The Early Unification Church History
THE BEGINNING IN OREGON
After arriving in the United States, Young Oon Kim began her mission in Eugene. She entered the United States on a student visa for study at the University of Oregon.
She witnessed to people, and spoke to church groups whenever and wherever she could. She once traveled to a church conference in Chicago. Her original method of approaching people was to give her moving testimony about meeting Reverend Moon, and then tell them about his revelation revealed in the Divine Principle.
In the meantime, she constantly worked to develop the Divine Principle, constantly looking for better ways to express it in English. She once tried to have an early version proofread, the woman proofreading it totally forgot what she was doing and became engrossed with the contents, attacking every page from her understanding of the bible. She perpetually worked on the early version of the Divine Principle always trying revise and improve the writing. She wrote with simplicity, clarity and an economy of words.
During one period, to support herself she worked as a servant for a family, taking care of children and an elderly man. She did many household chores. This was great step down, she was reared in a family where everything was done for her including cooking and cleaning chores. She had been a university professor. To serve as a household servant was a humbling experience.
She later devised a plan for some income. She borrowed a sum of money from a local bank, then sent the money to Korea. A friend invested it at an extremely high interest rate. Miss Kim was able to live off the interest. She had little money, but it was also in her nature to never waste a penny. During that time she lived on fifteen dollars a month for food. It now seems impossible, but at the time it could be done by eating a very spartan but healthy diet.
THE FIRST MEMBER
Before Miss Kim left on her mission to America, Reverend Moon told her that she would be rejected by 120 people before one person that would accept and become a member.
Her first member in Eugene was Eileen Welch, who was married at the time and with one son. She was not the first to hear or study the Divine Principle, but the first to fully understand it's significance, and accept Reverend Moon, and his mission. Based on those qualifications she is the first member in the United States. When does one become a member? It comes when one understands Reverend Moon's mission, accepts him and the of the Divine Principle. Becoming a member is not from when a person was witnessed to, or first attended meetings.
THE FIRST SMALL GROUP
In the early spring of 1960, Patty and I lived on Oak Hill with our three boys. Oak Hill is a ridge of hills in a rural area west of Eugene, Oregon. Oak Hill Drive is a road running along the base of the ridge on the east side. The road that we all lived on is now known as Cantrell Road. Patty and I lived on top of the hill in an old farm house, just as the road started down the hill. At the bottom of the hill to the east, at the North West corner of Cantrell and Oak Hill lived Pauline. She lived with her husband at the time and three daughters. Down the hill to the West, on Cantrell Road near the bottom of the hill and across a field to the south, was Doris's home. She lived there with her husband, a daughter and young son.
Doris had a strong Christian background and attended a church in Eugene and sang in the choir. It was in the choir that she met Eileen. Eileen witnessed to her and introduced her to Miss Kim. Doris then arranged for Miss Kim to come to her home for lunch and give her presentation to Pauline and Patty. They listened as she gave her fascinating testimony. When she finished with her testimony she then loaned Patty and Pauline copies of the first six chapters of the Divine Principle to read. At the time, Miss Kim had first six chapters of the Divine Principle mimeographed and bound in a blue folder - the type used for school essays and term papers. The last six chapters was in the process of being mimeographed.
I was given the job of baby-sitting the kids while Patty met Miss Kim at Doris's home, and not having the slightest idea what she was about to get us into. Patty brought the Divine Principle home, and took precautions to keep it hidden from me. After I left for work on the evening shift at the plywood mill, she read the entire six chapters. As Pauline and Patty read these crudely written first six chapters they immediately recognized Reverend Moon and recognized the truth in this revelation. Such quick acceptance is much more than an intellectual understanding but it comes from an accumulated spiritual heritage.
This was the system that Miss Kim was using at the time. She gave her testimony to Reverend Moon and the Divine Principle. Afterwards, she answered questions and to those who were interested she gave the first six chapters of the Divine Principle. After reading it, if they showed an interest she would meet with them answer questions and lend the last six chapters. Above all, she always told people to pray about it, do not believe me but ask God if what I bring is true, he will give you a definite answer.
