A History of the Unification Church in Canada: 1965-1991

by Franco Famularo

Chapter One - Initial Phase

Rev. Moon Visits Ottawa -- First Presence in Vancouver, British Columbia -- Pioneer period of Linna Miller and Marie Leckrone

The pioneer stage of the Unification Church in Canada begins with the efforts of three American women. The first attempt to establish a Unificationist foothold in Canada was in 1965, but was later discontinued. However, the successful efforts of two American school teachers in the summer of 1968 led to a continued presence of the Unification Church in the country. Equipped with little more than the message they sought to share, the primary focus of the first Unificationist missionaries was, according to their belief, to find the people who were prepared to accept God's modern revelation and in turn follow and attend the new Messiah. Because a handful of recruits were found during 1968, a cornerstone was laid for the establishment of the Unification Church in Canada.

This chapter traces the initial phase from 1965-1968. It is an era characterized by the numerous endeavors of the first pioneers to spread their message to the Canadian people. This account begins, however, with an event which preceded any Unificationist missionary and outreach activity in Canada: Rev. Moon's visit to Ottawa.

A. Rev. Moon Visits Ottawa

On July 1, 1965, Rev. Moon visited Ottawa, the capital of Canada. He arrived on a flight from Washington D.C. via New York's Kennedy airport, on the occasion of the ninety-eighth anniversary of Canadian Confederation. Since Unificationist outreach activities into Canada had yet to begin, Rev. Moon and the two Korean members accompanying him were the first representatives of the Unification Church to set foot in Canada.

Rev. Moon visited Canada as part of his first world tour of forty countries in 1965. The purpose of his visit was to establish and bless a "Holy Ground"; a site where Unificationists would later gather to pray.1 During his world tour, the blessing of Holy Ground was one of Rev. Moon's principal activities and Canada was the third country on Rev. Moon's itinerary. He had earlier visited Japan from January 28 till February 12, where he blessed eight Holy Grounds. From February 12 till July 1, Rev. Moon visited the continental United States where, among other activities, he sanctified fifty-five sites.2 In Canada, Rev. Moon established and blessed a Holy Ground in Ottawa on Friday, July 2, 1965.3 Accompanying Rev. Moon, were two early members of the Korean Unification Church, Mrs. Won Pok Choi and Mr. Sang Ik Choi.4

The site chosen for the Holy Ground was on Parliament Hill, in the center of Ottawa, just west of the Center Block of the Parliament Buildings. At the center of the Holy Ground there once stood a tall tree, but for some reason the tree was cut down in 1979 at the request of Canadian government officials.5 The location of the Holy Ground was within earshot of federal parliamentary offices and in the years since the Unification Church was established in Canada, Unificationists have often gathered at the site for prayer.

Rev. Moon often chose significant public sites to establish Holy Grounds throughout the world. Examples of this are the locales chosen near the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., the Obelisk in the center of the Vatican's St. Peter's Square, as well as the Holy Ground established near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

As was the case for the majority of the countries on his 1965 itinerary, Rev. Moon stayed only long enough to bless the Holy Ground. Thus, on the evening of July 2, after experiencing a brief delay at the airport, he departed for New York City on route to Panama in Central America. Rev. Moon's visit lasted little more than twenty-four hours, but in a sense laid the foundation for future Unificationist activities in Canada.

B. First Presence in Vancouver, British Columbia

During his five month stay in the United States, Rev. Moon directed Unificationists in America to expand Unification Church missions worldwide. According to David S.C. Kim, then missionary leader in the northwestern United States, Rev. Moon instructed his followers to set up "more than twelve foreign missionary headquarters other than the United States within this year of 1965."6 Therefore, the first attempt to establish a permanent Unificationist mission in Canada took place in the autumn of 1965.

