The Words of the Fleisher Family
The eternal responsibility of all Blessed Couples in the Principled Realm (remember that this is a realm of couples and families) is:
To complete the First Blessing
To pioneer and accomplish the fulfillment of the Second Blessing
To Expand the Principled Realm and bring the Blessing to All Humanity
To be a model of the Ideal of the Blessing to our community and to the Greater Society
To create the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth centered on the Ideal Family
Just as the fulfillment of the First Blessing must go through 3 stages, I believe the fulfillment of the Second Blessing is a process and will take time. The partners in the couple start off as two disunited individuals and must get to the goal of the ideal unity as modeled in the visual image of God in the Yin Yang symbol. In that symbol, the dual characteristics of God are still distinct but they are also beautifully and fully united and form a rounded/whole and complete entity/Being that is greater than the sum of the parts. This journey takes time and is a process that we, as Blessed Couples are pioneering. We fortunately have the model of Our True Parents to follow and guide us, but we must find the way to help each unique couple customize this process.
This process must be understood in the greater context of the limitations / baggage that our imperfection and remnants of sin bring to the mix. This then means that in addition to each couple learning how to and working on perfecting themselves and their family, each partner must continue to strive for individual perfection and to cleanse all traces of sin in the world (collective, ancestral and still, in some cases, individual). Even given this very difficult job (this is a grace from God, not a curse, and mimics the process of Restoration which is progressive and moving towards the ideal from a horrific reality due to the fall) each couple absolutely need to pioneer the perfection of the second blessing. Of course, each individual couple is ultimately responsible to fulfill this task but the church leadership should represent the Heart of God and offer support to each couple and our greater community of faith. This is especially true since victories in this process can benefit not only the individual couple but also establish merit of the age. In this regard, it is not only a benefit for the couple or a practice of the couple’s devotion but also a contribution to the process of Restoration. In this settlement age, it is each couples responsibility to build the Kingdom of God and be worthy to be citizens of that Kingdom.
The basic mission of the Blessed Family Department is to support our community of faith in the very crucial and difficult, process of fulfilling the Three Blessings and establishing the Kingdom of God.
A secondary, yet also crucial task is to uphold the standard and ideal of the Blessing.
A third aspect of this mission is to be a body that can communicate information related to the Blessing to the community of faith and support the Blessing process as well as field questions and reinforce our Blessing Traditions. They should be a connection to the National and International Blessing Departments.
I came up with the following mission statement:
The BFD must create a support structure and access to tools that will enable Blessed Central Families to accomplish/embody the reality of the Three Blessings, becoming worthy and ideal citizens of the Kingdom of God that they are working so hard to build. It must defend and uphold the highest ideal of the Blessing and enable the unfolding and blossoming of the Blessed Way of Life in our communities. It must also help Blessed Children to prepare for the Blessing, to safely travel through the minefields of their fallen social environment in order that they can expand the principled realm. It must also be able to provide effective counseling support and tools for those extreme/high-risk cases.
Rev. Schanker, Education Department VP with oversight of the BFD ministry, describes the department’s function as an advisory one, as opposed to being a department in the direct report chain of the American leadership.. In addition, in the letter sent to the District Directors on 9/9/06 -- Jim and Hiromi Stephens, Nation Co-Directors of the Blessed Family Department, suggest that every large concentration of members needs a BFD Representative:
“Whether that group is a former region, a state or even a city, there should be a clearly identified couple that has BFD responsibility in that area. Members need an identifiable person(s) that they can directly connect to.”
I believe for the initial development of the BFD throughout our District, the first step is to identify a state BFD Representative Couple for each state. This even includes Wyoming -- which has only one couple! In addition, I would suggest that city BFD Representative Couples could also be appointed for Houston and Austin since there are concentrations of Blessed Couples in both of those cities as well as Dallas. The task of choosing these representative is very important and therefore, very difficult. Please feel free to consult with me on your choices. Whoever you choose should definitely be called to this mission and committed to serving and enabling their state’s Blessed Couples to gain victory in the Realm of the Second Blessing. Also, in keeping with Rev. Schanker’s guidance, if at all possible (I’m thinking of Wyoming which obviously will be an exception, though the current leaders should connect as much a possible to the BFD in Colorado) they should not be one of your current leaders.