Miss Kim said there were three reasons that justified her committing her life to Reverend Moon and his teachings. She said that any one of the three reasons in itself would be justification for accepting him as a leader and the Divine Principle. First, she had been studying the Bible and religion her entire life. She also studied the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and had a much better understanding of the spirit world than most Christians. But, nowhere was there such a clear explanation of Christianity as the one given by Reverend Moon. His teachings clearly explained the Bible and Jesus--in a very different way than the convoluted theology and doctrines of Christian orthodoxy. A better explanation of so many previously unanswered questions about Christianity could be found nowhere. He clearly understood and explained the spirit world, something totally lost in later day Christianity. Nowhere was their anything clearer than the teachings of Reverend Moon.
Second, nowhere had she seen a religious leader with such leadership qualities; nowhere a person that was working harder for and more in tune with the heart of God. Because of his leadership, if nothing else, Reverend Moon a person worth accepting and working with.
Third, here is a man that God testified to directly. There are many devoted Christians, who lived a life of prayer and devotion to Jesus, and did not know Reverend Moon existed. They were led to him directly through spiritual experiences. God always fulfills his dispensations through one person and here is the one person being testified to. If God testifies to someone how can you help but accept.
Anyone of these three reasons would justify following this man. So with just these three reasons working for him it presents a very powerful case for the genuineness of Sun Myung Moon.
That is the way the first members were presented the Divine Principle and ultimately, Reverend Moon. Crude perhaps when compared with today’s presentations, however it was very personal, which is probably still the secret of presenting and teaching the Divine Principle, and finding members.
So, right there on Oak Hill, Miss Kim found a handful of members. Doris Orme, Pauline Verhyen, Patty Pumphrey and Galen Pumphrey. Eileen Lemmers, was already a member when we joined. George Norton, who worked in the plywood plant with me, came in during those first few months. Even some of the children who lived on Oak Hill, years later, would be active in the Unification Church. These early members were the foundation of members that would became the Unification Church in the United States. The first group of members, that came in under Miss Kim, joined during that spring of 1960. All remained actively involved with the church and it's activities for many years.
THE EARLY MEETINGS
The early meetings were held on evenings in the middle of the week at the Eugene Women's Club. The Eugene Women's Club is located at 450 East 14th Street. It looks much the same today as it did in 1960, with the exception of nearly 40 years of growth on the trees on the street. Miss Kim had a room there at the time the members first joined. It was conveniently located near the university and the club provided several low rent rooms, with kitchen privileges for girls. The girls were mostly foreign students.
At these meetings we sang, studied the Divine Principle and prayed. We sang hymns from the red army navy hymnals of Miss Kim's. They were given to her by a United States Army chaplain she worked for in Korea. At the study sessions, we had many questions to ask about this Divine Principle and Reverend Moon -- whom we were not to meet for another five years.
Miss Kim told us the church in Korea was very small with maybe 500 members throughout Korea--possibly even a slight exaggeration--and very poor. We collected money from a few of our members and sent them a donation of $100. Later we were told with the money they bought straw mats and a stove for the church. Until that time the church was unheated with bare wood floors. Miss Kim said when they cleaned the floor before service, the moisture froze on the bare wood. The members came in and knelt on the floor through long church services.
One evening, Miss Kim held a special meeting in her room in Eugene. She was dressed in her best Korean dress, and held a special meeting, with deep prayer, and said this was an occasion of special importance. She did not reveal specifically the nature of the special occasion. It was on April 15th, 1960, we had been members for only a short period of time. We later learned it was the blessing of Sun Myung Moon. We could not understand the full significance the time. I was working at the plywood plant that evening and could not attend.
Sometime later, Miss Kim received a package from Korea. It was food from the wedding feast. At the banquet, Reverend Moon, selected food from the table and set it aside for the American family. He selected food that wasn't perishable and sent it America, so the American family could partake of the wedding feast also. Miss Kim always kept him informed of her activities and of the new members.