Terre Hall, an American who had joined David Kim's group in the United States, was the first Unificationist missionary to venture into Canada where she established a presence in Vancouver, British Columbia on Sunday October 24, 1965. This was also on the occasion of Children's Day, a Unificationists Holy Day.7 The United Temple Bulletin for November 1, 1965 publicized her arrival in Canada as follows:

[Terre] Hall announced the establishment of the United Chapel in Canada on the meaningful date of Heavenly Children's Day. She is active already to find God's children in that city.8

The November 1965 issue of New Age Frontiers listed 3328 West First, Vancouver, B.C. as the address of the first Unification center in Canada.9

Terre's first letter from Canada described her initial activities as follows:

Last night I went to a Bahai meeting and met a young college student who is definitely seeking. She was religious when she was a child but feels nothing in the churches now. Tomorrow night I'm going to begin the lecture series with her. Her name is Donna Pirri. She is 21 years old and a student at the University of British Columbia...10

She continued her report by revealing her dismay at how irreligious university students were in British Columbia at the time. Hall had been told that out of 20,000 university students only 200 had any church affiliation. She was also quite disturbed by what she perceived as a rather sympathetic attitude toward communism by Canadians. In the same letter, dated October 27, 1965, Hall also explained that she immediately began approaching people at the University campus, at religious meetings and other public places. Her report in the December 1, 1965 issue of United Temple Bulletin described her efforts to share the Unificationist teachings with a member of the Unity Church.

During the last month of 1965 Terre also received help from a travelling Unificationist missionary, Pauline Phillips, who at the time had been assigned to visit missionaries throughout North America. Although Phillips, among the first members to join the Unification Church in America, spent twelve days helping Terre in her outreach activities, finding new recruits in Canada was proving to be a difficult task for the lone pioneer.11 By March 1966 Hall expressed how trying her work in Vancouver had become:

The past two months have been a period of indemnity. One by one Satan has been taking my students to him. I have come more and more to feel the Heavenly Father's sadness at the faithlessness of His wayward children. It is no wonder our precious Master has shed so many tears. I sorrowfully add mine to His, praying that they might help to pay the price to Satan for those that will come later to the Father's Kingdom.12

Undoubtedly, persuading people to accept a new faith would prove to be a very challenging ordeal for many who would continue Hall's effort. An initial attempt, however, was being made.

On the weekend of March 19-21 1966, Hall attended a training conference held in Portland, Oregon for all missionaries in the Northwest. During the conference, Terre gave a Divine Principle lecture directed toward those potential recruits with a materialist-scientific point of view.13 However, due to the long trip to Oregon, Hall became ill and thus stayed in St. Helen's, Oregon to recover. Hall attended another training session in May of the same year, but according to David Bridges, then missionary to Eugene, Oregon, Hall had withdrawn from British Columbia due to her illness by that summer. Bridges made a trip to Vancouver on July 4, 1966 and made arrangements to rent a "chapel", from an immigrant anti-communist Estonian family, to serve as the headquarters for Unificationist activities in Vancouver. It was planned that members from Seattle, Washington would visit frequently to preach the message in Vancouver.14 Bridges later reports that he followed up on Halls's contacts in Vancouver during the summer of 1966, for Hall had by then moved to Berkeley, California.15

On February 14, 1967 John Schmidli was appointed as "United Faith" representative in Vancouver, B.C.; however it appears the mission was discontinued that same year.16 The first mission to Vancouver lasted little more than one year. It would be a little more than a year before another effort was made to establish a permanent mission in Canada.

C. Pioneer Period of Linna Miller and Marie Leckrone

Of course, your job is not an easy one. But think - you are going to conquer a nation. How can it be easy? And you are pulling the best person or persons from Canada. Until now you have been just a member here, but on arriving in Canada you will be father, mother, general and servant. You will suffer mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically; but you will gain from it. Even in sleep you will think of it - you feel you have to do something...17

At a farewell party in Washington D.C. on June 15, 1968, Young Oon Kim spoke the above words of encouragement to Linna Miller and Marie Leckrone, on the eve of their departure for Toronto, Canada. Young Oon Kim, who had been the lone pioneer missionary to the United States in January 1959, had fond memories of Canada. Prior to her joining the Unification Church in Korea in 1954, she had done post-graduate work at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto from 1948-51 on a scholarship from the United Church of Canada.18 She was then happy to see, that as a result of her efforts in the United States, two American members had volunteered to initiate a Canadian mission in Toronto; a city dear to her heart.

