The Early Unification Church History

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In 1959, Young Oon Kim arrived in the United States with a mission to bring the message of Reverend Moon to the Western World, and I was fortunate to meet Young Oon Kim, learn about the Divine Principle from her and to be an early participant in establishing the Unification Church in the United States. She is now gone but I am sure more active than ever. To many, she is only a name and to many new members the name has no meaning.

Many times I am asked about the early church by members who want to know about the roots of the Unification Church in the United States. Except for occasional articles that appear, there is little information about the early church in the United States.

There are occasional articles, and a book, "Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church", that give some information about the early church. Also, there are a couple of academic treatises which give an account of the early church. Although all the early members were alive at the time the book was being written, not a one was interviewed. The authors seemingly going out of their way to belittle the early church and it's members, partially for their lack of education. Yet, these members seen as educationally unprepared, laid the foundation of the church in America and other countries outside of Korea. For whatever reason, the negative view of the early church is too eagerly embraced by later members and in the treatises that are considered the authority on the early church. Others distort the history to benefit their own place in the church history.

This writing is not intended to be a scholarly objective history of the early American church, but to a great extent, my own experiences in those early days along with the chronology of events. I only cover the first five of the first forty plus years of the Unification Church in America, a period that was so much a part of my life, the period up to and including Reverend Moon's arrival in the United States.

During my years in the Unification Church, I have made some observations and drawn some conclusions from my experiences. Sometimes I climb on my soap box, but my hope is that someone can benefit from the mistakes of those who have gone before. However, experience tells me that is not the way things work.

The fast moving events of today’s world and the level that the Reverend Sun Myung Moon is operating, makes our early efforts in America look puny and I often wonder if it is really worth writing about. Maybe instead of being a part of the reality of the day I am just an old man living in the past, trampled by the march of time. Yet, I feel a need to record the early events of the church as best I can remember after over 40 years. What I have written is less about the spiritual significance or a analysis of the early church than it is a record of the simple every day events in our lives, which many later members will be able to relate to.

There are literally thousands of stories that can be written about the early Church. There are stories of those who have sacrificed everything for God's work. There are many interesting and inspiring stories about dedicated members that have been fulfilling God's work throughout world but few will be recorded. My contribution is small, the only value in my own personal story is timing--being in the right place at the right time in history.

Because I am writing about my experiences and observations more than a history encompassing all of the early movement the work of others is only briefly mentioned. It is not my intention to slight the work of other early missionaries in America such as Dr. Bo Hi Pak who went to Washington D.C. at fathers request to be the assistant military attache at the Korean Embassy, and founded a group in Washington D.C. There was David S.C. Kim, who came to the United States the fall of 1959, after Miss Kim arrived in January 1959. He attended a seminary in Portland, Oregon, where he found members and established a group. Later in the 1960s there was a successful group started in San Francisco and Boonville, by Mr. Choi and later carried on by Oni Durst. They all worked for Father and were a part of the early history of the Unification Church in America.

My only desire is to give a better understanding of the early church in America which is all but lost to a new generation of members. For those who did not have an opportunity to know Young Oon Kim personally, I try to convey a little about her character and personality. She was a great influence in my life and the others who were fortunate in knowing her personally. Her unwavering dedication to God, and her mission inspired many. She was born for her mission, prepared by God for it and stayed with it till the end of her days.

If I were to tell Miss Kim about writing this book, I can hear her say, "Why do you write about all those things, they are unimportant". That may be true, but because of the scant understanding of most members about the beginning of the Unification Church outside of Korea, I hope to give a better understanding of the early history. For those who were not able to know Young Oon Kim personally, maybe this will give a little understanding of her, and how the Unification Church was started by a handful of early members.

Galen M. Pumphrey



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