Lifestyle Conversations with Members of the Unification Church - Edited by Richard Quebedeaux
Richard Quebedeaux: This morning we are going to have Mr. Salonen, the President of the Unification Church of America, give a presentation on the history of the church.
Neil Salonen: Good morning. I am happy to join you. I am sorry that I couldn't be with you the entire time. As most of you know, one reason some of us were late is that Thursday was the celebration of Rev. Moon's sixtieth birthday. I guess you have had that explained to you in the last couple of days, but the reason that I bring it up now is because in order to give an adequate history at this point in our movement, a very young movement, we really have to begin with the person of Rev. Moon. I don't think there has ever been a session where we have done this.
I will try to give you significant dates in the development of our movement and our providential understanding of why the movement was expanding like that. From this, I hope to provide a context for you to see current activities in their historical perspective, and therefore have some idea of the way we see the movement in the future.
The first date is 1920, the birth of Rev. Moon, who was born in what is now North Korea. At that time, all Korea was under Japanese occupation, and so he was raised a Christian in an atmosphere where Christianity was persecuted. As such, he had a pretty intense experience.
When he was fifteen or sixteen years old, depending on whether you count the American or the Korean way, on Easter morning, he had the beginning of a series of revelations in which Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that he was chosen for a mission. Over the next nine years that mission was revealed to him, and he pursued an understanding of how God had been working since the time of the fall of man to bring about the restoration of man to His original ideal. He pursued his understanding of the dispensational missions and responsibilities of what we call the historical families, the families centering on Noah, Abraham, and so on.
That period of revelation, primary revelation, took place from 1935 to 1944. During this time, Rev. Moon studied engineering at a university in Japan. He also was active working in a variety of capacities to help his family. At the end of this period, which was also the end of the war, Korea was divided into North and South. Rev. Moon was in the part that was given to the communists. We believe that he continues to receive revelation, but that it is an outplaying of the basic framework that was developed in this period. We often consider that the Divine Principle, in essence, was revealed in this period and that since that time, there has been an elaboration of it or further exposition.
As Rev. Moon studied biblical history, he found that God had been seeking to restore faith, or basically to restore man's relationship with the Word, and that He had been looking for someone who could set up the foundation of faith and substance that we refer to. The first person to successfully do that was Jacob, and therefore, a great deal that happens in our movement is patterned after what we call Jacob's life course. As you know, Jacob spent a period of twenty-one years in Haran after he had stolen back the birthright. Those twenty-one years were broken into three periods of seven, and so we often refer to the twenty-one year course, or the three seven-year periods, as symbolically connecting with the victorious experience of Jacob. On every level, we imagine the successful person is expanding Jacob's course.
Rev. Moon, with that same intention, would have begun a twenty-one-year course at this time if the initial foundation around him could have been set up. It was his desire. It is our belief, that many other groups within the Korean Christian community received revelation to support this mission. It is a very long history. There isn't time to explain it here, but it is our understanding that there were people who could have taken the position of John the Baptist, to testify to Rev. Moon so he could effectively proclaim the Principle during a twenty-one-year course. Had he done that from 1945, it could have been completed as early as 1966.
However that was not what happened. Rather than North and South Korea being reunited through free elections as was the original plan, the country has remained divided. Christianity was heavily suppressed in the North. Pyongyang had been known as the city of churches; it was actually the seat of Korean Christianity. But Christianity was heavily suppressed there and Rev. Moon was imprisoned because of his religious teaching. He was imprisoned in a communist prison camp from 1948 until 1950, a period of almost three years. During this time, he was unable to begin his ministry in any significant way. He could neither proclaim the Divine Principle nor organize a movement centering on it.
With the beginning of the Korean War in 1950 there was an initial period when the United Nations forces landed, went north and then were swept back. In that initial sweep forward, the prison camp at Hung Na m where Rev. Moon was imprisoned, was liberated. The communist captains were trying to dispose of all the prisoners. He was just about to be executed when the actual liberation came and his life was spared. At that point he and a few followers fled to the southern tip of the peninsula, to Pusan, and there began the Unification Church. Perhaps those of you who have seen our literature have seen the first little cardboard-box house that they built in a refugee camp in Pusan. That was really the first church structure that was erected and the first place where Rev. Moon began to teach the Principle.
Thus, during the period from 1950 to 1954, he was seeking to organize some kind of group, some kind of foundation centering on the mission of Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons who represented the twelve different gates to the New Jerusalem. The twelve sons of Jacob expanded to the twelve tribes centering on Moses, and they would have become the foundation of Israel, the Messianic nation. When Jesus came, he was to unite the twelve tribes, send them out to twelve nations and, in that way, expand the foundation of restoration centering on God's word. However, the tribes of Israel didn't accept Jesus, and therefore, he chose his twelve disciples. Those disciples were spiritual sons, spiritually representing the family of Jacob. Jesus was building his own tribal structure in order to compensate for the lack of support in the tribes of Israel, the nation of Israel, at that time. In the same way, Rev. Moon was seeking to establish a following which would represent the tribe. He needed to make a foundation to restore Adam's family, work through Noah's family and accomplish on the level of Jacob.