In an effort to prepare Linna and Marie for the difficulties they would face, Miss Kim, as she was referred to by the members, reminded them of the adversity Christian missionaries had historically encountered and remarked:

The first missionary in India was William Carey, who came from England. He took a small boat from England and sailed around the Cape of Good Hope. He had a rough trip, was seasick and almost died. When he arrived in India he didn't understand the language and had a hard time communicating. He had to translate the Bible. The life work of such missionaries was to convert one or two. A famous missionary in China found one person in three years.19

Miss Kim sought to impress upon the two schoolteachers that their difficulties would be minuscule when compared to those of past Christians and continued to emphasize that their situation was much better than St. Paul's and other great Christian missionaries. She stated that the great saints who had died for their faith while pioneering the Christian Church envied Linna and Marie. Their work would be much easier than past Christian saints. She concluded her farewell address as follows:

In Christian churches at a farewell party they sing, "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." But we sing "Unified Soldiers" because we are marching in a heavenly war.20

Linna Miller and Marie Leckrone began their journey by car from the Washington D.C. area early on Sunday morning June 16, 1968. They arrived in Toronto during the afternoon of the same day.21 Since both were schoolteachers and were to return to their teaching jobs, the mission was originally intended to last only for the summer period. In fact, Miss Kim had initially asked, in April 1968, for two volunteers who had free time during the summer to pioneer a mission in Canada. Linna and Marie had offered because they had the summer months off. Their goal was to find three members during the two month period, but neither Linna nor Marie had any extensive theological training or lengthy experience evangelizing or in church building.

Linna Mae Miller was born in Michigan in 1938 and graduated from Manchester College in Indiana in 1959. It was while teaching elementary school in Virginia that she was introduced to the Unification Church in the summer of 1967.22 A creative person who expressed herself through painting, music, and writing, she had hardly been involved with the Unification Church for a year when she volunteered to become a missionary to Canada.

Linna's first cousin, Marie, who volunteered to accompany her to Toronto, had also met the Unification Church in 1967 and had a similar background to Linna. As Linna, Marie was born in Flint, Michigan, in 1937 and had graduated from Manchester College in 1959. At the time they were both schoolteachers at the Cedar Lane Elementary School in Vienna, Virginia. Marie, however, had joined the church only a few months prior to their departure for Canada; on February 1, 1968. Religiously, both Linna and Marie grew up in a strong Church of the Brethren community, an offshoot of the German Anabaptist movement which stressed religious community, simplicity and piety.23

Upon arrival in Toronto, Linna and Marie immediately started approaching people with their message and also searched for a place to stay. Marie describes the initial hours in Toronto in her diary as follows:

With much anticipation we began catching glimpses of Toronto in the early afternoon...Our third contact is where we are staying tonight. (The first was very Satanic, the 2nd a beautiful but expensive YWCA - the 3rd - clean, comfy with a good atmosphere: Address 309 St. George St.). We scouted around the city - talked to Patrick Henry and Tony. Tony had spiritual experiences and his horoscope said he would meet someone from America who would answer his questions.24

According to Marie they both felt they shouldn't waste a minute and therefore approached people as soon as they arrived.25 While looking for a place to stay Linna and Marie met Martin Carbone three days after their arrival. Carbone became quite fascinated with their activities and sublet his apartment for the summer.

