A History Of The Unification Church In America, 1959–74 -Emergence of a National Movement
By Michael L. Mickler
Miss Kim Joins the Movement
The Mission to Oregon
Flight to San Francisco
A history of the Unification Church in America, like most histories, is somewhat determined by where one begins. If, for example, one begins with the establishment of the "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity" (HSA-UWC), as the Unification Church is formally known, in Seoul, Korea on May 1, 1954, and follows the church through the cities and villages of South Korea during the 1950s, to Japan in 1958, and to America in 1959, the history is one of missionary expansion. If, on the other hand, one begins with the church's early January 1959 arrival in the United States and follows its adaptation to and experimentation within that setting, the history is equally that of the culturally conditioning and potentially transforming influences of American national life.
Both of these starting points are important and will be taken into account. However, this treatment will opt for a third and, perhaps, mediating beginning in the person of Young Oon Kim. Having joined the church in 1954, Miss Kim was the first Unification Church missionary to America and she, more than anyone else, shaped the character of its earliest community. In this sense, a history of the Unification Church in America begins with her story.
Miss Kim Joins the Movement
Unfortunately, the printed sources relating to Miss Kim's life before joining the church and her early days in the church are limited. The most important are her memoirs (unpublished) and a transcribed testimony delivered in Sacramento, California, July 24, 1963. Nonetheless, these contain relevant biographical detail which can be grouped under the headings of formative influences, conversion and mission.
The most obvious formative influence on Miss Kim's early life was the Christian religion. Although born in North Korea during the period of Japanese occupation and raised in a family that "had nothing to do with Christianity," Miss Kim's association followed an internal struggle about "the purpose of life" at age sixteen. Resolving, finally to "go to a church and see what they offer," her involvement quickly progressed to regular attendance, private prayers, vigils, and later, a number of visionary experiences. 1
Academic study was a second formative influence. A graduate of government-run (i.e., Japanese-run) high school and teacher training school in Seoul, she attended Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan and gained admission to the Methodist seminary there. On graduating, she taught at a women's Bible college in northern Korea and, after World War II, at Ewha University in Seoul where she was professor of New Testament and Comparative Religions. According to a church source, she at that time "was a noted woman intellectual in Korean society." 2 She did postgraduate work at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto on a scholarship from the United Church of Canada from 1948 to 1951 and spent six months afterwards attending international Christian conferences in Germany and Switzerland.
Miss Kim first met the Unification Church in late 1954. According to one source, she was dispatched by the president of Ewha University to investigate the teachings of the new group and bring back the students and several faculty who had become involved. 3 Miss Kim's own account is somewhat different:
A friend of mine who was not very close to me, a lady, came to me and said, "I found a small group in town . . . in which a young man, who has received a special revelation in the past twenty years from God, is now revealing, unfolding his revelation, a new truth. According to this new truth, God has already started a new dispensation on earth, and the New Testament Age is now over. Because of this new dispensation, God is outpouring His spirit to people on earth. You must come and listen to this man's revelation, and see if this is truth from God or not." 4
Whichever account is a closer approximation of events (both may be true), the more important question is why Miss Kim agreed to go, especially since returning from Europe, she had suffered from acute indigestion and was confined to her bed. The basic reason for her interest, according to the sources available, related to a pervasive contradiction in her experience. As she put it, "My private prayer or my inner spiritual life and my academic study could not be reconciled." This contradiction might have remained dormant or at least manageable had not her physical affliction brought it to the surface. She stated:
Physically, I was just skin and bones. I didn't eat normal food for a long time. Spiritually, I wasn't ready to die. I had to accomplish something; I did not know what it was. My mission was not fulfilled. 5
Resolved to go "even if I died on the street," Miss Kim met Rev. Moon at a private residence in Seoul on December 27, 1954, and at 2:00 p.m. began hearing the new message or "Principle" in lecture form from Mr. Hyo Won Eu. The lecture cycle lasted three days, and though skeptical of certain Bible interpretations, she accepted the teaching based on three factors: affinities between the lecture on "Creation" and "the writings of Swedenborg which interested me very much," 6 members' testimonies which she deemed authentic, and her own "quite unexpected" experience:
