40 Years in America

The Early Mission 1959-1971

The beginning of the Unification Church in America dates from the arrival of its first missionaries in 1959 and extended through the decade of the 1960s to the arrival of Rev. and Mrs. Moon in late 1971. During this period, the Unification Church in America was fortunate to have four missionaries of outstanding quality: Young Oon Kim (1914-89), David S.C. Kim (1914-), Bo Hi Pak (1930-), and Sang Ik Choi (1936-). Each of them made and continued to make lasting contributions to the Unification tradition. However, their most important collective legacy was the love and commitment they expressed to the people of the United States and, by extension, to the people of the Western world. That they "loved the people" was finally more important than their translations or adaptations of The Principle, their organizational initiatives or even the record of their suffering during the earliest stage of the churchís development in the West.

It is said that love covers a variety of faults. In the case of the early Unificationist missionaries, their chief failing was a lack of unity. It cannot be denied that there were disagreements, grievances and squabbles over strategy, as well as the tendency to proceed independently from one another. As a consequence, a unified national movement never emerged during the 1960s. The churchís oral tradition holds that their failure to unify led to a lack of result and an inadequate foundation. However, it might be questioned how much really could have been accomplished during the tumultuous 1960s. In fact, given the size of the United States and the equally vast cultural distance which the earliest missionaries needed to bridge, their results were on a par or even ahead of most missionary endeavors in the history of Godís providence.

The 1960s, then, were a time of sowing, and in this regard the early UC missionaries must be given high marks. Each of them produced Principle texts, established important patterns of community life, and developed creative ways of relating to the wider culture. Taken together, they set the basic directions that the Unification tradition would follow in America during succeeding years. Miss Kimís "Unified Family" laid the legal and spiritual foundations for the Unification Church, having legally incorporated as the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity in 1961 and having set up a national headquarters and centers throughout the country. Mr. David S.C. Kimís "United Faith, Inc." lay the initial foundation for the UCís later ecumenical and inter-religious activity. Col. Bo Hi Pakís leadership of the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation (KCFF), Little Angels, and Radio of Free Asia (ROFA) set the pattern for subsequent public advocacy and cultural initiatives. Finally, Mr. Sang Ik Choi, through his San Francisco Bay Area International Re- Education Foundation and International Ideal City Project, initiated an important communitarian line of development.

At the same time, it is important to remember that activities in the United States were peripheral to the mainstream of the Unification tradition which was centered in Korea and, to a lesser extent, Japan. It would not be until the 1970s that developments in America assumed a central role as a consequence of Rev. Moonís decision to shift the focus of his work to the West. Before then, members were largely dependent on the missionaries for information. However, Rev. Moon undertook two world tours during the 1960s, one in 1965 and another in 1969. These tours, which included lengthy stopovers in the United States, afforded members the opportunity to participate directly in the churchís mainstream tradition. They also were important in shaping and invigorating the American mission.

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