Blessed Culture & Sports Festival in USA, New York

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On August 10, 2016, the 12th Annual Blessed Culture and Sports Festival (BSCF XII) commenced at the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) in Barrytown, NY. Unificationists from around the country and the world gathered together to celebrate our faith and community, as well as engage in spirited and respectful competition with one another all the way through Sunday, August 14.

Festival participants slowly trickled in throughout the first half of the day, setting up tents across the seminary lawns and preparing for the exciting activities ahead. As evening approached, many of the participants headed over to the dojo to attend Junction, a musical worship service geared to speak to the mind, open the heart, and set a positive spiritual atmosphere, and a prelude to the Opening Ceremonies.

After an excellent set of original music and covers performed by the Bridgeport-based, Unificationist band Prideswell, Tasnah Moyer, the STF/GPA (Special Task Force/Generation Peace Academy) Alumni Coordinator, gave the Junction message, speaking about the freedom that emerges when we can see even our most debilitating challenges as God-given opportunities to grow our capacity to love, forgive, and embrace.

“We can look at the world and see everything that’s going wrong with it, but I can look at my own life and ask, ‘What small step can I take now, today? In my own family and in my own community, with the people around me, and slowly move this world forward?’” Tasnah concluded her message by inviting everyone to set an intention about the small steps we can take at BCSF to make that slow, genuine shift to a better world in our own experiences and relationships together, here and now.

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The Opening Ceremonies followed, beginning with remarks by Continental Director of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) in North America Dr. Ki Hoon Kim. Sharing his enthusiasm and appreciation for BCSF, Dr. Kim commented,

“Tomorrow morning, I will take a flight to Korea to participate in True Father’s fourth Seonghwa anniversary ceremony with True Mother in Cheongpyeong. Whenever I see True Mother, her first question, to which I must always prepare an answer is—do you know what it is? The first question True Mother always raises to me when I see her is, ‘How are the American young people?’ That is True Mother’s first question. She always reminds me, ‘Your assignment as Continental Director is to care for the second generation of our movement. That is the priority of your mission.’

“So, whenever I have the chance, I like to come and see each one of you. That is when the most inspiration comes, from you to me, and I want to share this joyful heart with True Mother.”

He continued, “The way I see it, we are the miracle makers. For the last eight years, you have laid foundations for the younger generations; I even see many third-generation children and youth here, walking around, playing. These days, you, the American young people, are the great hope of True Mother. You are the great hope of the worldwide Unification movement.”

After concluding his remarks and wishing the BCSF participants well, Dr. Kim was succeeded on stage by Oliver Knoll, Program Director for this year’s festival.

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Though speaking for only a few minutes, Oliver warmly welcomed all of the attendees to the festival and encouraged us to inherit and share in the spirit of BCSF. “BCSF is a place of wild abandon. It’s a place where you can put everything on the table. You don’t have to hold back. You don’t have to be reserved. You’re going to put it out there. You’re going to try your hardest. You’re going to go for it. That’s the kind of community we create: we create a community of sincerity. I want to see that this week. I want to see that in each and every person this week. I want to see everybody supporting each other. This isn’t just about you, it’s not just about one person. It’s about us supporting the person next to us. I see that every single year I’ve been here and I want to see that continue.

“Our mission statement for BCSF is to create a hub for young Unificationists through sports, culture, and spiritual practice. I want to see a community that values those three things, that values each other.”

Oliver concluded, “Thank you for coming here tonight. Thank you so much for investing. I know many of you drove, you flew, you walked, you biked—anyway you could, you came here. You invested a lot to be here: gas money, food money, camping. I understand, it costs a lot to be here. But more importantly, you invested your emotion, your effort, and your will to be here. You could have made an excuse; you could have decided not to come this year. So let’s make this week count. There’s so much potential in this room. Let’s shine!”

With that, representatives from each of the state, regional, and national teams in attendance had an opportunity to showcase their team shirts, colors, and spirit as the first of tomorrow’s sporting matchups were announced. The energy and excitement among the audience was so high that it seemed as if tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough.

But tomorrow will come, and with it, the beginning of many tournaments and cultural activities here in Barrytown. Be sure to stay tuned in the days ahead for the latest exciting news from BCSF!

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