He officially began the Unification Church in 1954 in Seoul, Korea, and that is considered the mother church around the world. In this period, he was still seeking to set up the foundation to follow Jacob's course and, most centrally, to restore the position of Adam. When Adam fell, and Cain did not unite with his brother Abel but rejected and killed him, not only Adam himself, but Adam's family, was lost. In restoring the position of Adam, it is necessary first to restore the position of sons. For that reason, Jesus had three chief disciples whose mission was to stand in the same position to him as the sons should have stood in relation to Adam. That would have been the foundation for their restoration.
Between 1954 and 1960, Rev. Moon was seeking to accomplish restoration on the level of Adam's family. In 1960, he was prepared to do that with the establishment of his family. Most of you are a little familiar with his background. His marriage in 1960 came on the foundation of three spiritual sons, the three elders of our church who took that position to him. They and their wives made the foundation for Rev. Moon and his wife to conditionally restore Adam's family. With the establishment in the spiritual, conditional sense of this family, which we call the restoration of the holy marriage Blessing, began a twenty-one-year course which runs from 1960 to 1981.
Everything that has happened from that time until now is within this twenty-one-year period. Therefore, it has what we call providential significance. The entire history of the Unification Church in America falls within this period, and it is seen as part of the outplaying of Rev. Moon's twenty-one-year worldwide ministry.
In preparation for this, Rev. Moon sent the first missionary to Japan in 1958. Actually, Korea did not have a treaty of normalization with Japan at that time, so it was necessary for the missionary to smuggle himself into the country. There were many Koreans living in Japan. During the period of occupation, the Japanese had required all Koreans living in Japan to take Japanese names; that was also done with many Koreans in Korea as well during the Japanese occupation. So, many Koreans of the older generation have two names, a Japanese name and a Korean name. The Japanese were actually seeking to eradicate Korean culture. They were teaching Japanese in the schools, forcing the Koreans to take on new names, etc. The missionary to Japan at that time was Mr. Sang Ik Choi; his Japanese name was Mr. Nishikawa. Mr. Nishikawa smuggled himself into the country and began setting up a foundation on the national level.
We believe that while Rev. Moon was setting up his personal foundation, he was also anticipating the time when that would be expanded to the worldwide level which would be that level that Jesus had not quite reached during his ministry. In 1959, he sent the first missionaries to the United States. Dr. Young Oon Kim came on a fellowship to the University of Oregon at Eugene and, although she came to study and to do some work, she came with the purpose of teaching the Principle. She had lived and studied with Rev. Moon from 1954 until 1959. She had written one English version called Divine Principle (she chose the title), which was produced in Korea before she came. Although the quality of printing and even the quality of English was at a minimal level, she brought those things with het. She did a further revision of Divine Principle. She typed it herself and ran off copies on a mimeograph machine. She began teaching those who would listen to her.
Perhaps a word or two about het is significant. She had not been raised in a Christian household, but had a conversion to Christianity as a teenager. She went on to become very active in the Methodist Church and in the worldwide ecumenical work of the Methodist Church, attending conferences all over the world. She went to seminary in Japan, and she was teaching at Ewha University, a Methodist-affiliated university in Seoul, at the time that she first heard the teaching of the Principle. She was then in her thirties. She, along with two other professors and a number of students, studied the Principle and decided to join in 1954-55. The reaction from the Christian community there was so intense that she was confronted with the choice of either leaving the university or disaffiliating from the church. She chose to stay with the church and to disaffiliate from the university and give up her position. That particular incident at Ewha University was the source of a lot of the early criticism and of vicious rumors about the church because it was a very ugly incident. The reaction was so intolerant, really following the lines of classic religious intolerance. There was a real effort on the part of the Methodist hierarchy to discredit the early Unification Church movement in any way possible.
Thomas McGowan: What year was that?
Neil Salonen: It was 1955. That was the year that Rev. Moon was in prison for the second time, actually on the trumped-up charge of draft evasion. He was held for three months, but he was released without trial and declared innocent. Christianity is still a minority religion in South Korea, but the Christians have a great deal of influence with the government because of their superior educational system. It was cooperation between the Christians in the government and the Methodist hierarchy that sought to suppress the Unification Church movement at that time and, if possible, eliminate Rev. Moon -- "eliminate," meaning imprison him. He was released after three months.
In 1959 then, Miss Kim, as we affectionately call Dr. Young Oon Kim, began her missionary work in Oregon. About the same time, Mr. David Sang Chul Kim also came to the Northwest. He is the same Mr. Kim who is attending this conference and who is currently serving as the president of the Unification Theological Seminary.