It is understandable that this is a volunteer and part-time mission. What type of person would be ideal for this mission? The general pattern seems to favor appointing a couple (though one of the couple may be the more active of the two) for this mission. I believe this couple should have a stable and healthy Blessing and be capable of and willing to organize the BFD work in their state, eventually building it into a strong department. They may not be specifically trained in mentoring, marriage and family education or counseling, but should be able to oversee the development of these ministries in their state. It would be helpful if their characters embodied warmth, genuineness and the ability to empathize.
Once the Representatives are chosen, the next task is to develop a strategy and plan for training these leaders so that they will be empowered to implementing the BFD in each of their states. I would recommend that we hold a District BFD conference in Dallas to welcome these leaders into the Department and strategize on how to develop the BFD in their state / city. It would also be an opportunity to begin the long training process needed for the leaders in this ministry. This should last for 1 day. The date for this conference would depend on how soon representatives could be chosen and the current schedules of those couples. I would model the agenda after the agenda used for the National BFD Conferences. One other suggestion I have is that the BFD Representative Couple (or one of the spouses) for Texas be able to attend the Smart Marriage Conference in Denver. This will be an invaluable learning opportunity and would be a good jump-start experience for the development of their ministry. Each of these Representatives should also prepare to attend the National BFD Conference, usually held in the 4th Quarter of each year.
So what kind of programs could the BFD Representatives develop? The main thrust of these programs should be educational and should focus on lifting up and supporting the situation of the medium number (as in the Bell Curve) of our Blessed Couples. These are couples that can benefit from an educational approach -- those mature enough to be able to utilize and apply the material in their own situation. The content of this education should be in building successful relationships guided by the vision of the Ideal of the Three Blessings. It should focus both on couples and on families. In support of this and in recognition of the diverse demographics in our communities of faith, it would be valuable to develop material in the mother tongue of the sub-cultures (mostly National or language based) of our local community (Korean, Japanese, Spanish). This education can be a two-pronged approach, focusing on the support of young couples and also upon enriching the older couples.
In addition to an educational ministry, the BFD should also develop a counseling arm. More difficult problems will surely require specialized help and a counseling component of the BFD ministry should focus on this need and arena.
The following are some suggestion based on our activities in Denver:
Present programs developed by the existing marriage ministries and marriage education/enrichment programs that have been inspired by God. Just a word of advice regarding the material that is being developed from the marriage movement; this must always be viewed in the greater context of the Divine Principle and Father’s words. If utilized in this context, then the material is very helpful and useful.
Present fellowship programs to read the Words of our True Parents about the Blessing, Ideal Family Life, Parenting, etc.
Present programs where members can study and pray focused on the Family Pledge -- this is a God inspired text that very clearly sets the standard and goals that we should strive to attain as a Blessed Family.
No matter what kind of programs are developed, they should occur on a regular basis, since members need continual education in order to work smart as well as hard at their task of perfecting the Second Blessing. I would suggest that there be opportunities provided initially on a quarterly but moving to a monthly basis to the Church community to encourage and support this devotional practice -- an opportunity for our community of faith to benefit from and be exposed to the many available resources concerned with the accomplishment of successful marriages and families. These should be really joy filled fellowships -- a time for culture building and wisdom learning. It would be helpful to utilize these meetings to focus on supporting our members in gaining skills for establishing and developing successful relationships.
The value of such meetings would also be to provide a community of support and encouragement to our community of faith. A third value of such a meeting would be to function as gentle reminder to each couple of their responsibility to invest / work on this area of their life (help in building up a habit of working on their Second Blessing). Now, these meetings will not solve the problems being experienced by our Blessed Couples as this is ultimately their responsibility to do that, but they should encourage healthy growth and help provide access to tools that have proved useful in enabling success in this for task. You might think of them as providing access to pro-active, preventative medicine thereby encouraging healthy marriage practices.