The Grand Ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel, where Father and Mother Moon spoke many times over the years, was the setting for a Marriage Blessing officiated and conducted by clergy on Saturday, August 18, 2018. Faith leaders from 10 states participated, and congregants from multiple churches in the New York metro area joined in a joyful celebration uplifting marriage and family. Concelebrant clergy presided over the 430 married couples who received the Marriage Blessing.
“The love of Jesus has no boundaries and it is with that understanding we believe God loves all beyond race, religion or national background. With that heart we have called upon esteemed leaders of important faith communities to share with us a prayerful display of unity. Water is a symbol of purity and life. Now the faith leaders will come forward and prayerfully pour the water from their vases into a common vessel with the prayer that “All May Be One.”
With these words Archbishop George Augustus Stallings Jr., national Co-Chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), and Master of Ceremonies, introduced an Interfaith Ceremony of Unity. Seven representatives of the Abrahamic faiths poured water into the common vessel, symbolizing the coming together of faith communities. Imam Dawud Assad (Islam), Rabbi Moise Abraham (Orthodox Judaism), Iman Souleiman Konate Masji Al-Aqsa, Father Lawrence Ventline, (Roman Catholic), Rev. Rene Bellenas (Protestant), and Dr. Tanya Edwards (Pentecostal Family Church) were among those participating in a fitting opening to a Marriage Blessing celebrating oneness in God’s love.
Imam Dawud Assad shared, “My wife and I were deeply moved by Mother Moon and the sacrifices she makes to bring the Marriage Blessing to all religions. As a Muslim, I went to the Middle East many times with ACLC. Father and Mother Moon come from a Christian heritage but they, as True Parents, have become the loving parents of all faiths as their family. As the founder of the United States Association of Mosques I want to say how deeply moved I am for the love that Father and Mother Moon show for the family and for all faiths, especially Islam. When I participated in the Water ceremony I could feel the deep spirituality and meaning that we are all joining together as one—the water becomes one and our hearts become one.”
Archbishop Stallings continued, “This Blessing was begun in 1960 by Father and Mother Moon and has now expanded to hundreds of millions and all major faiths globally. As couples we are not only representing our own family but symbolically representing all the faiths and races of humanity. Look around you—what a beautiful sight to see all of God’s children. Turn to your neighbor on both sides and say God loves you and is going to give you and your family a big blessing today. This blessing started with Father and Mother Moon, standing as the Only Begotten Son and the Only Begotten Daughter of God. You are now to become the first Only Begotten Son and Only Begotten Daughter in your family and church to stand as a blessed couple with no spot or wrinkle in your family and community.
“The Marriage Blessing that we are about to receive today is a deeply meaningful anointing and blessing from heaven. My wife and hundreds of thousands of faith leaders have received this blessing and I want you to know that my marriage and my family has truly been blessed and filled with Life, Love and Lineage.”
Dr. Michael Jenkins, Co-Chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) was introduced to give a brief presentation called “Understanding the Blessing” It explained the profound meaning of the Marriage Blessing given by Heavenly Parent through True Father and True Mother, encouraging all those present to bring it to their faith communities. He highlighted the significance of a couple sharing one cup, representing their eternal oneness in God’s sight, and the biblical emphasis on purity and faithfulness. He explained the Holy Wine ceremony reverses the condition of disobedience of Adam and Eve and engrafts the couple into Heaven’s lineage and the Marriage Blessing seals the couple by extending the grace of Jesus from the Individual to the Couple. He emphasized True Parents, Father and Mother Moon were anointed by God to bring this grace to the family. Dr. Jenkins concluded by asking all participants to be “true parents” to their family, church, community, nation and world.
Local blessed couples of all races served as ceremony attendants, leading the way for ACLC concelebrant clergy and the officiating couple, Rev. Michael and Min. Zena Sykes, to enter the ballroom. Rev. and Min. Sykes were blessed in marriage in 2014 and have conducted Marriage Blessing Ceremonies in their United Missionary Baptist Church in East Orange, NJ.
Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, Regional Chairman of Family Federation North America, gave welcoming remarks, reminding everyone of Heavenly Parent’s delight at seeing Adam and Eve as children, anticipating their future in love. He continued, “Though now we hear painful stories every day from around the world, this day is a happy day before Heavenly Parent and True Parents. Their hope is that we each make our spouse the happiest on earth.”
Following the holy wine and holy water ceremonies, Rev. Sykes’ voice boomed out over the ballroom as he read the Blessing Vow and the Blessing Prayer sealing the couples’ blessing. The sparkling chandeliers reflected the light in the couples’ eyes as they affirmed the Blessing vow. Even the children who accompanied their parents were fully involved in the beauty of the event.
After the recession of the officiators, ACLC Co-President Archbishop Lewis Rose and her husband Rev. Joseph Rose conducted a simple chastening ceremony reminding couples that the Marriage Blessing is a restoration of fallen human history, as well as a new beginning for their families.
Bishop John and Rev. Artence Turnipseed from Minneapolis received the Parents of the Year Award. Renowned soccer star Mr. Abdoulaye Traore, a World Cup soccer player from Ivory Coast, received an enthusiastic welcome from the audience when he was appointed as Ambassador for Peace.
At the conclusion of the ceremony a 2-minute video was shown about the upcoming November 12th revival with True Mother at the Nassau Veterans Coliseum. In a sense today’s historic event is the beginning of preparation to receive True Mother later this year.
Ambassador James Woolsey congratulated True Mother for leading this global movement to bless and strengthen families and stated “I want to begin by appreciating the sacred value of the Marriage Blessing, which is a global movement initiated by the late Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon and his wife Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. Marriage is meant to be an eternal bond between a man and a woman. I congratulate all of who are reaffirming their vows. I want to thank Mother Moon especially, for her dedication to God and this ideal of bestowing the holy blessing on every couple in every country in the world.”
Imam Souleiman Konate of Masji al-Aqsa, who is very influential among religious leaders in New York City shared, “I am deeply moved by the blessing of Father and Mother Moon. I can feel that Father Moon’s spirit is here. Just as the Bible tells us that the family is central to God’s plan the Quran also says in Surah 30:21, ‘And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.’ Imam Konate testified to the profound movement of ACLC and to True Father and True Mother.
Rev. Charles and Edith Agbaza, a couple from Maryland said of the ceremony, “for us this was a spiritually explosive experience! Love has no color, doesn’t differentiate because of religion. This was a unique gathering of different ethnic groups and beliefs. When husband and wife meet peacefully, that peace spreads into the church and community. We want to see this continue.”