True Mother’s American Speaking Tour
True Mother embarked on a 16-city speaking tour from April 1-16, 1998 under the banner: “Blessed Marriage and Eternal Life”. She spoke in Chicago, Dallas, Boston, St. Louis, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Bridgeport, Richmond, Louisville, Manhattan, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Minneapolis and Toronto. At each stop, Unificationists gathered with True Father at East Garden in Tarrytown, NY, listening to True Mother’s address via live feed.
True Mother speaks at the Manhattan Center in New York during her American speaking tour, while True Father participates at East Garden as part of his condition to support True Mother’s leadership.
Unificationists pulled together to make each city stop a big event featuring dignitaries, professors and clergy as well as support from many affiliate organizations such as Women’s Federation for World Peace and American Clergy Leadership Conference among others. True Mother presented three Hoon Dok Hwe books (scriptural books for study in the family) to representative dignitaries, professors and clergy present at each event.
After each event, True Father would call True Mother and together with blessed families on both ends they would celebrate the day together over the phone with songs, cake and words of encouragement.
With the support and teamwork of local Christian churches, over 3,000 guests filled the Grand Ballroom of Chicago’s downtown Marriott in anticipation of True Mother’s arrival. Special effort was made leading up to the event, with local Unificationists investing in consistent outreach to local churches. Each couple took responsibility for a specific church, visiting and becoming a part of the community there, and regularly attended events and Bible studies. When it came time to prepare for True Mother’s arrival, these partnerships were essential in helping to make the program happen and filling up the event hall.
People from over 50 churches filled up 39 buses, organized by a local Unificationist to help transport people to the event, and boxed lunches were provided for the guests on the bus. Despite the complication of the event being held on Good Friday, many of the ministers rearranged their own services or made True Mother’s visit a part of their congregation’s celebration.
The ballroom was overflowing with prominent members of the community. Representatives from the U.S. Congress, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, the Nation of Islam, the Sikh Community, the Lutheran Church, the Baptist Church and the Church of God in Christ lined the stage to receive the gift of True Father’s speech volumes from True Mother and to present proclamations honoring True Parents.
The powerful speech was met with choruses of “Amen,” “Praise the Lord!” and “Hallelujah,” from the inspired crowd. The whole room erupted in a standing ovation as True Mother concluded the speech and accepted a bouquet of flowers from a local couple, and two special plaques from the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Coalition of Religious Leaders.
Celebrations continued long after the event, with a cake cutting, singing and dancing that lasted for hours. True Father was able to speak and hear the festivities over a phone connection as well. The Chicago community was thrilled to be able to see True Mother once again the following morning for a quick visit and Hoon Dok Hwe before she headed off for the next stop on the tour.
Over 500 people attended True Mother’s visit to Dallas. The local community came together beside community leaders and pastors to welcome True Mother. Mrs. Roxanna Carranza Lopez, personal assistant to the Consul General of El Salvador, was among the guests, and was so happy to receive the gift of Hoon Kok Hwe books. Other notable guests were Rev. Rufus Kyles, Superintendent of the Thanks Progressive Evangelistic District, C.O.G.I.C., and on the mayor’s ministerial Advisory Board; Dr. Lonnie Kliever, the director of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University; Dr. Ronald Flowers, professor of religion and Chairman of the Department of Religion at Texas Christian University; and Minister Robert Muhammad, Southwest Regional Representative of the Hon. Louis Farrakhan. About 70 guests of the Nation of Islam were in attendance and welcomed True Mother warmly.
Along with longtime contacts, many ministers came for the first time and introduced members of their congregation to True Mother, even joining in at the victory party after the speech. The room was electric as True Mother came down from the stage to present the Hoon Dok Hwe books, and all of the guests received them gratefully. Many of the local members worked extremely hard to make the event happen, and were thrilled to have had such a successful and positive experience.
The New England region was ignited with the spirit of True Mother as she came to Boston on Friday, April 3. Unificationists in the region had been preparing months ahead of time, even doing a 40-day all night prayer devotion. The organizers felt that God was guiding the preparation process, as they were able to secure the Hon Hancock Hall for the speech, the same place True Father had spoken 25 years prior on the Day of Hope Tour in 1973.
Over 700 guests filled the hall, with 36 community leaders and ministers signing a promise of support for True Parents. Minister Jabbar Muhammad received Hoon Dok Hwe books at the event on behalf of the Nation of Islam, and later shared how inspired he had been by the whole event. He asked for the dates and locales for the rest of the tour so that he could broadcast it on the local Nation of Islam radio program and encourage all his members to pray for the tour.