Not exactly at the same time, but a few years later, Col. Bo Hi Pak, one of the early members of our church in Korea, who was also a member of the army of the Republic of Korea, came to serve at the embassy in Washington as the assistant military attaché. He was serving not in any way in connection with his church activities but simply because the Washington embassy was his assignment. South Korea and America were at that time closer allies than they are at the present time. Col. Pak felt that it would be possible to make a bridge between various nations and groups through cultural activities. He retired from the military, remained in Washington and formed the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation which organized the Little Angels and a dancing troupe called the National Folk Ballet of Korea. They toured around the world under the sponsorship at various times of the United Nations, the Korean government, and others. They have performed throughout the United States. Col. Pak also sought to do evangelical work in the Washington, D.C. area, although often his time was consumed with his other activities.
In 1965 Mr. Sang Ik Choi, who had been the first missionary to Japan, also came to the United States with some of the early members that were converted in Japan. One of those early members is Mrs. Durst, Dr. Durst's wife, who then worked with Mr. Choi in the San Francisco Bay area. She later set up separate activities. So that at one point we had four different independent groups, fraternal but in a sense quite autonomous, like a feudal period before the real national movement was formed. Thus, we had at this time four missionary efforts in the United States, three of them in the Northwest and one in Washington, D.C.
By 1963, Rev. Moon had made several efforts to come to the United States in order to expand the work that was being done in Korea and to connect it to what was happening in America and the rest of the world. We consider it significant that among the first members who joined in the United States in the period between 1959 and 1963 were immigrants to the United States who were still nationals of their European home countries. In 1963 missionaries went to Europe. These included members of the Unification Church who had converted in America and went back to their own countries, pretty much by their own inspiration. We didn't have a major program through which they were officially commissioned and sent. Peter Koch went to Germany and Paul Werner went to Austria. Also one of the first five American members, Doris Walder, went to Italy, even though she didn't speak Italian at that time. From 1963 to 1964 the work was expanding, and finally in 1965, Rev. Moon made his first tour, his first trip outside Korea to the rest of the world.
In 1960, he had set up the foundation to conditionally restore Adam's family, and so in 1960, in addition to his own wedding there was the wedding of three significant couples and they were included in the thirty-six couples. These thirty-six couples represented three sets of twelve couples representing Adam's age, Noah's age and Jacob's age. Strictly speaking, we were trying to restore the innocence of the world before the fall of man. So, twelve of these couples were people who had never had any marital or sexual experience; they were absolutely pure. We refer to them as virgins and bachelors. The second twelve represented the fallen condition of the world, people who had a sexual relationship or a previous marriage, but who were not married at that time. The final twelve represented the moral foundation of the world in the sense of those who were married and who entered the church as a married couple. They had their marriage Blessed by the church. Thus, all possible categories of people were included. So really, the significance of the thirty-six families is twelve, representing the twelve disciples of Jesus, but expanded to thirty-six because of the moral state of the world.
This Blessing took place in 1960. In 1961, there was a Blessing of seventy-two couples. Then in 1963 there was a Blessing of one hundred and twenty-four couples. The significance of these expanded foundations would take a long time to explain, but generally speaking, this thirty-six family group is considered the personal foundation for the mission of Rev. Moon. Among other things, they were all supposed to be prepared to continue his mission in the event he himself died or could not continue his activities. Thus, they are also considered his personal representatives. Mt. Kim and his family ate here; they are included in the thirty-six families. Later today, Col. Pak will arrive; he is also a member of the thirty-six families. The seventy-two families surrounding the thirty-six families roughly correspond to the seventy elders referred to in the Bible. The one hundred and twenty-four families represent the number one hundred and twenty, the expansion of the twelve different gates to enter Jerusalem, really going out into the world. It was Rev. Moon's desire then to expand the foundation of Blessed couples and to restore the Blessing conditionally to the other nations around the world. But, before God created man, He created the environment where man could live, and, therefore, in order symbolically to recreate the environment, the significant work of the first tour was the blessing of holy grounds, one hundred and twenty holy grounds around the world. This is ground which is symbolically dedicated back to God, ground which is conditionally separated from its relationship with the fallen world and is thought of like a seed. Our members attend the holy ground, pray there and seek to become the purified individuals who are entitled to live in a world that is free of sin.
George Exoo: Where are those places in the United States?
Neil Salonen: There is one in every state and since that time, it is also out teaching that members of the Unification Church can expand the holy ground, so if the nearest one is far away from where they are, they can establish a holy ground near them. For example, are you from the San Francisco Bay area?
George Exoo: No. I'm from South Carolina, but I'm very curious where mine is. (laughter)
Neil Salonen: We'll send you a map. We could give a very long talk just on the meaning of the restoration of the holy grounds and even the procedure that was followed, but the significance is that ground was dedicated to God. It is symbolic; it is a condition in advance of the dedication of all the land back to God.
