Summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is beautiful. Sunny skies and warm temperatures make up for the long, cold winters. At the beautiful new church facility in Columbia Heights, the weather and the people cooperated to create a memorable experience of the culture of heart on the weekend of July 26-27th.
Sixty-five people gathered to share the unique atmosphere of Project Phoenix resulting in a number of deep connections and relationship breakthroughs. The Minneapolis Unification community opened their hearts and not only welcomed the Project Phoenix staff, but also saw each other with fresh eyes and new hope for the future.
“I’m grateful to participate in this event because it gave me hope for our second and first gen to have a better understanding of each other and helped me understand much more what the second generation experience in their life. Thanks David for your sharing your experience. You opened the door for us to share with each other; today I got the courage to talk to my daughter. We experienced our deep love towards one another and had a break through where she expressed wanting more communication. I am grateful to God and True Parents and to Project Phoenix and all the brothers and sisters. This is healing.”
“I was reluctant to come to PP but decided to give it a shot with an open mind and I’m so glad I did. It has probably been a few years since I felt the way I did during this weekend and I feel rejuvenated, hopeful and decided to take actions to have a more ‘real’ relationship with my family and friends.
There are a few people at my table I had never spoken too although it has been 3 years since I moved here. It’s a shame it took that long to even say hello to them, but I now feel like a special bond was created. We all got a glimpse into each other’s hearts and it was beautiful.
Real, honest, fun and true relationships is what I’m yearning for and I’m so grateful for the staff to give that opportunity to all the communities they visit. It was a beautiful weekend with beautiful people. Thank you!”
“I was able to connect with people in such a short amount of time. The sense of bonding, community, hope and intuitive understanding really brought me heart-to-heart with people I had never met before. Everyone brought a unique and special quality to the family.”
On Friday evening, after dinner, the program began with exercises in listening and responding which everyone was able to practice in their family group. These activities help everyone prepare for the real work of listening to each other with sincerity and love that is essential to the weekend experience.
On Saturday morning, the family groups read an excerpt from a speech by Reverend Moon that emphasized that church members should love each other in order to build a real community of heart. Following this, the two generations participated in an exercise called Honoring the Generations. This exercise allows each generation to reveal their concepts and feelings about the other generation and when this was shared with everyone, it was revealing and often emotional.
In the family groups, everyone had the chance to express their heart and see that others in the group had lots to share as well. A delicious lunch was followed by the heart of the Project Phoenix program called Through Our Lens. This is the time when selected individuals share authentic and vulnerable testimonies about their life in the Unification movement. The four testimonies set the stage for each person sharing their own testimony in their family group. Tears, laughter and hugs accompanied each person using this opportunity to reveal a personal story that captured their experience of, and how they see the world.
The Through Our Lens activity was followed by a break and then the opportunity to relax and unwind by playing games together. Participants, both young and old enjoyed the time of fun and relaxation.
Another exercise that is enjoyable and valuable was the Community Weaving exercise. It involved coming up with a need and then sharing that need with someone else who may or may not be able to help you with your need. There were a number of interactions that resulted in participants learning about others in the community and making new connections.
The last major session of the weekend is called Going Deeper. This time two separate parent/child partners took the stage to answer questions designed to bring out feelings that often are neglected in the routine give and take of life. Both couples were mother/son pairs and each couple was able to express themselves honestly and openly to each other. This serves as an example for all the attendees who wish to improve their relationships with their family members or even friends by using the techniques and questions from the Going Deeper exercise.
The day wrapped up with another delicious meal followed by participants learning how to express appreciation for each other and practicing appreciations in their group followed by a survey that was done online where each person who attended could give feedback to the various aspects of the program.
The Minnesota Family Church community, like every other community, is unique and faces unique challenges and opportunities. The purpose of Project Phoenix is to support each community where it is invited to come and to facilitate greater in-depth communication and transparency.
“A couple of months before Project Phoenix came to our state our community was in a challenging situation we needed help from above and we needed a mediator . Project Phoenix came at the right time. Thank you, a lot of healing has begun and we can make new beginnings.”
“I am fortunate that my whole family attended Project Phoenix this time. I do intend to show up and put in effort in these relationships and it is nice to see some effort being done right away by a few of my family members. We had dinner together and authentically laughed together. I haven’t felt that way in a long time and I am quite hopeful for these relationships. I didn’t realize that I had an ache inside of me regarding my family. I really appreciate this program and the staff & for my family showing up and making effort right away. I am inspired. Thank You.”
Finally, the Project Phoenix staff would like to extend a big THANK YOU to Pastor Ha, Jim and Gudrun Gavin, Shizuka Pehling, Denise To and all the Minnesota members who helped create this wonderful time for us to grow closer to God and to each other.