USA: Local Celebrations of Yankee Stadium Anniversary Begin
by FFWPU USA: This year we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Yankee Stadium Rally, where True Father declared a groundbreaking message to America on June 1, 1976. All throughout this week, Unificationists around the country are commemorating this moment and looking forward with hope for the future by hosting festivals and special services for friends and family alike. The following are some of the first updates of local celebrations from across the United States. For more information about the original rally, check out our latest installment of This Week in History here.
New York City, NY
A small group comprising of members of the local New York Unificationist community and local pastors, as well as Dr. Michael Balcomb, FFWPU USA President, and Mrs. Fumiko Balcomb, gathered at the new Yankee Stadium 6:00am on June 1. Together they read True Father’s prophetic speech “America is God’s Hope,” given 40 years ago today.
“The old Yankee Stadium is gone, the grass withers and the flowers fall, but God’s Word endures forever,” said Dr. Balcomb, quoting the book of Isaiah. Earlier this week, clergy associated with the American Clergy Leadership Conference also held a service and rally at the new stadium.
The group prayed to close the morning ceremony. They will also be participating in the God Bless America Family Festival on Sunday, June 5, where over 2000 people will come together at the Belvedere Estate in Tarrytown, NY to commemorate this historic anniversary together with True Mother.
Honolulu Family Church
In the afternoon, on Sunday, May 29, 80 family members and their friends including dignitaries from Hawaii and other states gathered at the Campus Center Ballroom of the University of Hawaii at Manoa to hold the first Peace and Family Festival under the Universal Peace Federation’s (UPF) banner. The theme of the program was “Peace and Family.”
The historic Yankee Stadium Rally in 1976 was also commemorated at the event. Rev. Kazuo Takami, District Pastor of Hawaii, took a moment in his introductory remarks to share the essence of the prophetic message True Father gave at the rally 40 years ago and showed a brief video of that historic day.
The keynote speaker at the event was Hon. Mike Gabbard, state senator of Hawaii. Senator Gabbard emphasized the importance of traditional marriage and shared the story of how he has been fighting to promote it as a way to bring widely different people together. Senator Gabbard’s wife, Mrs. Carol Gabbard, was present at the program and gave his speech additional credibility since they are an interreligious couple; Mrs. Gabbard is a Hindu while Senator Gabbard is a Catholic.
Kona Family Church
The Kona Family Church of Hawaii celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Yankee Stadium Rally on Friday, May 27. Around 40 Unificationists and guests enjoyed fellowship during dinner as they listened to inspiring stories and read True Father’s testimony from that time.
Pastor Rev. Chuck Frumin related some eyewitness accounts from the event in 1976. He presented pictures through a PowerPoint presentation and then read True Father’s words about how members won a spiritual victory that day.
Dr. Sam Masilamoney testified how it was True Father’s will to help God bring about the ideal world.
Everyone joined in songs afterward, singing “You Are My Sunshine” and “God Bless America.” It was a memorable evening for everyone, including guests like Dr. Hirata, a dentist, and the Kimuras, a couple visiting from Japan.
Wisconsin Family Church
Forty Unificationists and guests gathered to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of Yankee Stadium on Sunday, May 29, at the Wisconsin Family Church. In the beauty of a Wisconsin summer’s day, they listened to the testimonies of a dozen veterans of the Yankee Stadium campaign who worked tirelessly to make this event possible.
The veterans’ relentless determination reinforced the unity of the membership, which inspired the young people and their guests. They were inspired by the veterans’ pride as they worked as band members, street cleaners, and security personnel, as well as decorated, and set up the stadium. There were those who had to mobilize people from Las Vegas, San Francisco, and New York in order to fill the stadium. Some of the veterans testified to bringing their own parents despite the negative coverage from the media.
One participant who came as a guest quietly mentioned that he had been at Yankee Stadium that time. The veterans immediately embraced him as a hero, while one of them shouted, “You were why we were working at Yankee Stadium!”
Toward the end, certificates of appreciation were presented to the Yankee Stadium veterans, concluding the service with remembrance of this dedicated event.
Colorado Family Church
The Colorado Family Church held a special outdoor service and festival to commemorate three special events: the 40th anniversary of the Yankee Stadium Rally, Memorial Day, and the 2nd Annual Spring Refresh. For the past two years, the church has been hosting an annual festival which brings together cleaning and development projects as well as great, wholesome family fun.
The community held its entire service at a large park near its church facility. During the service, songs were specially chosen to commemorate the day. Pastor Adonia Hentrich gave a sermon using excerpts of True Father’s speech from 1976. The words that True Father spoke about the United States’ unique role in the world and how much Heavenly Parent invested to build this great nation still ring true to the community today. Pastor Adonia stated that we can bring our Heavenly Parent back to America by including God in our lives and families. The group sang “God Bless America” at the end of the sermon.
After the service, many people volunteered for different projects to beautify and improve the building. This year, the projects were digging a trench for an electrical conduit, cleaning the outside of the windows, carpet cleaning, setting up some café-style outdoor seating, and gardening.