Gary, that tparents.org has been down for several days. It has been an invaluable resource for many Unificationists.
He’s working on it! Gary is now changing hosting services. You can currently reach the site using the following URL: t-parents.org. The original URL will also be usable soon.
Gary’s website is now up and running on the new hosting service. You can now use the familiar URL: tparents.org
Bravo, Alice! I heartily agree, and would hope to support this effort as time and tides allow.
Thank you, Dr. Hendricks. In a recent a communication with Gerry Servito, he sent me some documents you created in 2018 related to this issue (Blessed Central Family Course — volume 1 & 2). They are impressive. I am just saddened that they didn’t spark further investments from educators in our movement. I will at least forward that material to the current director of the BFM, Katherine Anglin. Any and all support you are able to give will be greatly appreciated!
That would be versions, not volumes. They have been sent!
I took a look at the material for Blessed Central Families that you produced and that Gary has posted on tparents.org (just a note: for a few more days, the URL is t-parents.org) under the name of the Hendricks Family. Wow, it is a treasure trove! I will mention this material to the USA BFM Family Department. Thank you for your unsung investment! I will try to promote it internally. I’ll also post some of your material on my website: bcf-ed.org.
Thank you for this proposal/call to action, Alice. It is much needed.
I want to comment on your (theory) that when UC’s Blessing ministry went dark in 1990 (and many other calamities were afoot), Heaven raised up Diane Sollee and her instantly popular Coalition, aka “Smart Marriages, Smart Families” events/website/daily marriage list.
A divorcee herself, social worker Diane could see how the breakdown of marriage in the US and elsewhere was eating away at our good civilizations. She was lively and fun to be around, and poured her heart into Smart Marriages. See below for lessons I think she taught. (I wrote about Diane for most of her public life).
But I wanted to note that, based on my memory, Smart Marriages came to an abrupt halt a decade ago, probably for two reasons.
First, Diane was truly disappointed when the Bush Administration folks chose another group (Mary Myrick’s Public Strategies in Oklahoma) to win the federal funding and position of coordinator of national marriage enrichment programs. Losing those millions of dollars and prestige post (to a never-married woman) after literally fighting tooth and nail to put marriage restoration on the US map was a tough pill for Diane to swallow.
Secondly, I believe Diane was at least agnostic, if not favorable, to gay marriage, so Smart Marriages programs and speakers included those in same-sex relationships in its later years.
Perhaps these two reasons are related.
In any case, the last Smart Marriages conference was held in 2010.
In 2012, Diane retired to Jacksonville Beach, FL, in 2012 with her late soulmate (Mark Swann) of 28 years, and Smart Marriages was left to limp along…. Its webpage is still alive, but I don’t see much of anything new there.
When Smart Marriages stopped, another group, known as NARME, stepped up to try and fill the huge void that was left.
Theirs was a valiant quest, but I am imagining most readers here would not recognize NARME’s name or activities. On the upside, NARME’s leadership is filled with well-known marriage enrichment experts, many of whom have been quoted in The Washington Times for years.
For me, the lesson(s) learned from Smart Marriages were that:
First, Diane gathered a wealth of highly relatable speakers, especially Pastor Mark Gungor and his “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” and John Gray of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” Diane knew that husbands/men would not respond to dry materials or speakers that harangued men (or women). The Smart Marriages conferences were fun and entertaining and impactful.
Second, Diane’s almost-daily Listserv of notes and links about marriage, problems, solutions, quotes, etc., to subscribers was a must-read and a vital resource to some 5,000 people, maybe more. I think this Listserv has (miraculously) been archived at http://www.smartmarriages.com/index.html so our UC leaders can see how it worked and see if there’s an adaptation for today.
Third, and this is my opinion, Diane succeeded in making strengthening marriage matter, both for the larger social-economic/psychological reasons, but also because it is an absolute source of happiness for men, women, children, and society.
In my view, our previous BFD materials attempted to put “joy” into marriage, but there were (too) many cross-currents to “marry for others’ sake (at the sacrifice of your own life)” and endure this suffering, quietly, as best as you can, for the rest of your life, etc.
When Second Generation youth cannot see (many) happy marriages, or even hear about happy marriages, they are unlikely to pursue such a course.
