On August 10 th and 11 th , a Project Phoenix gathering was held in Seattle at the Ravenna-
Eckstein Community Center. Sixty people primarily from the Seattle area attended. Like most
Project Phoenix events, this one featured lots of deep sharing and emotional breakthroughs. In
addition, a number of the participants felt that long-held resentments were washed away and
heavy experiences of the past were shared and released.
The program began with dinner on Friday evening and a welcome from the local organizers
David Burgess and Irvin Granstrom. The Project Phoenix staff were introduced followed by a
riveting presentation by David Young about the Games We Play. He described how we often
live according to scripts in our own mind that are based on our pre-conceived ideas about who
we are and how we behave. Also, the participants were led in exercises to create awareness as
to the variety of listening styles that are used in daily life. The purpose is to allow everyone to
engage in actual listening over the course of the weekend. In addition, David shared about the
difference between Mind-Body unity and Heart-Body unity. This was an eye-opening revelation
for many of the attendees and enabled some to re-evaluate their primary method of
connecting with themselves internally.
Saturday began with breakfast and family groups sharing about what they learned or
experienced the night before. After breakfast, the next activity was called Honoring the
Generations. In this exercise, the group divides into youngers and elders and each group
answers a series of questions designed to allow expression of feelings primarily about the other
generation. After much enthusiastic sharing, the generational groups re-convene and each
conveys the content they came up with with the other group. The results are often surprising
Honoring the Generations is followed by a series of four testimonies called Through Our Lens.
These testimonies are often raw, honest, and gut-wrenching as those chosen to speak reveal
their experiences growing up in the Movement or trying to be a good parent and also a faithful
member at the same time. There are testimonies from both male and female members of both
the young and elder generations. In this case, the brave speakers were Kieran Calavan, Sandra
Lowen, David Wolfenberger, and Jessica Sattinger. Each revealed incredible challenges and
amazing experiences leading to healing and a deep connection with family and their faith.
Based on the vulnerability exhibited by the four people sharing their testimony, each
participant was given time to share within their family group a similar testimony of their own
life. The atmosphere is one of safety and respect enabling many of those present to express
things from their lives that they have perhaps never shared before. A box of Kleenex was on
every table as tears were flowing through this section of the program.
Following this deep and meaningful session, it was time for lunch and some light-hearted
game playing time. The game played was called Fish Bowl and it involved teams of participants
giving clues and performing charades to get teammates to guess words and phrases. This
session is always a time of laughter and fun for everyone!
In the afternoon, there were three more sessions. The first was a reading from a speech by
the founder of our movement Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The speech goes into detail about the
importance of loving each other as a fundamental lifestyle that leads to the experience of a
heavenly life. Second, was an exercise called Community Weaving where participants mingle
with the purpose of sharing a need and helping others who may have a need. This exercise
often enlightens people to understand that there are tremendous resources in their own
community and the key is communication and trust.
Finally, the last session of the afternoon is called Going Deeper. This is where two individuals
answer questions from each other in front of the whole room and go through a process of
reconciliation and mutual understanding. In this case, Ella and Sonia Byrne courageously
addressed a number of the issues that had kept them at odds over the years and in sharing
honestly were able to open the doors for greater communication and a deeper relationship
going forward. Everyone could experience their sincerity and love for each other as they dealt
with difficult issues.
Dinner followed, and the program concluded with family group appreciations and testimonies
from people who shared with the entire group. The appreciation exercise is an activity that
people rarely experience in daily life. To be appreciated by a group of people, as well as
expressing appreciation for someone else in a very specific and heartfelt way is very validating
The evening closed with an online survey so that everyone could share reflections and
suggestions to improve the program in the future. The survey results indicated that for many,
this was an incredibly valuable opportunity to understand themselves more deeply and to make
better connections with others in the community—especially across the generational divide.
After church on Sunday, a meeting was held for those who wanted to continue the inspiration
and connection from the weekend on a regular basis. A group was formed to organize an
upcoming follow-up event. Most communities who experience a Project Phoenix event have
chosen to continue with monthly gatherings to practice the listening and communication skills
and to maintain and deepen the personal relationships forged in the meeting.
A big thank you to the leaders and members of the Seattle community for hosting the Project
Phoenix staff and welcoming us to the city!!