On June 18, 1968, Marie and Linna moved into a bachelor apartment at 88 Isabella Street, Apt. 704, in downtown Toronto, which they sublet from Carbone.26 This served as their residence, as well as a meeting place for teaching their guests. Without hesitation, they began evangelizing and by the end of June, eleven guests had been introduced to the Divine Principle in their sparsely furnished apartment. Carbone expressed considerable interest in Linna and Marie's activities and soon became the first person to hear all the Divine Principle lectures. Indeed Linna and Marie seemed rather excited when he heard the concluding lecture of the presentation as Marie notes:

The most thrilling and exciting moments came last night when Marty heard the conclusion.27 He was so excited and thrilled at the conclusion - he had very little trouble figuring things out. We talked until 3:00 A.M. - and were all very wide awake even then...how thrilling it was to hear him burst forth whistling "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord."28

Martin did not join, however, since he was rather attached to the Catholic Church he had been attending.

Linna and Marie continued to meet people, on the streets, in public places and wherever they could. Mostly they spent their time on Yonge Street and on Bloor Street, but also ventured to Queen's Park, and the University Campus. During the month of July a further twenty-three visitors came to their apartment.29

In her first letter to Miss Kim, Linna wrote that they had been very busy teaching their guests during the first months in Toronto. Indeed, one would be teaching on the balcony, while the other would teach inside the one-room apartment. "Canadian headquarters needed to find larger quarters," remarked Linna.30 By August 10, 1968, Vince Walsh, a Newfoundlander, had become the first person to join the Unification Church in Canada. While hitchhiking westward across the country, he had met Linna and Marie in Toronto's Queen's Park and was finding it difficult to find a ride further west. After agreeing to listen to the Unificationist message, he changed his travel plans and journeyed south to Washington D.C. to further study the Divine Principle. According to Linna, he had no difficulty finding a ride to Washington D.C., where, after hearing an extended presentation of the Unificationist teachings, he later decided to join the Unification Church.31

Shortly thereafter, on August 28, Katharine Bell, originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, became the first woman to join. Katharine, who was twenty-five years of age at the time, had graduated from the University of British Columbia, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics and Fine Arts. She had decided to move to Toronto a year earlier, where she was working as a secretary to the principal of a Catholic high school.32

One day, while Katharine was sitting in Queen's Park reading a book by Teilhard de Chardin, Linna introduced herself and they engaged in conversation. Linna introduced the Unificationist world-view and although Katharine found the philosophy interesting, she felt the explanations provided were oversimplified and too fundamental. Thus, she determined to go to Washington D.C. to investigate the Divine Principle more fully, and in her words, "hoped to prove it false." However, her experience with Linna and Marie, and with the Unificationists in Washington D.C. led her to somewhat different conclusions. In a letter Katharine notes: "Linna and Marie's conviction and ... the spirit at Washington and their conviction and actions brought this truth more and more alive."33 She concluded that she had found what she had been looking for.

By the end of the summer of 1968, the two women had accomplished their initial goal of finding three people to join the Unification Church in Canada. The first three members were Vince Walsh, Katharine Bell and an Englishman by the name of Peter Golding. It would now be left to Linna to further the development of the small community.


1. For a complete explanation of Holy Ground please consult. The Tradition, Volume 1. New York: HSA-UWC. 1985. pp. 59-71. (hereafter The Tradition). (The Holy Ground is often situated in a public place and Unificationists usually pray at the site. According to Unification theology and tradition, all land should have originally belonged to God. Due to the fall of humankind God lost all physical territory to Satan. The establishment of "Holy Ground" was initiated by Reverend Moon in order to reclaim God's land symbolically in preparation for the future restoration of all territory to God's ideal.)

2. David Kim. "Our Master Continues His World Tour." United Temple Bulletin. (hereafter UTB) Vol 2 - Number XV. July 15, 1965. Portland, Oregon. p. 1. (Newsletter of United Temple a Unificationist group begun by Mr. David S.C. Kim, a founding member of HSA-UWC in 1954, he had been sent from Korea as a Unificationist missionary to the United States in 1959 and at the time was based in Portland, Oregon.) References to "Master" throughout the text are allusions to Reverend Moon who was referred to as "Master" until the early 1970s.

