From Humble Beginnings to a Global Legacy
This week in history, May 8-14:
- Harlem, New York welcomes True Parents (May 8, 2001)
- A tribute to True Parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary and “Legacy of Peace” honorees is held (May 9, 2010)
- True Father completes the original text of the Divine Principle (May 10, 1952)
- True Mother celebrates 50 years of the Unification Movement in Europe (May 10, 2015)
- Student members expelled from Ewha Womans University (May 11, 1955)
- True Father receives an honorary Doctorate from Shaw University Divinity School (May 11, 1985)
- True Mother, UPF and FFWPU designate a donation of $1 million to Nepal earthquake victims (May 11, 2015)
- The first MEPI Pilgrimage begins (May 12, 2003)
- The New Yorker Hotel is purchased (May 13, 1976)
- “True Parents and the Completed Testament Age” speaking tour begins (May 13, 1993)
May 8, 2001
Harlem, New York Welcomes True Parents
Some 2,800 clergy and faithful packed Harlem’s historic Canaan Baptist Church on Tuesday evening, March 8, 2001, to welcome True Parents and a host of national religious leaders. The visit, at the invitation of New York clergy and hosted by civil rights pioneer Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, celebrated the successful interfaith tour of 52 cities in 52 days entitled “We Will Stand.” With the theme “Rebuild the Family, Restore the Community, Renew the Nation and World,” the tour emphasized the need for the faith community to work together beyond race and denomination for the healing and renewal of America. The tour reached over 100,000 people, including 14,000 clergy. True Father’s keynote address was “God Is Our King and True Parent.” He explained that to establish a new era, all people of faith must follow three immutable laws. First, he said, do not stain your lineage through sexual immorality and infidelity. Second, he said, do not infringe upon or violate human rights, which are based upon the equal value of every human being in the eyes of God. Third, do not steal or abuse money or property selfishly, at the expense of others. His direct and challenging words drew strong applause and repeated shouts of “Amen.”
May 9, 2010
A Tribute to True Parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary and “Legacy of Peace” Honorees
Twelve hundred guests gathered in the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas to pay tribute to the 50th wedding anniversary of True Parents and participate in the final “Legacy of Peace” program in a series that began at the United Nations in March. Organized by the Universal Peace Federation, the event focused on True Parents’ lifelong vision to establish a global community of nations and religions—an “Abel UN”—guided by the ideal of “one family under God.” It was held during the year of True Father’s 90th birthday and the publication of his autobiography. The “Legacy of Peace” program honored those recently deceased persons who had contributed to the cause of world peace during their lifetime. Highlights of the program included interfaith prayer by religious leaders, congratulatory remarks by Neil Bush, and True Father’s three-hour speech on “The Establishment of the Abel UN and the Completion of God’s Kingdom of Cheon Il Guk in Korea.”
May 10, 1952
True Father Completes the Original Text of the Divine Principle
Front cover of the original Divine Principle manuscript
In his autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, True Father states that he began writing the original version of Divine Principle (Wolli Wonbon) in a shelter for laborers in Pusan. This was in late April or May 1951. He continued writing it after he moved in August with Won Pil Kim, his first disciple, to a small hut they constructed on a hillside overlooking Pusan Harbor. True Father spent much of his time writing on top of a large rock. He would write several pages a day and have Won Pil Kim read them back to him at night. Sometimes True Father worked by the light of a lantern in their hut. Won Pil Kim recounts that True Father woke him once in the middle of the night and dictated an entire section which Won Pil Kim recorded non-stop. True Father noted that on the day he finished writing Wolli Wonbon, he put his pencil down and prayed, “The moment has come for me to evangelize. Please send me the saints to whom I may give witness.” That very day, Hyun Shil Kang, a young female theological student, visited the hut to evangelize and became a follower. Copies of Wolli Wonbon circulated as hand-written manuscripts for several years until superseded by Wolli Haesul (Explanation of Divine Principle) in 1957.
May 10, 2015
True Mother Celebrates 50 Years of the Unification Movement in Europe
In August 1954, David Sang Cheol Kim went to Wales as the first Unificationist overseas missionary. In June 1963, Peter Koch arrived in Germany as the first Unificationist missionary to the European mainland. However, the European Unification Movement considers True Father’s visit to Europe in July 1965, as part of his first worldwide tour through 40 countries, to be its true beginning. At that time, True Father dedicated 19 Holy Grounds in Europe, planting Korean soil and stones in various cities such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg, Paris, Geneva, Vaduz, Vienna, Rome and Athens. In a series of events from May 9 to 15, 2015, the European movement celebrated its 50th anniversary. The major event was in Vienna, Austria, on May 10, when True Mother spoke to a gathering of over 2,400 friends and members from all over Europe in Vienna’s largest conference hall. True Mother said, “I came here today with a fluttering heart—with the heart a parent experiences when visiting a daughter after sending her off to marriage fifty years earlier, the heart felt when visiting a son that had left home.” She noted that “Christianity and Christian culture bloomed centered on Europe” and called on Unificationists to “awaken European Christians, who are unaware that the returning Messiah … has emerged as the True Parents and that for fifty years they have accomplished amazing things.”
May 11, 1955
Student Members Expelled from Ewha Womans University
Ewha Womans University expelled students for the simple reason of their attending the Unification Church. This case represents the religious oppression that occurred just a year after the founding of the Unification Church. The school, which has a Christian background, had fired five professors the previous March for the same reason. Later, these expelled students transferred to Sookmyung Women’s University and other universities to complete their studies. (Materials provided by the FFWPU History Compilation Committee.)
May 11, 1985
True Father Receives Honorary Doctorate from Shaw University Divinity School
True Mother accepts an honorary doctorate on True Father’s behalf from Shaw Divinity School in North Carolina.
