The Words of the Walsh Family

1987 World Professors Lecture Tour in Korea and Japan

Thomas Walsh
August 24, 1987
Executive director of ACUMI

The "Pilgrimage of Life" -- a walking meditation progressing through the stages of birth, youth, marriage, death, and life after death.

From August 11-24, a group of 30 Western scholars joined a group of 60 Korean and Japanese scholars as part of the 1987 Professors Lecture Tour in Korea and Japan. The tour's sponsors included PWPA of Korea, PWPA of Japan, the International Christian Professors Association (ICPA), the Citizens' Federation for the Unification of the Fatherland (CFUF), and the Advisory Council to the Unification Movement International (ACUMI). Each of the 150 professors involved wrote and presented a paper on one of the following topics: "Rev. Moon's Vision and its Significance for Modern Society',' "Rev. Moon's Vision and its Significance for South-North [Korean] Unification;' and "Rev. Moon's Vision and its Significance for World Peace In effect, all the participants had the opportunity to share their personal understanding of the meaning and relevance of Father's work at public gatherings throughout Korea and Japan.

The group initially gathered in Seoul on August 10; the next day, 30 groups of three professors each -- one Korean, one Japanese, and one Western -- left for speaking engagements that had been set up for them in 120 different cities and villages. For three days, August 12-14, they addressed audiences that included a wide cross-section of the population: citizens, scholars, business executives, and politicians.

After the three-day lecture tour, everyone gathered in Kyongju, the old capital during the Shilla dynasty and a city rich in ancient Korean history and spirituality. After a time of reflection and sightseeing, the group took a trip to Pusan to visit the site where Father built his first church. Participants also climbed to Father's prayer rock, the "Rock of Tears;' in the hills above the first church, overlooking Pusan City and the harbor.

The Korean portion of the tour ended with a farewell banquet for the professors in Seoul on August 17; also attending the banquet were Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, chairman of ICF and IRF; Rev. Young Whi Kim, president of the Unification Church in Korea; and Dr. Dae Oh Son, executive director of CFUF. Several of the professors gave testimonies about their experiences in Korea.

On August 18 the group traveled to Tokyo, Japan, to begin the final portion of the lecture tour. After an initial orientation on August 19, everyone again dispersed in groups of three to all prefectures in Japan, where presentations were given over another three-day period. Speakers were on the road for the entire three days, not only lecturing but also meeting the people, visiting the churches, and enjoying the beautiful countryside of Japan. A closing banquet was held on August 23 in Tokyo. The participants departed the next day with many going on to attend the Third Congress of the Professors World Peace Academy, held in Manila, the Philippines.

The 1987 World Professors Lecture Tour offered scholars from around the world an opportunity to experience the generous hospitality of the Unification movement in Korea and Japan as well as to gain exposure to the rich heritage and current vitality of these Asian countries. The scholars from the West, who have been involved in our many activities in North America and Europe, had a chance to share their experiences and impressions of Father and our movement with the Korean and Japanese people. In effect, a stimulating give and take between cultures occurred that was both unifying and enriching.

In the early stages of his ministry, Father often spoke to members about a future time when scholars would come to Korea to study and speak about the work of a worldwide Unification movement. After years of sacrifice on the part of our members to support the many projects that involve scholars -- ICUS, PWPA, IRF, etc. -- we are now experiencing the remarkable fruits of this labor. When all the scholars gathered in Pusan at the site of our first church and the "Rock of Tears," many had a profound realization of the humble, tearful, and sacrificial beginnings of a movement that now operates most impressively on a global level in numerous spheres of activity. What began on a lonely, materially-impoverished hillside has, in a very brief span of time, emerged as a major force in the modern world. That scholars are not only attending and participating in the various organizations of our movement but are speaking out responsibly and directly throughout the world about Father's work is a moving testimony to the providential progress we have made.

A similar tour is being planned for next summer. And in the future, according to Rev. Kwak, scholars will be invited to speak not only in Korea and Japan, but in all parts of the world. Such activity stands as the fulfillment of Father's long-standing vision.

The final station in the "Pilgrimage of Life," marking the passage of the spirit to the afterlife.

Meditation Sessions

A third major component of the conference schedule was meditation and prayer sessions held each morning by the various traditions. Through these worship services, everyone had the opportunity to explore the religious expression of other faiths, as well as share aspects of his or her own. CWR Executive Director Dr. Frank Kaufmann and the conference co-conveners, Dr. H. Francis Clark and Dr. M. Darrol Bryant, designed this portion of the conference to confront the deeper divisions of heart that lie between religious communities by creating the opportunity for shared religious experience. It was hoped that those present could experience God in new ways, leading to increased understanding and respect among religious traditions.

A special feature of this conference was the attempt to create an interfaith ritual called the "Pilgrimage of Life' The participants walked along the shores of beautiful Harrison Lake, stopping at selected points to offer readings from their respective scriptures relating to the universal human experiences of birth, childhood, adulthood, death, and the life beyond death. The atmosphere was one of warmth, and at times, humor. Rabbi Joseph Gelberman told a joke' about dreaming he died and went to heaven. The angel at the gates asked him what his religion was. The rabbi said he was a Jew but asked why that was important. The angel explained that heaven was just like earth -- all the religions kept their separate ways of worship and life; and he pointed out to him all the different temples, mosques, synagogues, and churches there. The rabbi said if heaven was like that, he didn't want to be there. "So," Rabbi Gelberman concluded to the applause and laughter of those present, "I've decided to live forever."

Dialogue is Essential

The Harrison conference was a unique event in the world interfaith movement and a milestone in the quest for inter-religious cooperation. One participant described the inter-religious work of the CWR as "the major contribution to interfaith understanding in the 20th century."

The scholars and religious leaders who gathered at the Harrison conference recognized that in a world wracked by religious division and warfare, interfaith dialogue is not just desirable, it is essential. As Rev. Kwak said in his plenary address:

No religion stands alone before God; all stand together before their common divine Source. God's ideal is religious harmony and cooperation, so that religions can lead the way as the internal leaders of an emerging world civilization.

Hopefully, the work of the CWR will lead to cooperation and coordination between the major religious bodies for the cause of world peace. This conference was an important foundational step in spreading the Unification movement's vision of world peace through religious dialogue and harmony. 

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