Looking back to the summer of workshops, we want to share some reflections and reports about what was experienced and created together.
This year, we ran three workshops: a new workshop for 22+ (Roots 22+), an upgraded Senior workshop (for participants up to the age of 20) and the Original Divine Personality + workshop (ODP+). We were at maximum capacity for each one and there were over 250 participants and staff who joined, from 25 different countries.
This summer’s motto was “Remember: We are Made in God.” It was based on the quote: “So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
We wanted to return to the transformative concept, that we are created in God and that we can create together with God. This can be the most powerful source of meaning, direction, stability and creativity. Despite what the world tells us, we cannot be anyone or do anything. Each of us is not anyone, but someone. And each of us is called not to anything, but to some things in specific. We need to regularly re-root ourselves in the Principle and reject many of our current social trends. Our roots are in God and True Parents. That is who we are. And in drawing strength again in these roots and in the Divine Principle, a deeper desire to grow, to give and to love was awakened in many of us. There was a sense of re-committing to God and to our Blessing lifestyle, and to nurturing a grounded, meaningful and personal relationship with True Parents. We were reminded of the value that we have, as individuals and as a Unificationist community.
We want to thank everyone for contributing to what was another powerful and significant summer; we should all feel a sense of accomplishment in what could be created. A huge thank you in particular to Uncle Armando, and our elder brother Geros for contributing the core lecture content. Through their words, we could all experience God’s Love and Truth, and True Parents’ spirit and heart. Many thanks also to each of the team leaders for your care and investment, and for the rest of the core-staff team – it was a joy to work together. Finally, thank you to each participant, for all the personal investment in the content, in each other, in the teams, for what you could overcome in the process, for when you could be honest and sincere and for all the support and love expressed amongst us.
Below is a selection of testimonies, taken from participants’ written reflections.
“I never expected the content to impact me so much. The lectures spoke to my soul. It was confronting and comforting. The key message for me was understanding God’s love. It opened a new path and opening in my heart, that is allowing me to heal and commit to goals I now believe I can achieve.
Another key take-away was on the Blessing. Before now, I was so caught up by the overwhelming vocabulary and the specific steps and order, which honestly made it hard for me to connect to. I felt like I was so far from achieving that level. But the way the Blessing was talked about here, makes it sound so beautiful and actually exciting and something I could actually work on. I ended up feeling so light and liberated. I am so grateful for all the core staff who have made this experience an absolutely life-changing, incredible time for me.”
“I feel renewed, uplifted, recharged. In this workshop, I’ve gained insight and clarity, which has made me reaffirm my identity and my relationship towards God and True Parents. I have a sense of new determination, focus and zeal to pursue my goals, happiness and original value. It has been a spiritual boost that will undoubtedly propel me forward in my journey.”
“This workshop was very helpful. It was also challenging because it made me look at my personal situation and see some areas in my life that urgently need improvement. I realised that I care about this community. And I want to give something to it. I want to invest my heart for God’s plan A for my life. I want to learn to love and not remain only a shadow of my true self. I believe I can make a meaningful contribution and I want to take the chance to do that.”
“This workshop was life-giving. It’s like I came home to family after a long journey. I find myself more inspired and with new confidence to grow.”
“This ODP+ felt like exactly what I needed right now to centre myself more and re-connect to God and to my spirituality, and also to gain confidence in myself and my values.
I felt lost spiritually and overwhelmed, not really knowing why or how to work on this. I feel I have genuinely gained confidence here. I have been able to re-connect to God. I am finally moving towards where I want to go, instead of feeling stuck and stumbling in the dark. I am now on my way and I feel relieved and excited.”
“The ODP+ was a great experience. The atmosphere was so high-spirited and I gained a lot of clarity on what I should do next on my life journey. Sharing with people about our beliefs is so meaningful; it’s the only way we can create the holy community we want.”
“These last years, life hasn’t been great and I lost the desire to develop a life of faith and a relationship with God – and to put my trust and faith into the movement. ODP+ has lit a flame that gives me hope for myself. It has shown me a side of me that I thought was buried. I feel like a whole person again. This excitement and desire to grow is something I missed.”
“I found the content to be really refreshing. I had quite an emotional experience during that last reflection activity before our final group discussion. I felt a deep sense of belonging at the workshop and with that community. It was something I was unsure of before, do I belong here? Do I fit in? Could this be home for me? And bit by bit my doubt was washed away through the WS and I can feel a profound sense of “I belong”. Which meant a lot to me as that’s often what we all want deep down, a sense of belonging and place where we can be ourselves and be real.”
“There is something so special about connecting and sharing things deeply with people who are striving towards the same ideals and who share the same roots. One of the key take-aways for me was to realise that we don’t have to and actually also can’t achieve these ideals as individuals, that we do need companions of faith in our life and that community and connection are of significant importance.”