History of the First Years of Our Church in Britain – Part 2
by Patricia A. Hartley
This story was first published more than 30 years ago, and it is about the beginnings of our movement, in the mid to late 1960s, in one Western European nation. The story gives us a sense that when we reach out to people, some wonderful men and women are prepared and willing to listen and respond.
Part 2 (Click to read Part 1 which was posted last week)
Our daily schedule was as follows and we kept it strictly:
- 5:30 – Get up, wash and dress
- 6:00 – Teaching practice
- 7:30 – Breakfast
- 8:00 – Prepare and leave for work
- 18:00 – Return from work and prepare supper
- 18:30 – Supper and discussion
- 19:30 – Guests arrive to listen to Divine Principle
Bringing home His lost children
While some members were teaching or supporting, others visited some of the many societies, folk clubs and activities in London. We always expected to find at least one prepared person, if not more, everywhere we went. This was our natural way of thinking. God was bringing home His lost children and we, His instruments, just had to find them.
By 11:00 pm, those who had gone out witnessing returned to the center and our guests would go home, looking forward to returning as soon as possible to hear more of the Divine Principle. The five of us would eagerly discuss the progress of each potential spiritual child and after praying together, it was sometimes 3:00 am before we got to bed. Those days were so exciting. We just loved the people.
Bob met Christopher Davies at a London Folk Club in early 1968. I must say that he looked quite formidable in those days with a shock of red hair and a great big red beard, like a lion. As the Truth of the Divine Principle seeped into his original heart and mind, he felt a change within himself which naturally resulted in what we used to call “Chapter 13”. There were 12 chapters in the Divine Principle book in those days and Chapter 13 was the first attempt to apply Divine Principle. This meant short hair and a shaven face for men and no miniskirts and less or no makeup for women.
It soon became apparent that a bigger center was needed. We eventually found a flat in Earl’s Court and moved in on March 30, 1968. Chris helped us move and has been a good and trusty member ever since. He was a qualified chartered accountant and his musical talent became a great asset to center life and also to public witnessing. Chris has written dozens of songs which are known to thousands of members throughout the world.
Early in 1968 Marion invited Doris Walder to come and speak to the nine members in Britain. At that time Doris was helping Teddy Verheyen in Holland. Doris and Teddy had previously worked together under Miss Kim in the United States. After consulting with Miss Kim, it was decided that Doris should visit the members in London and also specifically contact Anthony Brooke [the Rajah of Sarawak], who knew about the True Parents and had studied the Divine Principle under Miss Kim’s guidance.
Anthony Brooke was well-known among spiritual groups. Doris arrived on March 31, 1968 and four weeks later she and June went to visit Anthony Brooke’s secretary, Monica Parish. Subsequently, Anthony Brooke organized a speaking tour for Doris. The following week Doris and June visited a spiritual group in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. In May, Doris and Marion visited the Findhorn Community in Scotland. This group had had revelations about the Second Coming and knew about Father in Korea. They had a special relationship to Nature. However, when they heard Doris speak about the Divine Principle, they turned hostile. Only one man listened and felt that these two women had something to say. Dennis Orme followed Doris and Marion back to London to hear the Divine Principle in depth. Dennis joined the following month in June. He had been searching for the truth for several years.
Dennis’ indemnity course began when he realized that he would have to live in a large, crowded city to find God’s lost children. He loved the peace and beauty of nature, and Doris and Marion had met him in a beautiful part of Scotland. After returning from Scotland on completion of her speaking tour, Doris consulted with Miss Kim and it was decided that she would assume the central role in our church in Britain.
At the beginning of 1968, June had helped me to secure a job as a typist at the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square. It was there that I met a young South African girl, Cynthia Buchanan. Cynthia helped us clean the new center at Earl’s Court and joined us on the day we moved in. Cynthia witnessed to another fellow typist and shortly afterwards Dawn (Golding) Jouret also joined us. Both girls had been born in South Africa and had grown up in a society where black servants did all the menial tasks for the white people. With this background, and also not really understanding enough about the law of indemnity, Cynthia only stayed with us for a few months. Dawn, on the other hand, although coming from a similar background, understood Divine Principle more clearly. Although she had her struggles, as we all did, Dawn stayed and became a valuable member of God’s growing family and is still with us today. It was really a case of one person being sacrificed for another, as is predicted in Matthew 24:40-41: “Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one left.”
We had only been in the new flat for a couple of months, when it became necessary to find still larger accommodations. There were so many of us living in the flat and people who lived in the flats above us started giving us strange looks. Several people who had heard Divine Principle wanted to come and live with us to experience center life, but could not because of a lack of space. We eventually found a house to rent for two years. On July 1, 1968, we moved into a beautiful 7-bedroom house on Streatham Common in Southwest London.
When we moved to the Streatham center, 3 people joined us, making 13 center members. Ian Alexander was a soldier and had been met at Charing Cross Underground station in London while we were still at the first center. Ian heard most of the Divine Principle from June in the kitchen. He liked the atmosphere in the center so much and it was always a struggle for him to leave at night, to return to his military barracks. Sometimes, when we had said goodbye and closed the front door, he would continue speaking through the letterbox flap. Some years later Ian became our first printer.
Alec Herzer was a cartographer whom we met at the “59 Society” in London. This was an organization which invited people from all walks of life to give talks to an audience. Alec collected the money for them at the door. God had had His eye on Alec for a long time but we hadn’t realized it. In fact, we had deliberately avoided him, thinking that he would object to us witnessing to other people there. We always attended talks on spiritual subjects. Alec observed this and one day he came over to where we were sitting and asked us what we were doing. We told him and soon afterwards Alec began to hear Divine Principle. Before starting to teach in the evenings we used to sit in a circle and sing a few songs. We noticed that Alec was always late and would arrive when the singing had stopped. One day we politely asked him why he was always late and he sheepishly replied that he didn’t like the singing so much and so he would ride around the block on his bicycle until the singing had stopped. We laughed a lot but it made us realize that not everyone liked to sing as much as we did. Alec finally joined us after knowing the Family for a year.
Carol Bartholomew was from the West Indies and was then working in London as a social worker when she was met by June. It’s always amazing how God works. June changed jobs and did social work for only one month. God had sent her just to meet Carol. Carol is famous in our church for the calypso she wrote “Come back Adam, come back Eve, wipe the tears from His eyes.” Personally, I could overcome so much of my [white] South African upbringing through Carol, to whom I am deeply grateful.
The concluding installment will be posted next week.