Diane Sollee knew promoting marriage was all about the Joy, and I can still hear the sounds of 10,000 people laughing at her conventions. Going forward, with our magnificent opportunity, I would seek to follow her example and make “joy” a priority in all things.
I agree with your assessment and analysis of the Smart Marriages program. I obviously looked at the CMFCE website to figure out its current status as I had also heard that it had been abruptly discontinued. I was surprised that there was still a website (which I quoted from) but could not confirm anything about its past drama.
Well, anyway, one dream that I have (which I didn’t write about) is to launch a Unificationist version of the Smart Marriages Conferences. However, for that to happen there has to be a ground swell of UBMFE ministries and initiatives and unfortunately we are nowhere near that point! Still, your plea that UBMFE providence need to to promote the Joy and the Good News of the Blessing is right on! Thank you for your post!
Thank you, Alice, for this essay. I appreciate that you speak of the Providence of the Blessing. Indeed, our theology of the Blessing is connected to an eschatological perspective. We have a marriage ceremony and we build “true families” or “families of true love” which are meant
(1) to restore the original covenant of God with the first ancestors,
(2) to remove original sin and bring complete salvation,
(3) to establish world peace.
Therefore, besides the usual tools which any other religious community needs to guide its couples and families, we need something essentially Unificationist.
Regarding the theology, I think it is already there, and we all know it. It is already very impressive. Maybe there was too much theology and not enough pastoral care in our movement.
I wish you could have mentioned a major turning point which gradually took place throughout the 1990s. This turning point was decisive but there were some setbacks.
a) In 1994, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of HSA-UWC, True Parents declared that “My Pledge” was now obsolete, and we would recite “The Family Pledge” instead. I attended the events of May 1, 1994 and this is a major highlight in my life of faith. It took a few years to arrive at the Family Pledge and I consider the book True Family Values (Pak and Wilson), the best theology.
b) Before 1994 and after this turning point, Father gave major guidance on “four realms of heart and three great kingships” and on “Absolute Sex”. Much of this material was received as key revelations. How much could we grasp these new concepts?
c) True Parents made a world tour to spread this teaching
d) The FFWPU was inaugurated in 1996 in Washington, D.C.
e) The Blessing became global throughout the 1990s (30,000, 360,000 and then millions of couples)
f) The hometown providence became central from July 1, 1991
Our True Parents certainly had great hopes that we would have a worldwide breakthrough during the 1990s, but we stumbled on major obstacles: the hometown providence did not work well, and the matter of Hyo Jin Nim’s broken blessing created much confusion, which was poorly dealt with.
Today, the Unification Movement is desperate to fulfill its providential role and to realize the promise of Cheonilguk. At the same time, we have become more humble, and a bit realistic. We have to avoid falling into skeptical or cynical attitudes, and we need to rediscover the grandeur of our teachings, but with more humility. Usually, a religious community which is in our situation tries to go through deep repentance and self-reflection. I may be wrong, but I sometimes feel that we need to “return to tears” as Father asked us once (“The Return to Tears,” October 16, 1977).
Thank you for your comments. I agree with you that the events you mentioned were providential and significant. I believe that it was unfortunate the the USA BFD was dark during those years, which probably resulted in a missed opportunity to develop and nurture a Unificationist Blessing, Marriage, and Family Educational (UBMFE) providence at that time.
One current repercussion, at least from my perspective, is that since our family-level UBMFE providence is weak or almost non-existent, current efforts being made to develop a Tribal Messiah providence for and by Blessed Families are on a shaky foundation and in danger of toppling or at least being ineffective.
I really tried to develop a BFD educational ministry utilizing marriage education movement material back in the day, but this eventually collapsed — people voted with their feet and stopped attending the programs I was sponsoring and utilizing the books and videos I had collected. I even tried to hold small group meetings where words from the book “Blessing and Ideal Family” were read and discussed. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now see that these responses were totally inadequate because they did not address the urgent need for a comprehensive and mature UBMFE providence. Eventually, my evolution led me to the establishment of my website, bcf-ed.org, the BLESS-ED Project, and this AU Blog post.
Identifying a weakness or flaw is only the first step. The real challenge, at least to me, is to respond to those weaknesses or flaws by developing programs and ministries that can fix them, or at least improve the situation. Which is why I was driven to write this article. I look forward to what you will develop related to this pressing need in the FFWPU Blessing Providence!
