The Words of the Pierce Family

Testimony of Seung Hwa

Steve and Katsuko Pierce
May 20, 2008

Our family recently had the experience to hold a Seung Hwa ceremony for our mother. I would like to report about the positive impact this had on a family member. My brother has changed so much through this experience. At first, he didn't even want to have a burial, partly due to financial concerns, partly due to an inability to trust our church, and partly due to our parents' common wish to be cremated, which I was aware of.

The forces to prevent the heavenly tradition of Seung Hwa from being followed were strong. This would have been so sad for our family, having lasting results. Our father died in 1994 and his instructions for cremation and burial at sea were carried out. Only four of our immediate family and two or three bridge club friends watched from the promontory of Point Loma in San Diego as an airplane flew miles away over sea at the appointed time. That was the only tribute, over in a matter of minutes, for such a great man who led two hundred men into Germany in World War II. He later contributed to causes to restore a just society, and personally gave aid to a village in Burma. We came so close to having this lonely and remote ending to life repeated with our mother.

I, together with Katsuko and our daughter Jennifer persevered to reach a better outcome, fully aware that we had no preparation or foundation. With the generous help from a small team of Region 12 staff and local families, together we overcame all this and brought about a most beautiful Seung Hwa and Won Jeon ceremony. My brother reluctantly gave his agreement for our plan, as was legally required. His heart began to change when he consented and told me to "follow the force".

The first forty hours we prayed each hour. Then, families came to our house to sing, study, and pray every night. Reading Father's words (“Earthly Life and Spirit World”) was essential to gaining the heart and understanding that we would need to be successful.

When it came time to sign expensive and forbidding contracts, there was no trace of dread but only the peace that what was being done was absolutely right. Then the day of ceremony came. My brother's dread of some grim Puritan funeral procession evaporated as soon as he walked into the chapel and felt (as if hit by a blast of oxygen) the atmosphere of sincerity and unity, as we put the finishing touches on the beautiful decorations. Immediately he began thanking everyone and taking pictures. Members really embraced him. After a loving tribute to our mother, the Won Jeon ceremony was held just a few miles away. As spontaneously as a child, my brother joined Rev. Henning and myself in leading three cheers of “Mansei” at the ceremony's conclusion.

That evening, instead of retreating to his favorite pastimes, without any hesitation he joined our family fellowship for the first time, consisting of singing, reading, and prayer. That can only happen when the heart is opened and all barriers are removed. Therefore, we found that day where to get the power to change heart and dissolve barriers. Our global family has many specialties: adoption through offering, inter-cultural marriages, Seung Hwa celebrations of transition, crossing bridges of peace, interfaith work. Let's use our strengths. We are so proud of True Parents and our global family.

The Pierce Family -- May 20, 2008 

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