On the cold and frigid morning of Friday, February 1, in sub zero degree temperatures, Family Federation pastors and Christian ministers gathered in Chicago, IL to attend the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) 2019 Summit. As more guests arrived, the weather grew warmer with the heartfelt attitude of the clergy. A total of 100 ACLC representatives, coordinators and co-chairs from around the country gathered to welcome the new ACLC National Co-Chairmen and to define the vision for ACLC as we advance toward 2020 and beyond.
Dr. Ki Hoon Kim and Dr. Luonne Rouse were inaugurated as ACLC’s new Co-Chairmen at the Hilton Chicago Oak Lawn Hotel the day following the Summit at the True Family Values Award Banquet on February 2. It was very fitting for the ACLC Summit ‘Launch of a New Era’ to be held in Chicago because of the long and consistent history of working together with Christian churches. After years of work led by Dr. Kim, Dr. Michael Jenkins, Pastor T.L. Barrett and many others, a rich foundation has been laid, which has allowed Chicago to become a great model for expanding ACLC activities.
The Summit began with a greeting from Dr. Kim followed by a moving message. He emphasized three points for success: unity, consistency and ownership. Dr. Rouse shared his inspiring vision for ACLC moving forward. Through his words, it was clear that America can truly build a solid bridge between Family Federation and the foundation of Christianity in America.
Among the noted presenters were Rev. Mark Abernathy of the Connect Point Christian Center in Georgia, who spoke on Tribal Messiahship and giving the Marriage Blessing to whole congregations; Rev. David Rendel, Midwest Subregional Director, who talked about the “Chicago Model” of 20 plus years of monthly prayer breakfasts and annual True Family Values banquets; Min. Reiko Jenkins, the National Coordinator for ACLC Women In Ministry, who spoke on the topic of the role of women.
The Summit continued with moving testimonies, vision casting, discussions, and sessions of questions and answers with all the participants. That evening, Dr. Kim invited all the ACLC representatives for sightseeing through Chicago. Despite the cold, they visited the spot near the Shedd Aquarium, where True Parents loved to see the Chicago famous skyline.
The ACLC Summit concluded with great excitement for the coming year. Everyone is inspired to work together to share the Marriage Blessing and the message of True Parents with Christianity and come together in front of Heavenly Parent and True Parents as the brothers and sisters we are.
“While returning home after the weekend in Chicago, I couldn’t help but reminisce of the past few days at the ACLC Summit. I think everyone left feeling uplifted and inspired. My heart was elated with every testimony given. It was so nice to have Bishop Edgerton and his family there. I’m thankful for the opportunity to emcee during the sessions on Friday. It was perfect timing to have the ACLC Summit and to have it in Chicago. It really motivated the local clergy.” –Dr. Tanya Edwards, NYC Family Church Pastor
“When Dr. Kim shared the heart and direction of True Mother with us, it made me feel how privileged we are to work together with him and inherit the heart of attendance he has toward True Parents. Seeing and hearing about the history of the development of True Family Values and ACLC in Chicago, helped provide a deeper understanding of True Parents’ desire and hope for Christianity in America. I liked the core principles that were used to build; UNITY, CONSISTENCY AND OWNERSHIP. Unity and ownership are two areas I plan to work on more this year. If we don’t unite the spirit world cannot work with us. If we don’t take responsibility for the mistakes and failures on an individual level, we cannot achieve victory. Dr. Luonne Rouse is truly the right person for this. He has a good understanding of our traditions and values as well as a strong desire to see Christians and Unificationists tear down the walls and misconceptions between them and develop trust and mutual respect for both traditions. His unity and cooperation with Dr. Kim will help us achieve the culture of heart and sincerity that True Parents desire. I was surprised when Dr. Rouse asked the Unificationists to stand and recite the Pledge while the Christian clergy listened. He showed great respect for our traditions while reminding us of what we stand for, to live it and be proud of it. We need to be transparent and proud of our traditions as well as acknowledge Christian traditions. During the break, I sat down with a Christian pastor. We could share so openly even though we had never met before. Although we may use different terms to express our experiences, we found that our faith and trials were very similar. He shared that he and his wife had received the Blessing and were teaching their congregation. When they first began to share about True Parents and the Divine Principle, some of the members of his church left. However, the ones who stayed are studying and getting stronger in their faith. He had been waiting for Jesus to return his whole life and then he found True Parents. Seeing the sincerity and faith of the Christian pastors and their desire to fulfill the vision of True Parents, as well as their willingness to work together, inspired and empowered me. America has been blessed and have given so much for True Parents. Now, it is our time to fulfill our responsibility and return the blessing multifold. I pray that this New Era can usher in the victorious foundation of substance to allow True Parents to stand in their rightful place before this country and the world.” –Kathaleen Sato, NJ ACLC Co-Chair
“The experience I had was beyond words. Thank you, Rev. Rendel for allowing me to attend an amazing ACLC conference: “Launch of a New Era.” The Christian pastors’ testimonies testifying True Parents and their stories of salvation through the Blessing was beyond my imagination. I had truly witnessed the launch of a new era. Together with the Christian brothers and sisters I felt complete joy and complete freedom in my spirit. I understood the reason why True Parents are supposed to be welcomed by Christianity.” –Chizuru Quigley
“It was such a blessing to join the ACLC Summit with ACLC Co-Chairs and coordinators from all over the country to celebrate the Launch of a New Era. I was surprised to see so many leaders sign up last minute. I felt spirit world working behind it. I also felt Dr. Kim’s heart to welcome the New Era for ACLC. We have been visiting Christian Churches for such a long time, and we were good at becoming friends, but we really need to understand what Heaven is expecting us to do through our ACLC work. It was really a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the new mission of Dr. Kim and Dr. Rouse as Co-Chairmen of ACLC. I felt the atmosphere of unity and excitement in the room more than before. We should be ready to harvest substantial results in front of Heavenly Parent and True Parents this year.” –Kunihiro Sagisaka, Chicago Family Church Pastor