The third morning when I got up, my diarrhea stopped, my kidney was cleared up, my swelling gone and I felt so light inside . . . when you have diarrhea day after day, you feel so dull. Now I felt so light inside and had a real appetite. I ate fish, pork and spicy pickle . . . Digestion was one hundred percent good! I couldn't understand it. So I asked the leader, "I didn't even ask for healing. How did this happen to me?" He smiled and said, "It is not strange at all . . . You stay here and see what kind of things happen in this group." 7
Miss Kim did stay and remained a full four years at Seoul headquarters from the day she accepted the Principle. During those four years before departing as the first Unification Church missionary to America, she took an active role in church organization, teaching and witnessing. Although expelled from her post at Ewha along with four other faculty members and thirteen students (all asked to choose between the university and church), she took a part-time instructorship at lesser known Konkuk University in Seoul and a full-time position as stenographer in the chaplain's office at the United States Eighth Army base, where she recruited two Korean aides de camp. 8 Equally important was her translation of notes from Mr. Eu's lectures into English, assisted by a Pastor McCabe from the Australian Apostolic Mission who, when asked, suggested she use the title "The Divine Principle" for her book. 9 Miss Kim's 1956 text was the first of continuous efforts on her part to develop an adequate English translation. In this sense, her conversion was coupled with a call to the West. As she put it,
As soon as I discovered the universal value of the Divine Principles and the heavenly dispensation, I began to be concerned with the people of the Western world with whom I had established a cultural bond. Not only did I feel this, but in the rest of the membership there was no one else at that time who could undertake the job of bringing the Principle to the West. 10
The Mission to Oregon
Miss Kim was a Unification Church missionary in Oregon from January 4, 1959 until late November, 1960. The pattern of mission and church life that emerged during these two years was influential on later developments. For this reason, it is worthwhile to consider Miss Kim's initiatives in outreach and organization.
Miss Kim had relative autonomy in developing the Oregon mission. Rev. Moon, as she noted, had given her "no guidance regarding the work I had to do: what was to be done, how it should be done, where to start. He was only happy to see the realization of the Western mission." 11 While this may have been an advantage, she also faced a number of disadvantages. The first of these was her visa status. Having come to the University of Oregon in Eugene as a student (the only other way out of Korea was as a diplomat), the demands of full-time course work necessary to maintain her legal status exerted constant pressure. A second obstacle was financial. Although the Korean church collected enough money to cover her travel expenses, Miss Kim was on her own after that. A third disadvantage was cultural. This problem was less a matter of Miss Kim's adaptability to American life than it was the lack of an adequate English edition of the Principle text. Balanced against these disadvantages were Miss Kim's initiatives in outreach. Although varied, these initiatives followed a two step sequence: the singling out of target populations and the development of methods or strategies to reach those populations.
Initially fired with hopes of quickly reaching "church people" and "outstanding individuals with leadership potential," Miss Kim soon modified these aspirations. Rather than mainline churches, she began to seek out Pentecostal prayer groups and new age spiritual fellowships that were more open to new truth. Rather than with leaders, her contacts were with lay people who were more likely to respond.
Methods and strategies utilized by Miss Kim varied according to the target population. Early on, she "decided to write an article and submit it to a number of Christian magazines." Entitled, "The Cross Is Not Enough," she submitted it to seventy selected magazines from the Christian Yearbook. The result was thirty-six standard rejections, six rejections on the basis of length, and nine rejections on the basis of theological disagreement. 12
With a modification in target population, Miss Kim similarly modified her method from an impersonal mass appeal to a more personalized approach. Here, her Korean identity was an asset not only in initiating conversations but also in securing invitations to lecture before groups. These were occasions of personal testimony and of sharing mimeographed chapters from her retranslation (in progress) of the Principle. Traveling via Greyhound, Miss Kim cultivated a circuit of contacts extending from Eugene to Portland, Canby, Salem, Corvallis, and Lebanon. As a result of her efforts, a number of people were interested to learn more. This necessitated a move beyond outreach.
