40 Years in America

The Unified Family

Of the missionary groupings that were established in America during the 1960s, the Unified Family, led by Young Oon Kim, flowed most naturally into the Unification Church of the 1970s. This was due, in part, to its incorporation as the "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity" on September 18, 1961, approved in 1963, which became and still is the legal basis for the Unification Church in America. Beyond that, Miss Kim’s Unified Family was the most explicitly religious and theological of the missionary groupings. Much of this derived from Miss Kim’s background as a professor of New Testament and Comparative Religion at Ewha University in Seoul. As a missionary, she sought out "church people," expended a great deal of effort in publishing successive editions of The Divine Principles, and achieved legal recognition as a religious organization. Ironically, many of those who joined the Unified Family were in one way or another alienated from organized religion. Thus, rather than churches, the Unified Family set up a network of "centers" across the country. Also, the name "Unified Family" reflected a determination to preserve a personal, face-to-face orientation rather than that of a large, bureaucratic organization. Nevertheless, by the end of the 1960s, the Unified Family had proliferated a number of small businesses, student groups, and the Freedom Leadership Foundation (FLF).

1960. Members gathered at "Oak Hill," Galen and Patty Pumphrey’s house outside Eugene, Oregon. Front row, left to right: Eileen Lemmers, Patty Pumphrey, Pauline Verheyen, unknown, Doris Orme, Young Oon Kim; back row: unknown, George Norton, Galen Pumphrey, Calvin Carey, unknown.

Miss Kim arrived in America as the first Unification missionary on January 4, 1959 in the midst of a raging snowstorm. She came to the University of Oregon in Eugene as a student, but left school to live in a vacant house in Oakhill, a semi-rural settlement several miles east of Eugene to be near her three best contacts -- Doris Walder Anteloch (later Orme), Pauline Phillips Sherman (later Verheyen) and Patty Pumphrey. Later joined by Galen Pumphrey and George Norton, the Oakhill group migrated several hundred miles down the coast to San Francisco in late 1960. There, in the cosmopolitan Bay Area, they had high hopes of reaching a mass audience quickly. However, their efforts were largely ignored or rejected. Recognizing that they lacked an adequate foundation for immediate results, they put energy into improving the Principle text, obtaining legal incorporation, purchasing a three-story building as a training center, and, most importantly, pursuing direct person-to-person witnessing. In July 1962, they opened up mission territory in surrounding Bay Area communities, the most successful centers being in Berkeley and San Jose. To facilitate communication, they re-instituted the New Age Frontiers newsletter which they began in Oregon and held their first "training session" for guests in May 1963. By the end of that year, the group had expanded to Los Angeles and Sacramento and grown to more than fifty members.

At the center on Masonic Avenue in San Francisco. Front: Pauline Verheyen, Young Oon Kim, Doris Orme. Second row: Gordon Ross, unknown, Patty Pumphrey, unknown. Third row: Barbara Vincenz, Edwin Ang. Back row: Peter Koch, Galen Pumphrey, George Norton, Doug Burns.

The mid-1960s were years of transition for the Unified Family. By January 1966, none of the original Oakhill members remained in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Pumphreys and George Norton were in Denver, Pauline Phillips was in Cleveland, Doris Walder was in Rome, Italy, and Miss Kim was in Washington, D.C. Newer Bay Area members also departed, including Peter Koch and Ursula Schumann who had departed for Germany, Paul and Christel Werner who also went back to Germany, then Austria, and Teddy Verheyan who pioneered Holland. Miss Kim went to Washington, D.C., corporation papers in hand, to establish what she hoped would be the headquarters for the Unification Church in America. However, this never happened, primarily due to the unwillingness of other missionary groups to be consolidated within the HSA corporate structure. Therefore, for the remainder of the 1960s, Washington, D.C. was not the hub of a national movement but a vigorous and successfully operating local center which served as an example for a fluctuating number of Unified Families in the United States and Western Europe.

During the late 1960s, the Unified Family pattern consisted of spiritual activities, business, education, and the beginning of what one leader called "political involvement." Spiritual activities included "hours of witnessing, hours of teaching, [and] a lot of fasting" as well as regular center life. Because most members held full-time jobs, this curtailed spiritual work, and various centers attempted to set up Family businesses. The Washington, D.C. center experimented with Kim Home Cleaning and Omega Office Service and the Berkeley center set up Logos Litho-Print. In addition, whereas members previously had been older, often married, and relatively settled, those who joined in the late 1960s were much younger, unmarried, and a significant number were students.

This was consistent with the Unified Family’s focus on college campuses where they listed Free University offerings, established organizations such as "Students for New Age Unification," and sponsored regular programs on themes of a religious or philosophical nature. Consistent with the Unification Church’s "victory over communism" activities in Japan and Korea, the Unified Family set up the Freedom Leadership Foundation (FLF) in 1969. When FLF gained Federal tax-exempt status which prohibited lobbying and demonstrations, members defended U.S. actions in Vietnam and opposed leftists through coalitions such as "Student Coordinating Committee for Peace with Freedom" and "American Youth for a Just Peace" (AYJP).

In January 1971, the Unified Family took two decisive measures, one symbolic and the other practical, to enhance its impact in the United States. First, the group decided to change its name from the "Unified Family" to the "Unification Church" in order to project a more mainstream image. Second, they altered their pattern of growth from a policy of "unregulated expansionism" to one of "reconsolidation" whereby they moved from twenty-one small groups to "five points of power" -- Berkeley, Denver, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. The hope was to foster membership growth, enable centers to implement more activities, facilitate communication, and catch up with the movement in Japan and Korea. Unfortunately, these hopes were not realized. A later Berkeley Center evaluation noted that the influx of large numbers of people brought a different orientation of Principle, criticism of the established center pattern, and confusion over leadership roles. In short, it compounded problems. In Berkeley, serious conflicts emerged, and half of the Kansas City contingent with their director returned less than two months after arriving. In this sense, the final upshot of consolidation was a painful realization that no less than the rival missionary groups, Miss Kim’s own group was disunited.


Minutes from the first meeting of the directors of HSA-UWC, San Francisco, October 1961

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