Thank you for opening the discussion on the most important topic on how to facilitate the appearance of ideal families and secure a united world of happiness and peaceful cooperation.
300 years before Jesus, Alexander the Great had the vision to establish, under his authority, a large community of international families. However, the happiness of these couples was not his first concern, and these marriages didn’t last very long. In fact, Alexander’s aim was mainly to breed a new population of loyal soldiers to secure and possibly extend his empire.
With the fullness of times, Rev. Moon had the dream of international happy families that would establish God’s kingdom on earth. He thought this would take place through the 5-step process: Theological training, mandatory random matching, holy wine, indemnity stick and the three-day ceremony.
Counseling for these families consisted in over-repeating UM theological dogmas, mainly about “positions” as Adam and Eve or Cain and Abel, and reminding them of all the inherent suffering and difficulties of all past providential courses. The solution was to urge Blessed couples to sacrifice more for restoration’s sake and forget their petty problems. That would supposedly solve all difficulties between them.
Has this been efficient? The results are alas surely not better than those outside the Unificationist realm, and possibly much worse.
History has sadly shown that holding a mere theological vision wasn’t enough. It didn’t work well within the True Family nor among other Unificationist couples. Statistics would be so appalling that no one dares to figure them out. For example how many couples from the 8,000 couples blessing in 1982 are still together? Probably less than 40%…. And how many of these survivors presently keep trusting Unificationist initiatives?
My understanding is that it could be rather beneficial to first take stock of the actual situation and understand why things didn’t work, in order not to repeat the same errors.
One can notice that many marriage counselors have themselves been through broken marriages and their own experience truly allows them to better help other couples.
Thank you for this sincere and thoughtful article. I missed this somehow.
A few thoughts. We are headed to a strategic planning meeting next weekend for a ministry we helped found in 1995, Shehaqua Family Camps, or just Shehaqua now. We have not run it actively since 2005, but have remained involved, my wife more than me. Coming to this meeting are young couples, some who are or were leaders in the UM and the BFD. On the agenda? How to continue to grow? How to plan for and execute year-round programs and more? I was not planning to attend, but my wife really wants to. It should be educational.
When we began, we had a general idea, but no clear plan. We just began. Early on I prayed about direction and I received, “I am with you.” Inspiring, but not that helpful at the moment. I realized that God would support my initiatives, whatever they might be. When I prayed more specifically about money and people, I received, “everything you need is already in place, you need to see it.” Hmmm, it was not clear to me at all but eventually I realized with that place, Shehauqa at Hickory Run State Park, we a clear and perfect answer. We found other places as well. We asked Noah Ross and a few others we knew to teach DP to our kids and we created programs that met the needs to young, growing families with jobs and multiple responsibilities. We did that through creating a culture of joy and fun in working together. That culture included making our programs predicable and reliable, inexpensive and requiring adults to attend and volunteer. We had money, people and had fun doing so, though it was really hard work. Finally, we insisted on evaluating every program every year on what worked and what did not. We created a culture or organizational learning. People can learn through their own personal experiences, but organizations, large or small, do not unless processes are created to do so.
The best resource I found was Managing the Non-profit Organization: Principles and Practices by Peter F. Drucker. I wrote an article about all this on the AU Blog, “Converting Good Intentions Into Results.” You might refer to it.
So I would say, follow your heart and conscience, God can and will guide you. You have a wonderful family and are part of a great community in Denver. Pray, then act, don’t worry about having the perfect plan or even the resources. They will come. Gather a few comrades, 3 or 4 and just start. Don’t try to solve every problem or issue, start with something that calls you and a few others. Don’t wait for permission or lack of funds. Every dollar you need is already in the bank accounts of others and the people you need are in the wings. They will find you. Good luck and blessings.
When I wrote about pro-marriage initiatives in the 2000s, social science backed me up. (Marriage was associated with happiness, good health and financial wealth).
The termites devouring marriage have been busy.
This is what young people now see and hear: stay single, be happy, and live longer…
Blessed marriages must be happy (or become happy), as we won’t be able to talk the talk if we can’t walk the walk.
Happiness (and joy) are not the same (happiness is often situational),but joy is the purpose of life, and Blessed Couples should exhibit and express joy.