Miss Kim called the first group meeting for those who had studied the Principle on February 13, 1960. From that point, regular meetings were held in the Eugene, Oregon Women's Club where Miss Kim stayed and at the homes of contacts. Although a dozen or so regularly attended, the most promising were three neighbors - Doris Walder Anteloch, Pauline Phillips Sherman, and Patty Pumphrey - from Oakhill, a semi-rural settlement several miles east of Eugene. Miss Kim initially met Doris through a Methodist prayer group, and Doris introduced her to Pauline and Patty. This last contact was fortuitous in that Patty and her husband, Galen, asked Miss Kim, who "was running out of money and could no longer afford to live in Eugene," 13 to move into a vacant house on their property.
Miss Kim moved to Oakhill on May 14, 1960. Until coming to the San Francisco Bay Area in November, this was her base of operations. The previous March, having "established a spiritual foothold," she left school "to devote . . . full time to the work." The move to Oakhill altered the character of that work. Rather than traveling to other cities, Miss Kim devoted her time during her stay at Oakhill "to raising those who were there, showing them how to lead meetings and living in day to day application of the Principle." 14 Raising "members" also accentuated the need for an adequate text and organizational identity.
Much of Miss Kim's first year in Oregon was spent retranslating the Principle from her earlier effort in Korea. Beginning work in April, 1959, she finished translating the first six chapters (Part I) in June and the second six chapters (Part II) on August 15th. 15 On September 16, 1959, she finished typing the translation. The following March, she typed the manuscript on stencils. At Oakhill, on an IBM executive typewriter rented for one month beginning July 15, 1960, she "began typing the manuscript of the first edition of the Principle in book form." Possibly more than any other factor this task solidified the Oakhill community. If Miss Kim "literally worked 16 hours a day" justifying right hand margins on the typewriter, "everyone else was kept busy with proofreading." When the time came for offset printing, George Norton, a friend of Galen Pumphrey who had moved into the Oakhill "center" on July 11th, offered his savings of $1,200 to finance the project. The others, according to Miss Kim, "also brought sacrificial contributions." 16
Along with the Principle text, the emerging consciousness of belonging to an organization also solidified the Oakhill community. Due to the proximity of members, there were more opportunities for meetings and as Miss Kim noted, "We began using a blackboard, took the first photographs of the group, and George Norton taped our meeting for the first time." In mid-June, 1960, the group decided to call its organization the Spiritual Association for the Unification of Christianity.
The need for organizational identity was also accentuated by the presence of another Unification Church missionary from Korea. David S. C. Kim, a founding member of HSA-UWC in 1954, had arrived on September 18, 1959 to attend Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Like Miss Kim, he began witnessing and had gathered several students. The first joint meeting between the two groups took place in Lebanon, Oregon in July, 1960. A larger joint meeting of twenty persons was held there on September 4th.
Flight to San Francisco
Whether or not Miss Kim's and David Kim's groups could have joined forces following the September 4th joint meeting, they were not given the chance as on the 11th, according to Miss Kim's Memoirs, "Doris and Pauline left Oakhill." The reasons for their departure were complex and controversial. According to Miss Kim, "Their husbands . . . were persecuting them. Finally, they could bear it no longer and left without a definite destination." On the other hand, both husbands subsequently sought and gained uncontested divorces on the grounds of "cruel and inhuman treatment." 17 In any case, Miss Kim received a letter from Doris and Pauline on September 15th. They had gone to Fresno, California first. On the 30th, they moved into a hotel in San Francisco.
