On March 8-10, 2019 Project Phoenix was welcomed to the great American city of Boston, Massachusetts. Held at the historic Beacon Street church center, the gathering brought a wave of inspiration, education, and hope for the attendees.
Sixty-five souls participated in the seminar and many found more than they were expecting from their experience. Here are some of the comments taken from surveys completed at the end:
“I met wonderful people, shared deeply, kindly, and honestly with them. I witnessed healing of relationships, revival of hope in downtrodden spirits, and an evolution of faith. I made new connections that I’m sure will lead to new creations”.
“The “Going Deeper” segment really impacted me and made me emotional, thinking about my own relationship with my parents. In the sharing within the group after, I even started crying just talking about what I felt. Experiencing that and the genuine love & support from the staff and participants made the event worth coming to. It was comforting to be in a place where we all have the desire to share honestly, be vulnerable, and appreciate each other.”
“I was able to experience a glimpse into what becomes possible when people take time to hold space and broaden their perspectives within my church community. I also got some clarity around what is missing in my life. I was able to nurture a new part of my authentic self.”
The program began Friday evening with dinner. After the meal, Pastor Catherine Ono introduced the emcees for the event, Dr. David Burgess and Sophie Maes. This duo, along with Sancha Ogden, shared the emcee duties and kept the program moving with high spirit and a flow.
The emcees introduced the evening speakers, David Young and Sancha Ogden. These two young leaders shared stories and exercises that led the participants into a deeper awareness of the power of listening to others. Through group and pair sharing, everyone explored their own patterns of communicating and learned new tools to enhance relationships. The intention of the evening program was primarily to prepare everyone for the rest of the seminar.
Saturday morning began with breakfast and the two signature activities of Project Phoenix. The first is called “Honoring the Generations. During HTG, the Youngers and Elders separate into two groups and both groups answer a series of questions about how we view the other generation and how we think they view us. The answers are unique, honest, and sincere: sometimes funny and sometimes painful. The answers are recorded and when the groups reconvene together, the answers given are read to the other generation. This activity is often eye-opening and heartfelt as members of each generation come to new realizations and appreciation for members of the other generation.
The second activity is called “Through Our Lens.” Four individuals each share for 15 minutes what life has been like for them as an elder or younger in the movement. These testimonies are conveyed with honesty and vulnerability.
By sharing with the entire group in this way, it opens the door for group sharing and each person is encouraged to express their own perspective with the same honesty and vulnerability. The four TOL speakers were: George Howe, Cheryl Roth, Benito Rodriguez and Kaeng Takahashi. In the Boston event, there were a number of parents and adult children from the same family. This created an atmosphere of listening which uplifted the entire gathering.
After Through Our Lens, the program continued with lunch and games. The games were engaging and active such that everyone could relax and have some fun! This lightened up the energy in the room so that participants could receive the content from a reading from Reverend Moon entitled “The Member-centered Movement”. This reading reminds everyone that the most important desire in the heart of God is that His children love each other and treat each other with kindness.
This was followed by an activity called “Community Weaving” whereby needs are shared with others in the community and responses are given to those needs often resulting in substantial benefits to those requesting help. There are many talents and skills that can be shared if there is an awareness of how those skills are needed by others.
The final segment of the afternoon program included an activity called “Going Deeper.” In the Boston event, Sophie Maes and her father sat on stage facing each other and answered questions that were designed to bring out areas of lack in their relationship. Through the question and answer format, their hearts were both open to each other and they could hear each other in a way that had not been possible before.
Dinner was prepared by Sachiko Yatsu, one of the Japanese sisters from the Boston Family church, and consisted of bento boxes that were greatly enjoyed by everyone! After dinner, the program concluded with acknowledgments and appreciations in each group and a survey that allowed attendees to give feedback for improving the program.
On Sunday, over 50 people gathered after church to learn more about Project Phoenix and to plan for future activities in the Boston area that incorporate what they had learned and experienced over the weekend!
“It’s the first church event I’ve been to in 5 years and I was pleasantly surprised. It gave me a place to feel safe, then to fully open my heart more than I have in a long time and be genuinely heard. It also gave me the opportunity to truly hear others with no expectation to offer help but just really listen and make the space safe. And real tools to have such conversations with others after this. My heart feels calm and that is overwhelmingly just good to me. Thank you.”
“Project Phoenix began an important conversation in Boston and created the space in our community and in our hearts to take tangible steps toward building the kingdom of heaven on earth.”
“Recently, I had been feeling uninspired regarding my life of faith and my connections with my church community. In a sense, I felt like I was in a spiritual slump. But attending this conference reminded me of the potential my relationships with my church community can have and that I have been letting myself become a victim to my circumstances. I was reminded of the fact that I am craving genuine relationships and that in order to achieve those relationships I need to change the way I interact with others.”
Massive thanks to the staff who took their time to fly or drive in and be totally focused on the program, bringing their full heart into it: David Y, Grandma Lucia, Sam, Sancha, Sunder, Matt, Jonathan, Benito, Kieran, Catherine, David B, and Mark A.