40 Years in America

Reflections on the ICC

Kevin McCarthy

Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy signing the ICC Proclamation

Amazing phenomena have been taking place in these conferences. The ministers are not just having a good time but are having internal experiences of God’s spirit manifesting from within. After attending Sunday service at the headquarters church in Seoul or praying at the Rock of Tears, many ministers have incredible prayers or receive very specific revelations about Father. You can see the look on their faces; they become curious and contemplative. Their question is simple: If this is a heretical church and Rev. Moon teaches heresy, how in the world can the spirit of God come down so powerfully in this church? They’re not sensing just the common Sunday-service spirit of God. This is the most powerful spirit they’ve ever experienced. At the time of Jesus the spirit of God manifested very strongly, but outside the doctrines of Jesus’ contemporaries. That’s exactly what’s going on here.

Once I reported directly to Father, "Father, there are interesting phenomena happening at these conferences." Father looked at me with that deadeye look, and said in English, "No! Not interesting. SERIOUS phenomena." Teaching the Principle should not be just explaining what we believe. We need to give the ministers a direct experience of God through His word in the 20th century.

I feel that if we, as lecturers, can conditionally fulfill our responsibility to proclaim God’s absolute word, then something unimaginable by even the greatest stretches of our faith can take place in these conferences. When God feels confident that we lecturers are standing squarely in that sanctified position, then He will bring about some "serious phenomena" directly through His word, the Principle. When we hit that point, and become more focused on that spirit, multitudes of ministers will come, and they will have not just an interesting experience, but a serious one.

It is important to grasp the context within which the ICC and other events of this period transpired. As already noted, Rev. Moon used the term "wilderness course" to describe his forty-year ministry from 1945-85. Originally, he hoped that Korean Christianity would accept his Second Advent ministry, that it would serve as the basis for unifying the Fatherland after World War II, and that within seven years, by 1952, worldwide Christianity and, indeed, the world would have entered a Completed Testament era. This sequence of events, of course, did not transpire, and Rev. Moon endured a lengthy internal and then, by choice, an external exile from Korea. With the victory of Danbury, the forty-year wilderness course ended and a "seven-year course for the settlement in cosmic Canaan began." Canaan, according to one church commentary, was "the land of the ancestors" and signified "the homeland." Hence, between 1985-92, Rev. Moon attempted to connect the foundation he had established worldwide to Korea. He came not as a prodigal son who had squandered his inheritance but as one who had made good in the world and who had something to give. From this perspective, he came as a universal Jacob returning from exile, bringing substantial offerings, and seeking his rightful position.

Rev. Moon’s timing in returning and in making Korea the focus was again impeccable as it was during this period that Korea was emerging on the world stage. The 1988 Olympic games held in Seoul were symbolic of this. More importantly, the country was democratizing. There were legitimately competing political parties and a significantly more open atmosphere. The movement took advantage of this in organizing the ICC meetings as well as several World Professor Lecture Tours, which likewise testified to Rev. Moon’s international significance. In 1987, Rev. Moon inaugurated the Citizen’s Federation for the Unification of the Fatherland. He criticized the North as one of the world’s "most primitive and closed societies" and stated that Korea must make itself known in the international community as an advanced democratic nation. In 1988, he staged an "internal Olympics" inviting church missionaries from more than 100 nations to Seoul where they met teams and officials from each of the 160 countries represented and served up "more than 40,000 cans of McCol, a movement-produced soft drink, and bottles of Ginseng Up." More than 2,000 guests attended officially-sanctioned cultural events at the Little Angels Performing Arts Center, and after the Games, Rev. Moon announced plans to sponsor an "Olympics of World Culture" celebrating not only athletics but the full range of human activities.

There was evidence that Rev. Moon was achieving a substantial level of acceptance in the new Korea. On December 11, 1985, a successful homecoming banquet was held in honor of Rev. Moon at the Hilton Hotel in Seoul. Some 2,200 guests including "Korean leaders from every field of human endeavor" and "international dignitaries" gathered "to pay tribute to the conclusion of...[Rev. Moon’s] 40-year ministry and to welcome him back to his homeland." The following year, the Nampyung Moon Clan Tribal Association named him "Tribal Chief" and in 1989, the Korean Root-Finding Association, a national organization made up of the leadership of literally all (about 275) of the Korean traditional family, or clan, names, asked Rev. Moon to be Chairman. The installation ceremony had a deep restorational meaning for members. Reflective of the democratization in Korean society as well as of openness toward Rev. Moon, the movement obtained permission to start a new daily newspaper, the Segye Ilbo, in 1989. It also received approval to establish Sung Hwa (later Sun Moon) University. That same year, the movement-sponsored Il Hwa Cheon-ma (Heavenly Horse) Soccer Team gained a franchise in Korea’s top professional soccer league.

Rev. Moon made an offering of these and other conditions in three separate ceremonies in Kodiak, Alaska between August 20 and September 1, 1989. He declared the Ae-Won or "One Heart" providence on August 20th. Then he performed Pal Chong Shik or "The Ceremony of the Settlement of Eight Stages" on August 31st. Lastly, he proclaimed the era of Cheon Pu Ju-eui or "Heavenly Parentism" on September 1st. Taken together, these ceremonies signified to Rev. Moon that meaningful opposition to his work had passed and that the way was open for a more direct and public expression of his messianic role.

The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe during the fall of 1989 and the beginning of the end of the cold war only confirmed this. In February and March 1990, the movement held its first "Welcoming True Parents" rallies. Still, there was a degree of ambiguity. Rev. Moon’s speech, "True Unification and One World," contained no explicit reference to his messianic status and listeners were left with the impression that everyone should strive to become True Parents. In America, the five Welcoming True Parents rallies were delivered in Korean and addressed exclusively to Korean-American communities. Reportedly, Rev. and Mrs. Moon declared themselves to be True Parents more unambiguously in Korea during a twelve-city speech following the Moscow Rally and breakthrough meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in April 1990. Still, "True Parents" was an unfamiliar term and not necessarily associated with the Second Coming of Christ. The closest Rev. Moon came to such an affirmation in the United States was at the Second Assembly of the World’s Religions held in San Francisco on August 15-21, 1990. In his Founder’s Address, entitled "The Tradition of True Love and Bequeathing that Tradition," Rev. Moon stated,

Before this world can enter into the realm of true love and true family, the True Parents’ position has first to be established. To help fulfill this very purpose I have been called upon by God... I have suffered persecution and confronted death with only one purpose in mind, so that I can live with the heart of True Parents to love races of all colors in the world more than my own parents who gave birth to me, or my own brothers and sisters.

The San Francisco Chronicle seized upon this remark to suggest that Rev. Moon had identified himself as the Messiah. It was true that he defined "the mission of the Messiah as a mission of True Parents" in the speech. However, claiming that he had been called by God to help establish True Parents’ position and that he had suffered in this effort was still a long way from an exclusive identification of the position with himself. In fact, Rev. Moon stated that all religions were called to do the same. It seemed as though there was still one more puzzle piece that needed to be properly positioned before Rev. Moon could affirm unequivocally his unique role.

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