Thomas McGowan: Do you own the real estate?
Neil Salonen: No. In most cases it is public ground. In some cases, very unusual things have happened to the ground, (laughter) Every now and then, you may hear a story of Unification Church members trying to get to a certain ground. It is kind of interesting. There is one spot of ground on the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C. which is a holy ground. We ourselves wonder how Rev. Moon was ever able to get there to bless the holy ground because it is an off limits area. We are constantly held back from praying there, especially as we are sensitive about public demonstrations. We don't do anything there except pray. We simply go individually or as a group. There is no symbolic ritual of anything like that. We simply consider it a significant place to pray, and to remember the condition that was set. This happened in 1965. Rev. Moon visited for a short period of time in the United States. He visited every state, blessed holy grounds, went on to Europe and continued around the world. That was when one hundred and twenty holy grounds were made.
At this time, he asked Dr. Young Oon Kim to go to England and take responsibility for the mission there. She went to England and began the missionary work. Col. Pak was in Washington and he was given additional responsibility for the work there.
I think I left out one point which is that in 1961, Miss Kim moved her original group of five members from the Northwest down to San Francisco where she incorporated the church in the United States. So the Unification Church of America actually began in the San Francisco Bay area in 1961 under Dr. Young Oon Kim.
In 1966, Miss Kim came back from England and joined together with Col. Pak in Washington, D.C. The National Headquarters of the Unification Church was established in Washington, D.C. at that time. That was the first time that we could be said to have a national movement in any real sense. Up until that time, each group was extremely autonomous with no central direction or good communication.
I, myself, joined in 1967, so the rest of the history I know intimately from my own experience. We were expecting Rev. Moon to come back again and to establish the first Blessed couples in the United States. However, he didn't do that until 1969.
In 1969, Rev. Moon made his second world tour, and at that point the primary reason for the world tour was to extend the marriage Blessing to the faithful members of the Unification Church in the other countries throughout the world. In preparation for this, in 1968, he had the Blessing of 430 couples in Korea. The 430 couples represented the national foundation. They symbolized 4300 years of Korean history and also the 430 years of bondage in Egypt by the Israelites. So this symbolized the blessing of the nationhood into the promised land. We consider that we began the journey through the desert from 1968. Significantly, this was at the end of the first seven-year course that Rev. Moon began in 1960. The end of his first seven-year course was in 1967. With the beginning of 1968, he began the second seven-year course which continued until 1974. During the first seven years, he proclaimed several holidays, and at the end of that time, he proclaimed God's Day on January 1, 1968. We consider God's Day, January 1st, the most sacred day of the year. It is dedicated to God, and it is celebrated on the foundation of the completion of the first seven years of Rev. Moon's twenty-one-year course.
In 1968, he blessed 430 couples in Korea and then he traveled throughout the test of the world in 1969. He Blessed thirteen couples in the United States. This was amazing to us because he did not appear to be specifically selecting thirteen couples, but it also symbolized the thirteen colonies that began the American nation. In Europe he Blessed eight couples. In Japan he Blessed twenty-two couples, making a total of forty-three couples. Forty-three on the worldwide level is tied symbolically to the 430 on the national level in Korea. At the end of his tour, he returned to Korea and continued the work of the national foundation from 1968 to 1974- It was his interpretation that from 1975 he would come out to the world and seek to establish a worldwide movement. That was his plan when I met him in 1969.
In 1970, he called members from ten different nations who were prepared to be married for the Blessing of 777 couples. He had gone out to the world to give the Blessing to the forty-three couples, symbolically scattering seeds. Seven hundred and seventy-seven couples then represented the harvest coming back to Korea. This Blessing was performed in Korea and the three sevens symbolize the three seven year periods of Jacob or the twenty-one-year course, representing a worldwide foundation. Of the 777 couples, the vast majority were Korean and a very substantial second group were Japanese. The rest were more symbolically included because the movement had not expanded that much. At that time there were seven couples from the United States. The Spurgins were included, and my wife and I. I don't know of anyone else who is here. The Jones were included, and the Edwards.
Thus, from 1970, Rev. Moon was preparing to take his ministry to the worldwide level. In preparation for that he visited the United States again at the end of 1971 and stayed for several months until 1972. When he arrived at the end of 1971, and again at the beginning of 1972, he officially began a three-year period of preparation for his worldwide ministry centering on the United States. Then he came again at the end of 1972 and has remained here fairly consistently since that time. Rev. Moon's ministry and the providence centering on the United States began in 1975.