One of the guests, a six term Massachusetts state senator, joined the celebrations after the speech and even sang a song for True Parents. In True Mother’s closing words to the group during the celebration, she told everyone to think, “not just one nation under God, but one world under God” and encouraged everyone to bring more people to the Marriage Blessing.
All of the local Unificationists were full of joy in being able to welcome True Mother and hear her words. So many helped to organize, plan and mobilize in order to make the day a success.
The St. Louis region had been in existence for little over a year when they were asked to prepare for True Mother’s visit. It was a challenge, but through the help of many devoted Unificationists from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, the “Heartland region” pulled together to make it happen.
True Mother read the speech “Blessed Marriage and Eternal Life” to a hall filled with people from various racial, religious and cultural backgrounds. The audience was warm and enthusiastic. Among the attendants was U.S. Senator Christopher Bond, who met True Mother at the airport upon her arrival. St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon offered a proclamation establishing April 4, 1998 as the “Day of Renewing America and Our Families” in St. Louis, and eight community leaders received Hoon Dok Hwe books from True Mother. Recipients included: Dr. Fran Benham, Director of Library Services at St. Louis University; Rev. Dr. Irma Cannida, Director of Wonderful World of Women; Rev. Dr. William Collins, retired Baptist pastor, retired seminary professor and member of the Board of Directors of Eden Theological Seminary; Rev. Michael West, bishop of St. Michael’s Temple; Rev. James Stewart, bishop of Pentecostal Saints Tabernacle; Denise Muhammad, assistant minister of St. Louis chapter of Nation of Islam; Evangelist Ruth Coney, St. Louis Director of Women Aglow; and Rev. Leonard Wrice, Christian Service Center.
The community expressed a sense of a shared bond in the way they all worked together to make the day a success, and renewed hope for the many great things to come.
“I’m the Mother of Oakland but Mrs. Moon is the True Mother of the World,” declared special guest Mary Anne Wright at the celebration following True Mother’s speech at the Jewitt Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Berkeley California. The audience was captivated by True Mother’s dignity and the depth of True Father’s words. After the speech, True Mother spoke briefly to church elders and inspired everyone to work hard toward accomplishing God’s work.
At the event itself, the audience felt an air of expectation and wonder. The crowd connected deeply with True Mother and to True Father’s speech that she was reading. Book recipients included the Institute for the Study of American Religions located at the University of Santa Barbara, Graduate Theological Union Library, consortium of nine seminaries located at Berkeley, the Bishop of the Church of God in Christ in Oakland, Minister Keith Muhammad of the Nation of Islam and of course Mother Wright. Mother Wright made up a song to sing to True Parents at the victory celebration and she summed up the whole evening with the words: “It was richer than rich, greater than great.”
True Mother was welcomed to Atlanta, Georgia on the fitting day of Palm Sunday. About 1,000 people came out to see her as she spoke and introduced the new Hoon Dok Hwe books. The air was cool, and the sky was bright and sunny. All around Atlanta, the buds on the dogwood trees and the azalea bushes were just beginning to open.
Later that afternoon, Mother was greeted by some of the most influential leaders of Atlanta and the Southeast: Civil Rights Champion Dr. Hosea Williams; a State Representative on two powerful committees; President Seuk Hee Lee of the 50,000 member Atlanta Korean Association; a past Dean of Students of Clark-Atlanta University; Dr. Jacob Quiambao, past President of Union Theological Seminary of The Philippines; Southern Regional Minister Jamil Muhammad of the Nation of Islam; Ms. Portia Scott, the Senior Editor of the Atlanta Daily World, the nation’s oldest African-American newspaper; Mrs. Karla Brandau of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints; talk show host Ms. Alberta Grant; Dr. Lonnie Edwards, Sr., the Assistant Superintendent of the Dekalb County Schools; Dr. Al Stewart, President of the Institute of the Christian World with projects in Atlanta and in three African countries; and Dr. Charles A. Carpenter, the Director of Pastoral Care and Clinical Psychology at a major regional hospital.
Mayor Bill Campbell of Atlanta recognized True Mother’s speaking tour by proclaiming April 5, 1998 as “The Day of Blessed Marriage.” The cities of Marietta, East Point, Stone Mountain, Doraville and Clayton County also sent proclamations recognizing April 5th as “The Day of Blessed Marriage.” The Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney also welcomed True Mother to Atlanta with their letters. Speaker Gingrich wrote, “Your efforts to strengthen family values are essential to the future of America… My best wishes to you as you continue your speaking tour.”
