A History of the Unification Church in Canada: 1965-1991
by Franco Famularo
Significant events during the period following the establishment of four autonomous regions were: an intensive outreach campaign in Halifax beginning in July 1991; the founding of the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP) in January 1992; the participation of about forty Canadian members at the Blessing of 30,000 couples in August 1992; and most importantly, Mrs. Moon's first public speech in Canada in 1993.
On November 8, 1993, in the Railroad Committee Room of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Mrs. Moon addressed an overflow audience of over three hundred fifty dignitaries, parliamentarians and guests from all over Canada. The overflow watched the speech on closed circuit TV in adjacent space. Mrs. Moon's speech in Ottawa was part of a world-wide speaking tour in which she proclaimed the message "True Parents and the Completed Testament Age" in more than forty countries.
At the meeting in Ottawa, Mrs. Moon was introduced to the distinguished audience by the former Governor General of Canada, Dr. Edward Schreyer.1 In attendance were five members of parliament, fifteen ambassadors, a number of senatorial aides, and several community leaders. Proclamations and letters of support for the activities of Mrs. Moon and the WFWP were received prior to the meeting from sixty-two leading Canadians which included, the then Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn, former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, the premiers of most Canadian provinces, and the mayors of many major Canadian cities. Mrs. Moon also received two awards for her work, one of which was from the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa.2
The program moderated by Robert Duffy, began with Rev. Dr. Petro Bilaniuk giving an invocation of peace from the writings of St. Basil the Great, followed by a musical performance by soloist Sophie-Marie Martel and harpist Caroline Lizotte. After a video presentation on the work of the WFWP and an introduction by Dr. Schreyer, Mrs. Moon gave her speech. It was one of the most significant speeches of Rev. and Mrs. Moon's ministry until that time. To an attentive and polite audience, who simultaneously read the text in either English or French as she spoke, Mrs. Moon began her speech as follows:
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for coming here today. As leading citizens of Canada, you possess the responsibility of guiding your nation into the next millennium. The promise of a peaceful and prosperous future depends directly upon the collective actions we take today.3
The speech, which lasted over one hour, covered in outline form the entire contents of the Divine Principle and introduced the life course of Rev. Moon. It further discussed the numerous social problems faced by people of the 20th century and offered as a solution, the ideal of "true love". In her speech, Mrs. Moon suggested that the root cause of all human misery was the destruction of humanity's loving relationship with God. Moreover, Mrs. Moon explained that the historical foundation had been laid for the return of the Messiah in the 20th century. She elaborated that the Messiah, who set the example for a restored relationship with God, came as the True Parents of all humanity to establish a "True Family". Toward the conclusion of her speech she announced the following:
Based upon this foundation, my husband and I can now stand on a world wide level as the first True Parents. As True Parents, we are ushering in the Completed Testament Age. ... Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great privilege to announce to you the establishment of the first completed True Family. My husband and I, together with our 13 children and 20 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 (grandparents), the central trunk (parents), and the central bud (children) of the "Tree of Life" mentioned in the Bible. It is our sincere hope that you will symbolically graft into the tree by joining us in our efforts to create an ideal nation and world. This marks the beginning of the Completed Testament Age.4
It was undoubtedly, for Rev. and Mrs. Moon and all Unificationists, a historic announcement to the people of Canada. Only time would tell whether the people of Canada, who heard the proclamation, also recognized it could be historic.
The story of the Unification Church in Canada is not over. In the quarter-century since Linna Miller Rapkins and Marie Leckrone Ang established a permanent mission in Toronto, the church developed through several phases which included success and failure, unity and division, external opposition and internal solidarity. Each period featured the members' efforts to proclaim the return of the Messiah and find new members who would do the same. During the early pioneer period, led by Linna Rapkins and Katharine Bell, the activities of a handful of members were primarily centered around Toronto. Through the more centralized era led by Robert Duffy, Martin Porter and Paul Werner, the church continued to grow in membership and established a foothold in several Canadian cities. It also developed ideological, inter-religious and economic activities. The decentralized period is characterized by autonomous regions, the introduction of oriental leadership and a church comprised mostly of families with children rather than single unmarried members. However, the church in Canada never gained more than a few hundred core members, and most certainly was never as influential as media reports suggested. Nevertheless, the development of the church in Canada cannot be viewed in isolation from the international activities of Rev. Moon and the Unification movement.
When Rev. Moon first visited Ottawa in 1965, there was no Unificationist mission in Canada. Furthermore, Rev. Moon and the Unification Church were hardly known outside of Korea. Yet, twenty- eight years later, Mrs. Moon proclaimed the message "True Parents and the Completed Testament Age" to a distinguished audience in the Canadian Parliament Buildings, the seat of Canadian political power. In the view of Unificationists, this was the work of God. Others view the Unification Church as insignificant and as being on the fringe of human society. Only time will tell whether the Unification Church will indeed become an influential force throughout the world or, as some have suggested, a passing phenomenon.
Because the story of the Unification Church in Canada has yet no conclusion, many questions remain unanswered. Concerning the period covered by this account, there are questions such as why the church grew when it did and why it did not grow when it didn't? Why has it survived in spite of both its internal difficulties and external pressures? How did the view of "outsiders" such as the media, compare with the actual reality of the church? How did Canada's unique religious environment contribute to the growth and/or stagnation of the church? How will the church resolve its own search for identity and recognition? These and other questions require answers which are for the most part complex, and will be the subject of a future study.
1. Robert Duffy. "Report from Mother's Tour." Today's World. December, 1993. p. 16.
2. Interview with Daniel Stringer. March 5, 1994.
3. Hak Ja Han Moon. "True Parents and the Completed Testament Age." November 8, 1993. Ottawa: Women's Federation for World Peace. 1993. p. 1.
4. Ibid. pp. 25-27.
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