In 1972, on the celebration of God's Day, Rev. Moon called the first national conference of all members and all leaders of the Unification Church. At that time, he unveiled a plan for pioneering or sending missionaries to every state in the United States which had not been done before that time. Secondly, he selected seventy pioneers who travelled with him and went on a seven-city speaking tout. He hardly spoke English at all at that time, but using two different translators, he traveled to seven cities beginning in New York and sought to proclaim the message of the Principle to the public. At this time, the Religion Editor of the New York Times did an interview with Rev. Moon, but didn't publish it because she said he wasn't really newsworthy. Since that time, she has sought several times to have interviews but he now thinks she is no longer interesting, (laughter) At that time he was very, very available and spent time talking to anybody who cared to talk with him. One reason he has made himself a lot less available is not only that he is very busy, but that it didn't pay off enough -- also, he has fulfilled his responsibility in this area, and now it is our responsibility to do the talking.
The seven-city tour was quite exciting. We really didn't see how we could do it. We believed at that time that, since he was either a great messianic of pre-messianic figure, the whole spirit world of something would open and a lot of people would come and fill up the halls. Actually that didn't happen. The first couple of talks that he gave were rather poorly attended, and we began to realize that we would have to become capable of moving people, actually persuading them and inspiring them to want to come to listen to his message. This was in 1972. In 1973, he began the twenty-one-city tour starting in New York at Carnegie Hall. The seven-city tour had begun in New York at the Lincoln Center.
Also in 1973, in order to break down cultural barriers, a number of members came from Japan to work together with members from the United States. It was a time of a lot of confusion -- language barriers, misunderstandings, the meshing of different value systems -- but it was a very exciting time because we all had the same goal, and we literally had to work together because we were working together to fill up the halls for Rev. Moon's tour. Everybody was very faithful to Rev. Moon, everybody wanted the tour to be successful, but we all had very different ideas about the way in which this should be done. In Japan, when you really want to proclaim something, you stand on the street corner with a loudspeaker and really proclaim it. In the United States you can do that but that is not necessarily the way that you persuade people to come. So there are a lot of things that you may have seen our group do that represent a little squirt of Japanese culture, a little squirt of some other culture, all coming together to find an effective way. And we came to appreciate each other a lot. I don't want to make light of it, it was difficult. But it was also wonderful. In my own life this was one of the most difficult periods for me because I had to work together and establish a bond of trust with people. Rev. Moon has said that it is important that representatives of Korea, Japan and the United States become one, one in heart and one in purpose. To do that was not easy; we had to overcome barriers to unity. Our group is dedicated to unification and unity, but we never assumed that comes about by goodwill alone. We realize that it is something that we have to build. So even though we may have some harmony, we expect to feel strong passions of division and to have to deal with them. That is exactly what happens.
The twenty-one-city tour in 1973 was substantially more successful, and it was in this period that a tremendous amount of publicity started to be generated centering on our movement and Rev. Moon. It was also in this period that the movement really began to grow. Until 1972 we had perhaps four hundred members in the United States. By 1973 that number was expanding rapidly. Rev. Moon not only spoke publicly but was hosted at banquets throughout the United States. We received hundreds of proclamations for Rev. Moon Day or Unification Church Day. When we explained ourselves to people face to face, not being reinterpreted by those who might not be in sympathy with our beliefs or not able to understand what we were doing, we got a very good response. What happened as the movement began to grow was that the churches and other organizations began to feel threatened by the rapid growth of the Unification Church. Thus, the period of public criticism of the Unification Church really began.
In 1974 Rev. Moon decided to go to every state that he hadn't yet visited. So we began what we call the thirty-two-city tour which went to the states that he hadn't spoken in on the twenty-one-city tour. Together with a tour later that fall of eight major cities, the work in 1974 included a forty-city tour. These eight major speeches represented the level on which he really intended to speak. Everything before that time was for the purpose of actually training us in public evangelistic work. The eight-city tour began with Madison Square Garden, and we usually consider that the first successful public event. It was on September 18, 1974- Interestingly enough, the Unification Church in America had been founded on September 18, 1961. The date September 18 becomes increasingly significant in our movement. The tour began at Madison Square Garden and expanded. It was extremely successful, and we felt that we ended the second seven-year course from 1968 to 1974 in a very victorious way. We then began Rev. Moon's third and final seven-year course in 1975. This was the end of the Day of Hope tours and represented the fulfillment of national level evangelism.
David Simpson: What does highly successful mean?
Neil Salonen: The places were jam-packed. Literally everywhere the places were jam-packed. At Madison Square Garden one of the doors broke because there was such a crush outside of people trying to get in. Everywhere we went the places were jam-packed. Sometimes there were demonstrators outside who got pushed aside by people trying to get in. It was highly successful by any standard. That is what I mean.