Relationship skills and education can help everyone come into this light.
“For example how many couples from the 8,000 couples blessing in 1982 are still together? Probably less than 40%…. And how many of these survivors presently keep trusting Unificationist initiatives?”
Hmmm. Maybe you think only 3,200 of our Blessing group survived? I think it’s more like 80-85%.
I, too, was once concerned about our marriage outcomes. My husband and I were BFD reps, so we saw a lot of struggling couples. I worried that they were a majority…
Our Washington, DC-area directory of families had 350 names. I knew of the marital status of about 200 of those families.
So, I went through those names and categorized couples into “Great/good, “ “Ok,” and “Poor/Divorced/divorcing.”
To my happy surprise, the number of couples in the Great/good category were the strong majority. The next biggest category was “OK,” e.g., doing fine.
The number of divorced couples was around 10, and the number of Poor/divorcing was also around 10. That is 20 couples or 10%. This was 1st and 2nd Gen.
So, I had to repent for my lack of faith in my brothers and sisters to stay united with God and work through their challenges.
As BFD reps, we played a (small) role in helping several dozens of couples with unhappy marriages pull themselves into happy marriages… or at least stay in the hunt for happiness.
When I see many of those couples today, I know their core challenges were not magically removed, but they adapted, changed and reduced the power of challenges to hurt their hearts. Happiness emerged, partly because they got victories — they saved their Blessing.
Going forward, I totally agree with you that the UC should talk about its Blessing statistics. We need to have empirical evidence that Blessings are Blessings. (We just celebrated our 40th anniversary… what a cosmic milestone …)
I also love Rob Sayre’s advice to just advance and trust God. Shehaqua families are known as happy families.
Alice, your words are timely, and I’m glad to read all the comments: you can see the range of concerns as we bring Blessing Education to a new, higher level. We shouldn’t pussyfoot around the challenges embedded in marriage (e.g., two selfish people learn to become two selfless people who both know how to live for the sake of others).
“Marriage is a people-growing institution” is one of my marriage expert’s favorite mantras.
Thank you Cheryl for providing the evidence.
Just like you, I think that we do need statistics, and real ones. We haven’t made such statistics in our French movement, which is rather small.
True, a certain number of couples have become distant with the movement, in recent years, so technically, they don’t consider themselves as Unificationist and may have broken from True Parents quite strongly, which is very sad, indeed. Yet, among them, very, very few have divorced. They keep the main gift of God and True Parents. It’s a major source of deep meditation for me. Some of these couples who left our movement remain quite dignified and live a very decent life. Thanks to God, they keep the qualities for which God had called them initially. God has not kept them close to True Parents, but evil forces have not ruined their lives either.
Besides statistics, we would need Unificationist novels. We would need a great piece of literature about our Blessed families.
We would need the Chronicles of the Blessed Families, as a work of art, of a whole generation of people who have met the True Parents, and the families that they established. We would need a powerful novel about the difficult path of True Love, with a strong sense of catharsis, because no one is to blame, but we all should repent. In that novel, nothing should be hidden, everything that took place should be recorded, included our major sins, just like in the Holy Bible; the Old Testament is a long book of confession after all. We know all the turpitudes of Solomon and of the kings, and all the mistakes of God’s chosen people. The Holy Bible is also a book of scandals, and they are recorded just as they took place. But the Bible also makes clear that human beings are searching for goodness from their deepest heart. And this is what matters.
In France, the rate of divorce is definitely under 10%. I would say that once people have gone through the 40-day separation and 3-day ceremony, the union is likely to remain strong. Now, it is true that, in some households, the relationship can be sour and bitter between husband and wife, or among parents and children also, but I observe more dignity, nevertheless, than in the outside world. People are emotionally separated and suffer a lot. It is true, but they keep the desire to one day repair things.
You wrote: “In France, the rate of divorce is definitely under 10%. I would say that once people have gone through the 40-day separation and 3-day ceremony, the union is likely to remain strong.”
May I add one remark about what could possibly explain, and what has certainly been an important contributing factor to that pretty good score?
