Church pioneers from 1972 or even earlier were treated to applause, awards and hugs from their children on Sunday, December 9, 2012 at the Maryland congregation of the Unification Church. For many, the congratulatory awards were presented by their children and grandchildren.
The following message from Henri and Loretta Schauffler, the newly-elected pastors of District One, was read to 14 awardees by Rev. Matthew Goldberg, the Maryland Pastor:
“On the occasion of celebrating your 40 years following our True Parents as members of the Unification Church, let us congratulate you heartily.
“…Mrs. Gil Ja Eu of the 36 couples told us that good spirit world and Heavenly Father carry us through the first 40 years, but that by then we must have our own foundation. It is, therefore, an awesome responsibility to stand as a 40-year member.
“The best thing about this celebration are the memories we have all collected of living our lives together as brothers and sisters and then as Blessed Central families. How rich and deep are the memories and lessons of life being lived on God's front line. Where else could we have experienced such amazing friendships, challenges, and victories!
“We are grateful to all of you who have endured and developed for 40 years. We can only wish you a wonderful celebration and great hope for our continued development as a church and as brothers and sisters working together in District one.”
A group of young Unificationists led by Shin Taylor sang “Happy Anniversary” to the pioneers, and each honoree then stood with his or her spouse and children for a photo.
David Hill, one of the honorees, read an excerpt of True Father’s sermon, “The Point of Rise or Fall,” given on December 10, 1972 at the Upshur House Center in Washington, D.C. (Find sermon posted here). “It is a beautiful speech, and is mainly about God’s love,” Hill told his brothers and sisters in faith. Hill had kept a copy of the sermon, which was lost for 40 years, on his cassette tape recorder and later converted it to a digital file that he gave to the News Team at church headquarters in September 2012. Mrs. Margaret Herbers, who was one of the early church pioneers at Upshur House in 1972, spent many hours transcribing the sermon although the audio quality was poor.
The Honorees at the ceremony included the following: David Hill, Ray Mas (joined in 1971), Irma Mas, Glenn Strait (joined in 1971), Hiromi Stephens, Vicki Phelps, Brenda Miller, Libby Mitchell Henkin, Ardri DeGroot, Russell Walters, Ingrid Chase, and Susan Fefferman.