40 Years in America
Launching the World Mission 1975–76
Rev. Moon with the some of the missionaries at Barrytown before their departure for their respective countries
Before Coming To America, Rev. Moon made strong efforts to solidify the church’s national foundations in Korea and Japan. In the same way, having solidified the American movement, he launched the church’s world mission during 1975-76. This involved some sacrifices for the American movement. Several hundred members joined the first Global IOWC team in early 1975, and later that spring the American church sent out dozens of its most experienced and best leaders as pioneer missionaries throughout the world. It also involved two major challenges. The first challenge was familiar.
That is, just as in America, the church throughout the world needed to escape from obscurity and become known. Rev. Moon hoped to accomplish this through huge rallies at New York’s Yankee Stadium and the Washington Monument which would gain the world’s attention. The second challenge was new. Whereas the movement was able to conduct its whirlwind Day of Hope tours within a climate of receptivity, the Yankee Stadium and Washington Monument rallies unfolded within a climate of increasing negativity and even persecution. Ironically, the controversies that erupted over the Unification Church during 1975-76 helped the movement attain international visibility.
Launching the Worldwide Movement Abroad and in America
Rev. Moon long considered the United States to be the gateway to the world. In early 1975, the Church launched activities worldwide based upon its successes in America. The initial step was the creation of a global Day of Hope team. On January 14, the first global team, which included some 340 American and European members, boarded a chartered jumbo jet in Los Angeles for Tokyo. There, they joined forces with an even larger contingent of Japanese members to evangelize and hold Day of Hope rallies in Tokyo, Sendai, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. After spending nearly 80 days in Japan, a 500 member-plus global team traveled by ferry to Pusan, South Korea on March 27th. There, from April 1st until May 17th they supported massively-attended Day of Hope festivals in Pusan, Taegu, Seoul, Inchon, Jeonju, Kwangju, Taejon, Cheongju and Chuncheon. Prior to this, Rev. Moon was the guest of honor at a Day of Hope banquet in Seoul at the Chousen Hotel on January 16, 1975. With more than 600 prominent guests, including the Speaker of the Lower House of Korea, this was something of a coming-out party at which Rev. Moon could offer testimony to the work in America.
A second step in the launch of its worldwide mission was the international marriage blessing of 1801 couples in Seoul’s Changchung Gymnasium on February 8, 1975. Billed as the "largest wedding in human history," the ceremony brought together couples from twenty nations, including seventy-six from the United States. Over 10,000 guests witnessed the event, after which couples boarded ninety-four sightseeing busses for a parade through the streets of Seoul. Apart from generating substantial coverage worldwide, the 1800 Couple Blessing provided much of the personnel for a third major step in its worldwide outreach, the establishment of missions to most nations of the world. Prior to 1975, the movement had established a presence in Korea, Japan, the United States, the European nations, Canada, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, India and several Middle East and South American nations. However, this development was haphazard and lacked overall coordination. In the spring of 1975, the movement more than doubled its overseas mission by sending out teams consisting of one Japanese, one German and one American member to 130 nations. Rev. Moon explained that Japan, Germany and America had been the three most materially blessed nations since the end of World War II and requested that each of them make the sacrifices necessary to support the foreign mission.
The movement’s final step in launching its worldwide mission during the first half of 1975 was the "World Rally for Korean Freedom" sponsored at Yoido Island Plaza in Seoul on June 7th. The immediate context for this rally was the fall of Cambodia and Vietnam to communist forces in late April. This heightened insecurities in Korea about the American commitment on their peninsula and raised the specter that they could become a second Vietnam. The Korean government sponsored a May 22nd rally for national unity. However, the Park regime was under attack in U.S. newspapers. In fact, while criticizing human rights violations in the South, the New York Times printed full-page statements by North Korea’s "Respected and Beloved Leader," Kim Il Sung. Convinced that Kim Il Sung was trying to invade the south by taking advantage of the Indochina situation, Rev. Moon determined to stage a massive rally that would be different from the government’s previous effort. First, it would blame Kim Il Sung "not only in the name of the people and mankind, but also in the name of God." In other words, there would be a crusading edge to the rally. Second, the rally was to be a "worldwide convention" with not only Korean people gathered but also 1,000 representatives from 60 countries ready to offer their resolve for "the protection of Korea and the whole world."
The world representatives were members of the Unification Church’s global IOWC team which had swelled to that number during the spring Day of Hope campaigns in Korea. Their final push was the Yoido Island rally. For that purpose, four-person groups consisting of Korean, Japanese, American and European IOWC members distributed some 5 million leaflets and as many as 1,700 chartered busses were used for transport from local cities and provinces. The rally itself was a staggering spectacle. Estimates of attendance in Seoul press accounts ranged from 600,000 to 1.2 million. Three hundred persons, including the representatives of sixty nations, occupied the huge platform stage and the thousand-member IOWC team sat at the front with banners. A million Korean flags were distributed, and 2,400 police were mobilized for crowd control. In his principal rally address which was entitled, "Korea in the World," Rev. Moon proclaimed that "enthusiastic youths from 60 different countries" would "defend this country to the last, at the cost of their lives." Noting that "world members" of the Unification Church regard Korea as "their religious fatherland and holy land," he warned that if "North Korea provokes a war against the South Korean people," his followers would organize a "Unification Crusade Army" and "take part in the war as a supporting force to defend both Korea and the free world." American HSA-UWC President Neil Salonen echoed these sentiments in his rally statement, affirming that the representatives of sixty nations would "rise up, barehanded if necessary" to oppose renewed aggression. A "Resolution of World Representatives of the Unification Church International from 60 Nations" similarly stated that "if the North Korean Communists should ever invade the Republic of Korea, we shall immediately organize a voluntary army of crusaders to preserve and defend our holy land."
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