The Words of the Burton Family
More than 1,500 dignitaries, members of clergy, visitors from overseas, and representatives from all fifty U.S. states gathered on October 1, 2009, at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, for the Celebration Banquet honoring the publication of the autobiography of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
Reverend Moon’s autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, has been Number Two on the best-seller list in Korea and has now debuted in English. The celebration of the original Korean edition took place on June 1, 2009, at the COEX Convention Center in Seoul, Korea, with over 3,000 attendees.
The Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Thomas McDevitt, president and publisher of The Washington Times, told the guests that the year 2009 has been an eventful one for Reverend Moon including not just the publication of his autobiography but also his 90th birthday as well as the 50-year anniversary of his wedding to Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. With an opening prayer “in honor of all names of religion” offered by Archbishop Stallings, founder of the Imani Temple in Washington, D.C, the dinner program began.
Rev. In Jin Moon, president of the Unification Church of America and second daughter to Rev. Sun Myung Moon, gave welcoming remarks explaining the inspiration of the autobiography. The book project began when Eun Ju Park, a devout Buddhist who is also the president of the major Korean publishing company Gimm-Young Publishers, received a revelation in prayer in which Buddha urged her to publish a book about Reverend Moon. The resulting work was launched in March 2009 in Seoul and became an instant best-seller.
Rev. In Jin Moon commented, “This book is fantastic in that it unfolds as a collection of vignettes. It tells tales about this extraordinary little boy who becomes anointed by Jesus Christ at the tender age of sixteen and how he never wavers in his commitment and conviction to truly bring peace to the world.” Also sharing personal observations, Reverend Moon reflected, “When I think about my father, I think of the word compassion. He has encouraged us to understand this word, and has encouraged me personally to stand up for religious freedom when I was only 17 years old.”
During dinner, entertainment was given by a twenty-piece band from Lovin’ Life Ministries, including songs such as, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” and “You Raise Me Up.”
Letters of congratulation to Reverend Moon were then read, including a letter from former U.S. president, George H. W. Bush, whose handwritten message was read by his son in attendance, Mr. Neil Bush. In adding his own words of congratulations, Mr. Bush expressed his appreciation that Reverend Moon has been traveling the globe, promoting a very simple concept: We are all children of God. He also applauded Reverend Moon for “being a loving parent to so many in this world.”
Congratulatory remarks were offered to the Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, the guests of honor, by distinguished representatives in the fields of religion, politics, and the media.
Mr. Milton Nathaniel Barnes, the Ambassador of Liberia to the United States, shared his honor for Reverend Moon, who has “continued to lead his fellow man towards the light.” He also expressed to Reverend Moon, “Your service to humanity is one we should all emulate.” Pastor Steven Thurston from Chicago also shared that he “commends Reverend Moon for the 90 more years that we hope for him to have.”
Celebration attendees also heard remarks from Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, the District’s first representative in Congress and the pastor for over fifty years of the locally renowned New Bethel Baptist Church, who had first met Reverend Moon in 1971. “I’m so pleased that we have this biography of someone that is determined to lead. He has gone across the world, saying ‘Mr. Say is nothing; Mr. Do is the man.’” After labeling Reverend Moon’s idea of a Unification Church as a catalyst for change, bringing together spiritual leaders, Reverend Fauntroy concluded, “I thank God for the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, that instructive example of what this world needs now: peace, brotherhood, love, and strength.”
A video presentation was then shown, with passages from Reverend Moon’s autobiography displayed along with photos of his life. The video ended by sharing Reverend Moon’s hope from his book that everyone can be reborn as a peace-loving global citizen.
The Reverend Dr. Hyung Jin Moon, president of the World Unification Church, gave a loving introduction of his father, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, welcoming him to the stage for his keynote speech as the audience stood and cheered.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon then read his speech prepared for the occasion, “Establishing the World of Peace Centered on the True Parents.” In opening, he said, “Thank you for helping us celebrate the publication in the United States of my autobiography….In this book, I offer an account of my life so far, a life devoted to serve and honor God and to bring about His ideal world of peace upon the earth.”
After speaking, Reverend Moon was joined on stage by his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, and received flowers. Seven books comprising representative collections of Father Moon’s words were presented to seven religious and civic leaders.
Reverend Moon asked the audience to join him in singing “God Bless America,” with everyone holding hands. Mr. McDevitt soon clarified for the audience that this was truly a family affair in that his wife and daughter, Rev. In Jin Moon were then asked to sing; this encouraged the audience to sing “Amazing Grace” and “Glory, Glory, Halleluiah” together as the conclusion for the night’s celebration event.
Written by Celine Tardy and Douglas Burton