As you know, for centuries the Catholic Church had even more impressive figures in terms of low divorce rate. Why was it possible? Actually divorce was a sacrament which first could never be broken, and which later could, in very exceptionally circumstances, be dissolved in rare specific situations. Furthermore, since Catholic divorcees could never again be allowed to receive Holy Communion, and since believers remained worried about their salvation, they would of course prefer to renounce divorce, and temporarily endure hell on earth for a few more years to somehow later safely reach eternal bliss in the other world.
Similar doctrinal imperatives might also explain the low level of divorce among the Latter Day Saints (Mormons).
In the Unification Church, divorce and broken Blessings were taught as being worse than the original fall. “Failed” couples would be condemned to the torments of hell for a very long time; by their fault, both their ancestors and descendants would unnecessarily go through terrible suffering, and Satan himself would definitely be forgiven long before they would themselves possibly become redeemable.
God must be relieved this long forgotten teaching from the 1980s is now obsolete, even though it has undeniably been an efficient factor to dissuade unhappy Unificationist couples from divorcing. Will such obsolete Unificationist teachings be recorded?
The fact is that, whether in the USA or France, and probably in Japan and Korea, and despite many real problems in our community that no one denies, the rate of divorce among Unificationists is much less than in the outside world, whether the couple remains Unificationist or not. As I suggested, God called conscientious people to serve True Parents. Even if they can’t follow the True Parents anymore, they remain conscientious. It cannot be explained by their previous religious background only. A righteous person remains righteous and a loving person remains loving.
Thank you, Cheryl, for your reply.
If men are from Mars and women from Venus, we are then blessed aliens having presently the cosmic opportunity to meet on earth our sweetheart and happily live together…
My wife and I have really both enjoyed reading John Gray’s books; Mark Gungor is so lively and humorous when sharing deep insights that we also happily keep benefiting from his helpful advice on the internet.
Among many others, these two outstanding marriage counselors have truly precious content to share and nurture couples on their growing experience together.
I salute your dynamic investment and successful realizations in lovingly caring for families around you.
80% to 85% of happy families within a community is an absolutely remarkable achievement that unavoidably must have a positive contagious impact on society. It must also definitely have brought unprecedented growth and a much more effective development of this community than any other preaching and any other dutiful witnessing campaign.
I am definitely not a seer and, having no accurate statistics, I can only rely on my sometimes poor intuition, always with a question mark. My nature is rather quite optimistic and I sincerely hope being for once very pessimistic concerning my 101% subjective estimation about God knows how many Blessed couples are divorced or emotionally separated.
Unificationist numbers have often been symbolic or imaginary. Transparency in membership or financial matters has not been our strongest point.
Numbers however are one thing, but most important is for me to understand what they really express and, with God’s help, to possibly find better ways to have them represent a happiest reality.
So regular questioning and positive checking based on reliable statistics remains on my list of tools for added personal improvement and effective help of others.
Thank you for your response and I opened the discussion because it is necessary and timely.
I take a different perspective than the following from your comment:
“With the fullness of time, Rev. Moon had the dream of international happy families that would establish God’s kingdom on earth. He thought this would take place through the 5-step process: Theological training, mandatory random matching, holy wine, indemnity stick, and the three-day ceremony.”
“Counseling for these families consisted in over-repeating UM theological dogmas, mainly about ‘positions’ as Adam and Eve or Cain and Abel, and reminding them of all the inherent suffering and difficulties of all past providential courses. The solution was to urge Blessed couples to sacrifice more for restoration’s sake and forget their petty problems. That would supposedly solve all difficulties between them.”
One reason I am doing the BLESS-ED Project is based on the intuition and assumption that True Parents continued and continue to give internal guidance as well as directions to Blessed Families throughout their lives — it was their way and came/comes from their Parental Hearts. The problem I saw/see is that those words are “hidden” within the multiple speeches, sermons, and guidance given by the True Parents (thus out of sight/out of mind). Because those words are often “buried” in a lot of other texts it’s hard to isolate them and make them available for families and educators to ponder.
So the first phase of BLESS-ED is to track down as much of that family life guidance as my team can find and consolidate those words into a centralized repository. I suspect that we’re going to find (and are finding!) material that goes beyond the default of urging couples to sacrifice. Unfortunately, I believe the “hidden words” scenario has set the stage for the current lack of a Unificationist Blessing, Marriage, and Family Education Ministry, either through the BFM or from innovative thinkers and educators like yourself! If you’re willing, you could join our team and participate in that treasure hunt! My email is hyperlinked in my byline at top!