More than that, though, people listened. I had the privilege of being the emcee and introducing Rev. Moon on all those occasions. It was exciting. People listened. He spoke strongly and clearly, and, even though it was through a translator, the people responded. It is not something that could have been packed by our members, because we didn't have that many members. These were people who didn't belong to the Unification Church and had never studied Divine Principle, who were responding to the actual message of Rev. Moon, not responding to the image or things that they had heard second or third hand, but responding to what he was actually saying when he spoke for himself.
In 1975, it was his long-stated intention to begin the worldwide ministry centering on the United States. Therefore, he did two things. First he took many of those members who had participated in the Day of Hope touts and formed an International One World Crusade team which conducted activities in Korea and Japan. This year was also the first year that Rev. Moon spoke publicly in his home country of Korea. He spoke in eight cities. Again, there was just phenomenal response. To us this symbolically restored the rejection that Jesus met speaking publicly to his own people.
In 1975 three events took place: one was the IOWC tour and the Day of Hope in Korea, the second was the Blessing of 1800 couples in Korea, and the third was the Yoido rally against communism which was attended by 1.2 million people in Korea. It was the largest tally of its kind that had ever been held and was an opportunity for Rev. Moon to demonstrate his commitment to expose the meaning of the atheistic base of communism and to lead a worldwide religious revitalization in order to confront the challenge of communism.
At the same time, he also sent missionaries to a total of one hundred and twenty countries. Up until that time we had been active in approximately forty countries. But following the Blessing in February, missionaries were trained and three went to every country to which they could possibly be admitted either as missionaries or as individuals in any capacity. One missionary went from the United States, one from Japan, and one from Germany to each country. Those three worked together. No leader was appointed; it was their challenge to somehow find a way to unite and work together. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't, but it was their challenge as representatives of those three nations to work together. The missions have been supported by those three nations since that time.
This year, 1980, for the first time, all those missionaries gathered back in New York. Virtually all of them came to the celebration of Rev. Moon's birthday and for a conference to evaluate the success of the last five years' work.
The first worldwide evangelical effort in 1975, which was America's responsibility, was the beginning of the third seven-year course. After the Yoido Rally, Rev. Moon returned to the United States and in 1976 sought to fulfill his responsibility to proclaim America's responsibility to lead the world in challenging communism and revitalizing its Christian fiber. To do that, we had two God Bless America rallies, one was on June 1st in Yankee Stadium and the second on September 18th at the Washington Monument grounds. Over 300,000 people gathered at the Washington Monument. We consider that rally to be the conclusion of Rev. Moon's public ministry. It was his responsibility to proclaim his message personally to the people of America. Thus beginning in Lincoln Center in 1972 until 1976, he sought to speak personally, even though through a translator, even through periods of criticism, to the people of America. He concluded this responsibility at the Washington Monument rally. Since that time, many people have even thought that Rev. Moon was no longer in the country. We had a prayer meeting in Greenwich Village the other day and one of the news reporters asked me if he would be coming back to the United States, very unaware that he was currently in the United States. Since 1976, the church in America has addressed itself to two things, deepening its roots in the community and attending to the support of the world missions. Those are really the only two things. Of course, that involves a lot, but we no longer have any conditional or providential responsibility like this to fulfill.
Thomas McGowan: Excuse me, Neil, would you consider the Yankee Stadium tally successful?
Neil Salonen: No. I have been to baseball games where they have about a third of the turnout that we had. But for us, the standard of success was overflowing with a turn-away crowd outside.
Thomas McGowan: I was at that one and many people there were neighborhood ruffians.
Neil Salonen: I didn't consider it successful, although my parents went, a lot of my family members went, and they had a wonderful experience. But what we were trying to accomplish was not accomplished. Yankee Stadium represented the second stage, or growth stage. Madison Square Garden was the first significant rally, Yankee Stadium was the second and Washington Monument was the third. The second in the course of three always represents going past the period of crucifixion. So when we have three things to do, we believe that the second thing may be difficult, and it often is. We always believe the third thing will be successful, and so far it always has been. This is not predestination -- there is just a tendency.
Since 1977, the church has grown and expanded. I think you have heard a lot about the activities. I have pictures of some of them. After 1981, when Rev. Moon concludes his twenty-one-year course, we believe that each of us personally will begin a twenty-one-year course, and, as such, out movement will grow in even more diverse directions because then it will become the responsibility of the individual members to decide how their lives should be an offering to God and how they can make a twenty-one-year offering centering on faithfulness and on willingness to sacrifice to accomplish substantial achievements. Jacob didn't just go and endure twenty-one years in Haran. He earned his wife, he earned a great deal of goods and he used those things as an offering when he went back to the promised land in order to be accepted. We believe that we must prepare an offering. We teach that everyone must have an offering. So I expect a great deal of diversity in the movement following 1981, not instantaneously, but beginning from that point. I think that those of you who have followed the movement for several years have already begun to see that. We have great tasks in front of us. Some of them are going on in the other conference that is here in the Bahamas where we have a lot to do in terms of hammering out what the movement actually teaches, what it actually stands for. Rev. Moon himself has indicated that following the conclusion of his twenty-one-year course he will devote himself personally to clarification of a lot of points in Divine Principle. We treat this year and next year as marking a very sharp turning point in the church, a turning point many members have been expecting since they joined. We don't believe that suddenly things will change, but we think that a lot more responsibility will be put on the shoulders of the individual members. I expect a rush of vitality. A lot of creative talents haven't been used yet.