A riveting video presentation entitled “Toward World Peace” brought many in the audience to tears, and True Mother herself choked up several times during her speech with the audience rapt at attention.
Eight dignitaries from Atlanta and the Southeast were honored to receive the Hoon Dok Hwe books, including Rev. Dr. Hosea Williams, who acted as Dr. Martin Luther King’s Field General. Dr. Williams offered remarks saying, “Rev. Moon’s family movement might just be the movement that will save America.”
Twelve hundred guests including local dignitaries were present on April 2, when True Mother gave the keynote address at the Mertens Theater of the Arnold Bernhard Art and Humanities Center. Among those in attendance were President Richard Rubenstein, Dr. Betty Rubenstein, Bishop Skyers of the Apostolic Faith Church, Mr. Rodney Dennis, representing the ABCD community action agency, Prof. Thomas Juliusburger, Director of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Rev. De Kock of the Creative Word Power Ministry, Rev. Jacob David of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, NJ, Dr. Zal Velvez, Deputy Mayor of West Orange, NJ, and Mr. Nicholas Pastor, former police chief of New Haven, CT. Over 200 students from the University of Bridgeport along with local Unificationists also came to show their support. “We came out to support Mrs. Moon,” commented local Unificationist, Naoka Toda, senior at University of Bridgeport at the time. “She is a role model for young women who are committed to building families and establish themselves as professionals.”
On the holy day of Easter morning, April 12, the weather cleared from a storm the day before as True Mother’s plane landed at LAX for her appearance in Los Angeles. At the Westin Hotel, ministers, scholars, business leaders and government officials were among the crowd of 1500 people gathered for the event.
The audience enjoyed entertainment from the International Children’s Choir, St. Thomas Missionary Baptist Church and others, and were even more inspired by the speech itself.
After the event and the presentation of books to various community leaders and clergy, True Mother spoke with True Father via video phone. The video phone was a gift from the Los Angeles community, and True Parents were surprised and pleased to receive it and to be able to use it for the celebration. True Parents sang songs and celebrated with many of the guests well into the evening.
True Mother embraced an overflow crowd at the Korean Canadian Cultural Center in Toronto, Canada on April 16, as a conclusion to her 16-city tour across North America. The auditorium was packed within 15 minutes, with more and more chairs added until it eventually became standing room only. The crowd of over 500 people gathered from all walks of life, religions and cultures to support the event and listen to True Mother.
Diane da Camara, a local opera singer, wowed the crowd with musical selections, before welcoming remarks from Rev. Michael Jenkins.
Proclamations were given from Mayor Peter Robertson of Brampton, a neighboring city with a population of 300,000. Other acknowledgments included welcome letters to True Mother from Mike Harris, Premier (governor) of Ontario, Mel Lastman, Mayor of Toronto, and numerous other welcome letters from provincial and city government leaders. Of special note was a plaque awarded to True Mother from the Minister Don Muhammad of the Nation of Islam towards her work strengthening families worldwide.
Flowers and plaques were presented in appreciation after the moving speech. The audience stayed attentive throughout the program, and were especially inspired by the keynote address. True Mother presented the three books of a 15-volume abridged collection of 40 years of True Father’s teachings to eight local dignitaries. These distinguished recipients were: Mr. Hussein Ackbarally, Principal of the IQRA Islamic School; Rev. Dr. Petro Bilaniuk, Right Rev. Mitrophoric Archpriest and Professor, University of Toronto; Dr. Bob Carter, Professor of Philosophy, Trent University; Dr. Jack Edwards, Pro-Family Lobby Coordinator, Canadian Family Action Committee; Father Terry Gallagher, Scarborough Catholic Mission; Mr. Amouzou Komi Nicolas, Minister Counsellor, Embassy of Togo; Capt. Kenneth Ritson, The Salvation Army; and Mr. Jun Kyung Suh, President, Korean Canadian Association.
Diane de Camara sang, “Fill the World with Love”, and the evening ended with door prizes and refreshments.
The outreach efforts from the local community, as well as Japanese missionaries, were a huge support in making the day a success. It was truly a blessing for those gathered to welcome True Mother and to celebrate the conclusion of the tour together in Toronto.