By the end of the year, Miss Kim and the remainder of her Oakhill group (George Norton, Galen and Patty Pumphrey) had relocated to San Francisco. There were three major reasons for the move. Most obvious was the Oakhill incident which made witnessing in the area extremely difficult. Previously, Miss Kim had been ostracized from Eugene by a disaffected contact who had reported her to the FBI as a Communist. 18 As a result of the current scandal, prospects in the area were not only extremely bleak but local hostility was running high. Both husbands reportedly "harassed" the group, mainly by target shooting in the field across from Miss Kim's house. 19
A second and, perhaps, less immediately obvious reason for leaving the area was the presence of David Kim. Although Miss Kim had been elected president and David Kim vice-president at the September joint meeting, 20 differing ideas over financial responsibilities, witnessing, and even the name of the organization were apparent and a potential source of distraction. A final reason for relocation was the perceived limitation of the Northwest area, itself. Although the printed pages for their new text had arrived by early November, the group could not find a suitable bindery in the area. In Miss Kim's words,
Eugene was a small, conservative city, where I went not by choice, but to follow my scholarship. Next I went to Oakhill, which was only a small settlement in the countryside. There I spent time raising those who had accepted and deepening their understanding of the Principle, as well as teaching the Principle in Lebanon, Salem, Albany, and Portland. I reached out quite widely, considering that I was only one person. I found Oregon quite provincial on the whole, though, and was not reluctant to leave. I yearned to launch my work in a cosmopolitan city. I now had a textbook for wider work. Doris and Pauline, who had left sometime earlier, ended up in San Francisco. It seemed like this was where Father was leading me. 21
1. Young Oon Kim, "Testimony given at Sacramento, California, August 24 1963," unpublished manuscript.
2. Kwang Yol Yoo, "A History of the Unification Church from the Early Days," New Hope News, January 6, 1976.
3. Yoo, ibid.
4. Kim, "Testimony."
5. Kim, "Testimony."
6. Young Oon Kim, Memoirs, unpublished manuscript, 1954-60.
7. Kim, "Testimony."
8. One of these was Col. Bo Hi Pak, later Rev. Moon's public translator in America.
9. David S.C. Kim, "The Establishment of H.S.A. (Holy Spirit Association) and my Role as one of the Original Participants, United Temple Bulletin, May 1970. While on a missionary trip to England in 1955, David Kim spoke before the Apostolic Church International Convention. He stressed the responsibilities of the existing churches "to protect" the Unification movement by sending representatives to study the new message and help. In June 1956, the Apostolic Church dispatched McCabe from the Australian mission. Although he assisted Miss Kim in her English translation of The Principle, David Kim reported, "Because of doctrinal differences, the original purpose of helping our movement by foreign missions was not fulfilled."
10. Kim, Memoirs, 1954-60.
11. Kim, Memoirs, 1954-60.
12. Kim, Memoirs, February 1960.
13. Kim, Memoirs, April 1960.
14. Kim, Memoirs, September 1960.
15. Kim, Memoirs, June and August 1960. It is important to note that Miss Kim's translation and chapter divisions were her own and authoritative within her group. Other Unification Church missionaries, including David S.C. Kim and Bo Hi Pak, wrote their own versions of the Principle which were authoritative within their groups.
16. Kim, Memoirs, August 1960.
17. Kim, Memoirs, Sept. 1960; John Lofland, "The World Savers: A Field Study of Cult Processes," (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, 1964), 124.
18. Kim, Memoirs, March 1960.
19. John Lofland, Doomsday Cult: A Study of Conversion, Proselytization, and Maintenance of Faith, enlarged edition (New York: Irvington Publishers, 1977), 247.
20. "Spiritual Association for the Unification of Christianity," Monthly Newsletter, December 13, 1960.
21. Kim, Memoirs, November 1960.
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