Mary Carman Rose: I am deeply concerned about the assessment of the success of a Unification rally in terms of the numbers of people who attend. The fact that thousands have attended such a rally in no sense guarantees that they derived genuine spiritual benefit from attending. Certainly you'll agree, Neil, that the success of a rally is to be judged primarily in terms of its effects on the individual's commitment to doing the works of love.
Neil Salonen: Yes, indeed Rev. Moon used to say, "If I talk and talk and wave my aims around and the room is full of people then you think it is OK. But if there's only one person sitting there, you would think I am a crazy person. But in reality, what difference does it make?" Also Rev. Moon is like the preacher who says, "I don't preach to the people who do not come to hear me, I preach to those who do."
Andy Smith: In our session on spirituality the other day, Pat explained to us a little about the importance in the movement of the pledge and the pledge service. I wonder if you could maybe recite the pledge for us, and give us a little of the history of the place of the pledge within the movement.
Neil Salonen: Since I don't know what Pat said, you have the advantage of cross-referencing her answer. The pledge is the spiritual responsibility of the Blessed families and it represents their joining together with Rev. Moon in sharing his mission. So they rise every Sunday morning at 5:00 and recite the pledge. That symbolizes their being willing to rise and to go in advance to the world, to sacrifice in sleep, to sacrifice in time. I can give you a copy if you'd like that, but basically it's a pledge of those who have become spiritually united with Rev. Moon in mission. Now the members of the church optionally join to say that. Some may not realize that it is optional. Supposedly some do, because they don't all come. But the fact is that the saying of the pledge is fundamentally centered around the Blessed couples. It really represents the same pledge that Rev. Moon makes to heaven. They are joining him in making that pledge to God.
Andy Smith: When did that start?
Neil Salonen: In this country it started after Rev. Moon's second world tour in 1969. It couldn't have started before because we didn't have Blessed couples before that time. I'm not quite sure, but I think it started in Korea in the middle sixties.
William Shive: What's the present organizational structure in America?
Neil Salonen: Well, we have one big family in America, including the Oakland family. Someone catches the mission and does it according to his or her own creative capability. When I visit the Durst's out in California, it's the same family, the same brothers and sisters. We have a great diversity of members, but we have one organization. We're not as tightly organized as we may appear to be from the outside. Since most of you ate not really "outside," I am sure you are beginning to understand that. Rev. Moon has the attitude that if people are sincerely trying to fulfill their responsibility, they need room to do that.
William Shive: I guess accountability is what I'm trying to figure out. What is the line of accountability from any one particular section of the group to the whole?
Neil Salonen: Can you give me an example, say, of an issue? Or would you like me to pick an example?
Thomas McGowan: How about training techniques?
Neil Salonen: In 1975, Rev. Moon set up a training program in Barrytown. He gave a Japanese leader, Mr. Sudo, responsibility for it. The whole movement sent members there, including the family in Northern California and the family in New York. The family in Northern California and the family in New York, for different reasons, both felt, I'm sure, that if they had been running that training program, it wouldn't have been done exactly the same way. But they honored the person who was given the responsibility. So Mr. Sudo trained members in a certain way. There were leaders in New York, there were leaders in California, and leaders of small groups elsewhere that all felt that if they were doing it, they might do it a little differently. But I think they all appreciated the benefits of the way it was done. So we can't all run everything.
William Shive: Well, as president of the church, how are you related to all the parts around the country? Maybe that's the only way to approach the answer.
Neil Salonen: I try to harmonize them.
William Shive: You're not an authority? They don't have to report to you, or be accountable to you?
Neil Salonen: They do report, and legally we do hold the authority. But when Rev. Moon is here, then I feel like I'm operating more as a mediator, or maybe as a channel of communication, between him and the members. So Rev. Moon gives broad direction, kind of philosophical direction. But how we're actually going to do something practically becomes the responsibility of the state organizations for which I'm responsible.
Don Jones: For instance, do you read Jaime's financial report, which she doesn't particularly like to fill out?
Neil Salonen: I don't myself, but my staff does, and Rev. Moon doesn't, for example.
Renee Bakke: You said that those persons who were recently matched will have to wait for the Blessing ceremony until Rev. Moon decides it is the right time for the Blessing. And according to you, this waiting period is based on a revelation concerning the numerical structure of the course of the Unification Church in America and in the world. I don't call that revelation; I call it manipulation.