This Applied Unificationism blog seems to be an attractive haven for thoughtful reflections from active or lay Unificationists like myself.
The spiritual fire and burning love from the early days, fueled with yesterdays’ promises of enchanted tomorrows, have long mobilized the best of our natures in unforgettable heroic sacrifices for what appeared then to be our highest call ever.
The present now, as yesterday’s tomorrow, might look quite different from what we had earlier imagined and so intensely expected.
Has our original search for transparency, for consistency and for joyful workable set exemplarity been fully met? Not completely or certainly not the way we had been expecting.
For we all have been longing to see the embodiment of one ideal family who would set the highest exemplified standard for humankind to look up to for nurturing inspiration, applicable guidance and genuine living example. Erecting white marble temples and statues won’t ever fill that need.
So I understand you feel now in your deep heart this urgent call to fill the existing gap. The term facilitator corresponds perfectly to that mission you have decided to undertake. I wish you the very best in coordinating and compiling efficient inspirations coming from various sources which have been validated by experience.
Rob Sayre’s remarkable achievements through Shehaqua deserve to be acknowledged and promoted as a workable model of applied family values.
Cheryl’s precious experience will also perfectly fit within your project in providing other unavoidable material coming from renowned effective marriage counselors.
Wonderful comment! I am inspired by your testimony and the course you, your wife and the Shehaqua organizing community and participants went through.
I wonder if Noah Ross and the other educators who were part of the Shehaqua experience could write up the material they created and submit those documents to the Family Department of the USA BFM? That department is actively looking for parenting and educational material that can be used to support Blessed Central Families at this time. It could prove one way to extend the greatness and value of the experience you created and were a part of.
Along the same lines, if you could write up something about the content and process development of the culture of joy and fun that was part of that experience and submit that documentation to the Family Department of the BFM as well, that would be extremely valuable. I would like to extend this suggestion to all organizers to successful Unificationists family camps nationwide — we probably have a good number of potential educational and family care resources “out there” that should be tapped into!
In terms of writing, I have written the above referenced article and this one on this blog.
For our own programs, we developed a wiki which might be useful to others. It has quite a bit of educational content, for our new teachers. They are often moms with desire, but little experience. They do quite well. There is a wiki on that site, ShehaquaFamily.org. We train new people and people for new roles every year. I have advised people for years to just attend to learn more.
I am not convinced that information is the answer. One of the challenges the UM faces is it has no process for sharing ideas and innovations that work and more importantly ones that do not. The strategic direction comes from one source and a model, and is to be applied to any and all situations. If you were to ask the leaders of the Denver church to write up what makes them successful, I think they would be hard pressed to do so. I would advise people to just go there and spend a week. They would learn a lot, I am sure. Shehaqua is like a music score, but with different musicians each year and the score has evolved some, hopefully improved.
One suggestion I made numerous times was to revive the Educator’s Conference held each year at Barrytown. It was a program where people leaned from each other. This was discontinued by In-Jin Nim during her brief leadership time. We gained a lot and shared what we were doing. When I have been asked what would benefit the movement, this is it.
Noah is involved in teaching others how to teach in the NY area, so the BFD can certainly find him. He still attends Shehaqua sometimes with his grandchildren.
One challenge the UM faces, and I have no clear ideas on how to resolve it, is that it has no process or way to assess what has worked and what has not. The strategic direction comes from one source and that is seen as divine or higher value and that everyone should do the same thing. Many people do not fit in and successes and failures are not shared. I don’t have any answers for this honestly. We advise Shehaqua and are involved in many local activities as well as our extended family.
What a great statement: Two selfish people learn to become two selfless people who both know how to live for the sake of others!
I hear you loud and clear. You are absolutely correct that “One challenge the UM faces, and I have no clear ideas on how to resolve it, is that it has no process or way to assess what has worked and what has not. The strategic direction comes from one source and that is seen as divine or higher value and that everyone should do the same thing. Many people do not fit in and successes and failures are not shared. I don’t have any answers for this honestly. We advise Shehaqua and are involved in many local activities as well as our extended family.”
