Unification News for September 2004
Outreach in the Big Sky Country 2004
By: Pastor Mike Yakawich
This is a year that the Lord had made in which we all can rejoice and be glad in it! As a reflection of many smaller ministries throughout America, the Family Church in Montana has been diligently reaching out to the larger community. In June, we hosted the Annual March Against Drugs and Violence, which continues to find participating in the community is vital. We are able to create credibility, ownership, teamwork and acceptability. We are recognized in the community by the actions and efforts that our faith guides us to do. The annual march included over 300 people with the U.S. Attorney for Montana as our keynote speaker, ministers and local community leaders. The local paper, The Outpost, captured the entire event with a photo in their paper of all the marchers walking down Main Street. Outreach in whatever form, proves to those in the community that we are here to stay and are indeed kingdom builders.
Earlier in the year, the Family Church youth band was invited and performed before 500 students and faculty at the graduation ceremony for the school of education at the University of Montana in Billings under the leadership of our youth band director, Mr. Chad Martin and Joseph Martin. We are grateful for the youth in performing and the leadership of our band and outreach. It has been a great opportunity to witness and live for the greater good.
Recently, the Family Church community participated with several other churches in a service project. This was a very large service project including making quilts, blankets, hygiene bags and other needed items for other service organizations in the community including the Red Cross and Family Services. The day began with a morning service. Our church was especially recognized and appreciated for their support and participating in the past few years when this service program began.
Our churchwomen and youth did an excellent job in participating throughout the entire day in supporting and working with women from the LDS (the main sponsor), Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist churches as well as the local Jewish synagogue. Some of our youth hauled baskets and other items for loading and delivery. Family church mothers and daughters spent all day quilting and packing bags filled with toothbrushes and other health items for firefighters to those in need. Others spent all afternoon sewing and making special blankets for newborn babies and other special items for the elderly.
At one point, the President of one church, a lay minister of another, a member of our church, Dan, and Pastor Mike all donated a pint of blood as part of the day of service. Words of Father Moon echoed in my heart that we are called to have the hearts of a Father, in the Shoes of a servant shedding tears for man, sweat for earth and blood for heaven.
On Aug. 8-9-10, 2004 the Family Church of Montana held their Annual Cooney Reservoir Retreat. There were over 40 members participating in this retreat. The weather was very pleasant as all the campers nestled close to the water. Although we have hosted three other workshops this year, they were held in the local church or Local Park. This retreat was held out in the country overlooked by the Bear Tooth Mountains about one hour from Billings.
We had a very educational talk on the Principle of Creation to start our retreat. Later, we had presentations by Meekyung MacMurdie on her experiences on STF, testimonies by Dan McMillan on why he joined this church, to morning services on our life of faith. With more than half of our membership from the neighborhood, it creates a wonderful environment of first and second generations of many age groups interacting and striving to build a community church.
What made this camp exceptional was the great turnout. We had members traveling several hours away to join us at the retreat. Likewise, we had many home church members come out to be part of the camp. Some stayed for the day and others stayed for the entire three days. It is always heartwarming to have first and second generation members participating and sharing as a family church from lectures and testimonials to swimming, rafting, fishing and canoeing. As one member shared, "These three days have been the best experience and most fun and spiritual experience I have ever had."
Our retreat also included a foreign exchange student from Japan and one of our youth’s friends from school. We felt the heart of God in His Creation, the power of the Holy Spirit in our fellowship and the love of True Parents by bringing all of us together. It was clear that without True Parents and this wonderful church community, we would not have had such a chance to get together.
In the past years, we have been blessed to develop an outreach to the local rest homes and senior centers. The youth just performed at the Billings Senior Center last week. For the second time this year, our Family Church was again invited to the Stillwater and Carbon County Hospital and Convalescent Home. This city is approximately 50 miles from Billings. Under the leadership of Mrs. Yukiko Yakawich, our youth participated with her in an hour-long service project. During half of the program, they taught a class on origami or paper folding. The Activities Director really enjoys this project for her residents. The Board of this hospital awarded the Family Church for their community service. Amazingly, the residents are serious in following the instructions and they look forward to the end result. There is always one of the origami from that class which is placed on a tree that they have in their activities room. Over the past few years, there are many on this tree. The residents say no one ever touches this tree and they always enjoy looking at the origami that they have made. The local newspaper, Stillwater County News, printed an excellent article in August on our ministry.
During the other half of the program, the youth band performs for about a half of an hour. They have prepared their songs ahead of time. They take turns doing mostly solos and then a conclusion with all of them together. This past performance included the piano, trumpet, flute and clarinet.
We are always amazed how much the rest homes and hospitals look forward to this time. Whereas in the past, we would have to call and make appointments. More recently, they are calling Yukiko to make the appointments and to see when we are available. The Activities Directors are always very grateful for our service project. In fact, this last performance, the Activity’s Director invited the local Columbus paper to interview those involved.
In all, we sincerely appreciate the inspiration and support from our Regional and Vice regional leaders, Bishop Lee and Rev. Wiesinger. We are especially grateful for True Parents and Hyun Jin Nim Moon who have guided us so wisely in the value and importance of service projects and in living for the greater good.
In conclusion, this is a report about our outreach in Montana. Yet, it is more than just a report. It is the toil and dedication of many elder members as well as new members to our church. Our story is about facing challenges and intense difficulties for every good testimony may have tears behind it. It is meeting new friends, people joining and the general effort of growing a church. It is like so many of our church communities all around America. They are out there planting seeds and nourishing the hearts and minds of the community. It is being creative and determined in our witnessing. It is working together as brothers and sisters overcoming struggles and differences. Outreach in the Big Sky Country is multifaceted and multi demenisional including many great brothers and sisters working on a common cause, church growth and community building. Alas, we see that the time for the harvest is at hand.
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