Neil Salonen: Are you asking a question?
Renee Bakke: No, I'm giving you what I have to say on the subject.
Neil Salonen: You don't approve of our marriage customs. Is that what you ate saying?
Renee Bakke: You can have your marriage customs. I don't believe your basis for planning the time for the Blessing is a revelation. I believe it is a maneuver to bring about a situation in which there will appear to be a numerical structure. Did you get that?
Neil Salonen: Well, I heard it.
Renee Bakke: All tight. And I want to comment on something else you said. You also said that Jesus Christ was rejected by his people. Now he was not rejected by all of his people and neither was Rev. Moon. You said that Rev. Moon was late received by his people, but Rev. Moon was not received by all of them, because I know personally the minister of the biggest Christian church in the world which is in Korea. Now I think you'll have to make better statements.
Neil Salonen: I didn't mean to say, and I don't think I did say, that Jesus was completely rejected by his people. He was rejected by the bulk of his people. He was rejected by the leaders of his people. He had to set up his own spiritual foundation. So really, the twelve disciples represented the twelve sons of Jacob, and they were to become like the twelve tribes.
I know very well that Rev. Moon hasn't been completely accepted by his people, in any sense. In fact, the reason that his original twenty-one-year course didn't start in 1945 is largely because of the intolerance of the Christian community in Korea toward any new revelation or message. I would compare that to the leaders of the temple at the time of Jesus. I couldn't think of a more exact parallel. But in 1975, if you count the sum of all the events, over two million people came to hear Rev. Moon speak. And to us that's extremely significant because it represents a level of acceptance of Rev. Moon by his people. That's all I meant to say.
Paid Sharkey: I think that a part of what Mrs. Bakke is reacting to is the way you use what in philosophy we sometimes call "descriptive language." For example, you talk about the timetable of restoration. You need, however, to make it clear in what sense this is a revelation and in what sense by cooperating with that timetable you help to bring about the actualization of the timetable.
Also, is it wise to talk about the "failure" of Jesus' mission? Yes, Jesus was crucified and was widely rejected. But he had and has had since he lived numerous followers. I think, too, that just as a matter of public relations, you need to reflect on how talk of Jesus' failure is going to affect Christians. I don't think you will be successful in the movement, in the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, if Christians continue to hear this message that Jesus was not successful.
Neil Salonen: We believe that Jesus' mission was not fully completed and that it has to be completed. We also believe Rev. Moon is either preparing for the completion of his mission or is in the act of doing it himself. That is what we see his position as being. And I know that is not acceptable to those who do not share our faith. But that is the way to understand us.
Paul Sharkey: That is the point. It's a matter of faith. It's not a matter of accepting a conclusion based on evidence. So, when you answer Mrs. Bakke with empirical data concerning how many people accepted or rejected Jesus and how many accept or reject Rev. Moon, that approach is irrelevant. It's ultimately a matter of faith.
Richard Quebedeaux: I don't know how many of you are aware of Bill Bright's "I found it!" campaign that blitzed this country. Bill Bright never has stopped thinking that it was one hundred percent successful, that there were so many converts and so many people who joined the churches as a result. On the other hand, empirical studies have not found that to be the case. But it is the faith of certain people that concluded that it was successful. Maybe you know about Robert Schuller who works on the principle of possibility thinking -- i.e., that in fact if you visualize it, if you think and believe in it, it is happening already. And I see this in the Unification Church.
Diana Muxworthy: I'd appreciate it if you could talk a little about the symbolic and theological position of Mrs. Moon and then her personal life -- her past and present and what you perceive as her future.
Neil Salonen: Actually, Rev. Moon first married in the mid-1940s, and it would have been his desire that this woman help him achieve God's work of restoration. His first wife could have done it if she could have accepted his life of dedication to the church and his doing the work of the church. And this answers, in part at least, the charge of male chauvinism which some people make against us. The point is that Rev. Moon could not fulfill his mission without his wife's consent and help. And in general, in no sense can one partner decide the commitment of the other. Both of them must make the commitment for the work entrusted to either of them to be fulfilled.
In 1960, Rev. Moon married Hak Ja Han, who was at that time eighteen years old and didn't know the Principle. She was the daughter of a member. Therefore, over the next seven years he educated her. So the first of his three-fold seven-year courses was centered upon solidifying his family. In that time, she became able to take responsibility for her position in that family. We teach that this twenty-one-year course of his is also her twenty-one-year course. In the beginning there was something like a father-daughter relationship between them. But now there is equality. It's very much their position as a couple through which God works.
Richard Quebedeaux: OK thank you very much, Neil. We have to break. Of course, many of you have other questions. Neil, you'll be here through tomorrow?
Neil Salonen: Yes.
Richard Quebedeaux: So you can talk to him privately, and also to Mrs. Salonen if you would like to talk about women's issues or other things.