I think that reality is one reason why I was “pushed and cajoled by Heaven” into creating this article. I have passed your comments, concerns, and suggestions onto the newly formed Family Department leaders. The BFM (and our UM in general) has a very poor track record related to family care because, frankly, they didn’t really care enough, at least to the extent that they were galvanized into putting real, on-the-ground effective initiatives in place! Their efforts and energies have been narrowly focused on getting people to the Blessing, with aftercare an underinvested afterthought.
Where the real productive activity has been happening is at the grassroots, where the need is in-your-face, obvious, and not to be ignored. One reason I started BLESS-ED, which is a grassroots initiative, is after my long trail of ineffective attempts to address the need for family care as part of my BFM ministry work in my local church — Colorado Family Church. But that state of affairs needs to change and one thing I am committed to doing my part is to keep the issue on the front-burner as part as a response to my calling to be a facilitator, if you will. And that’s my two cents at the moment!
Like High Noon and Shehaqua, which is smaller in scope, you to can fund your own vision. You might be surprised by the support you receive. People are looking for people who take action and responsibility.
Your comment is insightful and correct. The reality is that I have funded a great majority of my projects, as in the case of my website, bcf-ed.org, and also my husband’s website, tparents.org, is funded and maintained solely by the Gary Fleisher family. It is our offering and we keep it that way.
In response to your comment: “You might be surprised by the support you receive. People are looking for people who take action and responsibility.”
With BLESS-ED, I realized at the outset that this initiative was not something I or the Fleisher family could do within the timeframe that Heaven has asked me to keep (finish the whole project by the end of 2025), and so I designed it as a grassroots project, dependent on called and capable volunteers. My constant endeavors to recruit volunteers tend to fall in line with a phenomena that Simon Sinek referred to in his 2009 TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”. In his presentation, Sinek talked about the “Law Of the Diffusion of Innovation” which refers to the phenomena (I don’t know if it is a scientifically and statistically proven phenomena but it sure is a catchy concept and term) where 2½% of a population are innovators, and 13% are Early Adopters (people filling those positions are always in flux, determined by the project or product that are being envisioned). If a product or project is going to spread to, be utilized by, or purchased by the larger population (visualize a bell curve) of the early (34%) and late (34%) majority, the innovators have to gain 15%-18% “market penetration” — aka, leading to the Tipping Point. That is not so easy!
I have found amazing and precious volunteers who can “see” the vision and purpose, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Still, I persevere because of God, True Parents, and Gary is a great cheerleader and encourager! I also hold onto the promise that if Heaven is asking me to facilitate and contribute to the UBMFE providence it must be possible and doable. I am striving hard to advance with the BLESS-ED project as a concept model of my calling — in line with Sinek’s insight that “what you do proves what you believe”. I also hold onto a piece of internal guidance shared by Mamasan Choi many years ago. At that time, she said that the tradition of the True Parent’s ministry that sets it apart, is its ability to pioneer and lead the way in God’s providence by accomplishing and substantiating the ideals and purposes of Heaven, step-by-step. And so I persevere keeping that guidance in mind. I encourage you in your endeavors and callings as well!
I am a little late to this discussion. High Noon is also a valuable resource to prepare people for Blessed marriage and to sustain happy marriages after the Blessing. Core of the Universe: Gods vision for love, sex and intimacy has a lot of insights from True Parents’ speeches.
Also Maarten Meijer’s book The Marriage Blessing has real Unification couple’s accounts of their experiences creating beautiful marriages & families.
Yes, High Noon is a great resource and self-funded.
Thank you for your comment. I will pass the information you wrote about onto the leadership of the USA BFM Family Department.
Thank you for your poetic and insightful comment! I agree that the term “facilitating” aptly describes my calling. This term acknowledges that no one person can possibly provide all the material needed to inspire and serve Heaven and Blessed Central Families. It also acknowledges that God has been and is currently calling many of His/Her children to contribute to the family level of the providence. In addition it acknowledges that in many cases those efforts are uncoordinated and thus they are not currently interfacing with efforts of others who have responded to that same calling (so they are not able to help build momentum and contribute to building a vast reservoir of resources). As well, it has been challenging to find a coordinating point within the ministry tasked with overseeing the arena of matching and Blessing. Hopefully, that last point is changing.
Cheryl is a treasure, I agree. She is actually part of my BLESS-ED collecting quotes team and greatly admired and appreciated! We’ve been in the trenches together for many years.