On May 11, 1985, Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, North Carolina, awarded True Father an honorary doctorate of divinity. The award was especially meaningful in that Shaw made the award while True Father was incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution at Danbury, Connecticut. Dr. Joseph Paige, Shaw University’s executive vice president, later declared, “It was the first time that a major institution in America had been bold enough and honest enough and serious enough to honor this great leader.” He said True Father was being awarded for “his Christian leadership, his strong fight against communism and communist aggression, and his outstanding contribution in support of religious liberty, world peace, racial, economic and social justice, ecumenism and, more specifically, the unity of world Christianity.” True Mother accepted the award for True Father and delivered the acceptance speech. She stated that True Father shared with Shaw University and the Divinity School a commitment to international, interreligious and interracial harmony.
May 11, 2015
True Mother, UPF and FFWPU Designate a Donation of $1 million to Nepal Earthquake Victims
On April 25, 2015, a major earthquake killed over 8,000 people and injured more than 21,000 in Nepal. It was the worst disaster in that country since 1934. It also triggered a landslide on Mount Everest that killed 21 people. Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless, with entire villages flattened across many districts of the country. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed at UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley. In response, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) and True Mother designated a donation of US $1 million to Nepal to be used as relief for the victims.
Of this amount, $500,000 went to the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund, while the other half went to FFWPU-Nepal for distribution. Ek Nath Dhakal, chairman of UPF Nepal, said, “These funds will be utilized to provide relief and recovery to the earthquake victims.” Prime Minister Sushil Koirala was quoted as saying: “We clearly remember all the great work of Father and Mother Moon to Nepal. For that reason, Nepal has a high regard for Father and Mother Moon.” The Nepalese had received True Parents very well at the national level on numerous occasions.
May 12, 2003
The First MEPI Pilgrimage Tour Begins
At the height of the Second Intifada (2000-2005) and the beginning of the second Iraq War, True Parents launched what was to become the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI), a project initially of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace and later of its successor, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). The MEPI concept was based upon True Father’s vision of interreligious peacemaking and his conviction that the resolution of conflict, particularly in Israel, was integral to world peace. This was especially true for the Middle East. True Father believed that Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders needed to resolve their differences as a condition for the cessation of violence. This lay behind his call for Christian clergy to “take down the cross” and undertake a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to be reconciled with their Jewish brethren. The first of the MEPI pilgrimages took place from May 12 to 19, 2003, and included 131 clergy. They traveled first to Rome, and then to Israel. They visited holy and historical sites at both locations. However, their main purposes were to bury the cross and reconcile, at least symbolically, with Jewish brethren, both of which they accomplished. Thousands of interreligious peacemakers traveled to the Holy Land under MEPI auspices between 2003 and 2014. MEPI events have included peace missions and fact-finding tours, service and youth activities, cultural programs, and conferences.
May 13, 1976
The New Yorker Hotel Purchased
The Unification Church purchased the New Yorker Hotel at Eighth Avenue and 34th Street in the New York City borough of Manhattan on May 13, 1976. The 43-story, 1,083-room hotel, which first opened in 1930, is near Pennsylvania Station, Madison Square Garden, Times Square and the Empire State Building. Much like its contemporaries the Empire State Building (1931) and the Chrysler Building (1930), the New Yorker was designed in the Art Deco style popular at the time. When the 1 million-square-foot hotel opened, it contained 2,500 rooms, making it the city’s largest for many years and one of the most fashionable during the 1940s and 1950s. A pronounced decline in New York’s fortunes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, coupled with the construction of new, more modern hotels, caused the New Yorker to become unprofitable, and it was vacant for several years before being purchased by the church for a reported $5.6 million. It served as the Unification Church’s World Mission Center from 1976 to 1994. In 1994, the church converted a portion of the building to use as a hotel again. The New Yorker joined the Ramada chain in 2000 and the Wyndham chain in 2014. The New Yorker served as a staging area for the 1982 Holy Blessing of 2,075 Couples in Madison Square Garden and for many of True Parents’ speeches and providential activities.
May 13, 1993
“True Parents and the Completed Testament Age” Speaking Tour Begins
On January 10, 1993, True Father announced the transition that day “to the Completed Testament Era.” Three months later, on April 10, the Unification Church published a statement, “True Parents and the Completed Testament Age,” in the newspapers of 160 nations. The next month, on May 13, True Parents began a speaking tour of 33 U.S. cities under the same theme. True Father spoke in the first 12 cities from May 13 to 24. True Mother then covered 21 cities from May 26 to June 28. The tour was extended to include 23 additional cities during July, thereby covering all fifty states. True Mother delivered the address at the U.S. Capitol and the United Nations, which was a springboard to the world tour. She conducted 25 rallies in Japan, 40 in Korea, and another 40 in countries throughout the world.
The speech testified to “the establishment of the first True Family.” True Father declared: “My wife and I, together with our thirteen children and twenty-four grandchildren, are absolutely dedicated to serving God and humanity. With three generations in one family, we have achieved on the family level the central root, the central trunk and the central bud of the ‘Tree of Life’ mentioned in the Bible. It is our sincere hope that you will symbolically graft into this lineage by joining us in our efforts to create an ideal nation and world. This marks the beginning of the Completed Testament Age.”
This Week in History briefly lists significant events in the history of the Unification Church, the lives of the Founders, and world events that are momentous to Unificationists. Most items are marked according to the solar calendar. Items marked “H.C.” correspond to the Cheon-gi or Heavenly Calendar, which is based on the lunar calendar. This installment covers the week of May 8 – 13.
Contributed by Dr. Michael Mickler, professor of church history at Unification Theological Seminary.