3. The Tradition. p.69.

4. UTB. July 15, 1965. p. 2. (Mrs. Won Pok Choi was Reverend Moon's translator and assistant while Mr. Sang Ik Choi, also known in the Unificationist community by his Japanese name as Masaru Nishikawa, had been a missionary to Japan and as of 1965 to the San Francisco Bay Area. Mr. and Mrs. Choi were not related.)

5. Interviews with Alan Wilding and Robert Duffy. There was some speculation that it was cut down due to fear the tree would be used by terrorists. (In the course of assembling a preliminary chronology of the events of the Unification Church in Canada, Alan Wilding, Robert Duffy and the author met almost every week between 1985 and 1987 to discuss matters related to Canadian Unification Church History. Alan Wilding and Robert Duffy were both early members of the Canadian church.)

6. UTB. July 15, 1965. p. 1.

7. Presently there are seven Major Unificationist Holy Days. Besides "Children's Day", the other Unificationist Holy Days celebrated according to the Lunar calendar are "Parent's Day", "Day of All Things" and "True Parents' Birthday". The celebration of "God's Day", "The Day of Eternal Blessing" and "Foundation Day for the Nation of the Unified World" takes place each year according to the Solar calendar. See The Tradition. for further explanation.

8. UTB. "Brief News Reels." November 1, 1965. p. 6. (United Chapel was the name of David S.C. Kim's group based in Portland, Oregon which began in late 1959. It was also later known as United Faith Inc. There were two other Unificationist groups in the United States around that time. Miss Young Oon Kim's group then based in Washington D.C. was called the Unified Family (officially the Holy Spirit Association for World Christianity). She was the first missionary to the U.S. in January 1959. Mr. Sang Ik Choi's group based in the San Francisco/Bay area was later called the International Unification Church. Mr. Choi began his work in the U.S. in November 1965. Each of these three groups developed more or less autonomously until Reverend Moon began to focus his activities in the United States in the early 1970s.

9. New Age Frontiers.(hereafter NAF) "Foreign Centers". November, 1965. Published in Oakland, California till November 1965 and then from Washington D.C. from December 1965 onwards. (Newsletter of the Unificationist group founded by Miss Young Oon Kim, who was the first Korean missionary to the United States, arriving in January 1959. The word "center" in Unificationist parlance refers to the apartment or house where Unificationists lived from which they conducted teaching and outreach activities.)

10. "Brief News Reels." UTB. November 1, 1965. p. 6.

11. Pauline Phillips. "Letter from Pauline Phillips - December 7, 1965." NAF. December 1965. p. 15. Also "Letter from Pauline Phillips - January 6, 1966. NAF. January 1966. p. 8. (Phillips arrived December 5, 1965)

12. Terre Hall. "Brief News Reels." UTB. March 15, 1966. p. 3. (In Unificationist lingo the word indemnity is sometimes used rather loosely but it is a central concept of Unification Theology. For Unificationists the concept of "indemnity" involves doing good sacrificial deeds which can cancel 'bad debts' accumulated by a person, his ancestors or the whole of humanity. Generally speaking, the more difficult and unpleasant the task is the greater the indemnity paid for one's own or others' misdeeds in the past. In this manner through making conditions of indemnity one contributes to overcoming the many obstacles to realizing a Godly world. Payment of indemnity qualifies people to become free from Satan's dominion and united with God.)

13. "Monthly Training Conference." UTB. April 1, 1966. p. 2.

14. "Report from Vancouver, B.C. Canada." UTB. July 15, 1966. p. 7.

15. UTB. September 15, 1966. p. 6.

16. "Newly Appointed American Missionary Representatives At Home and in Foreign Missions of United Faith Movement." UTB. February, 15, 1967. p. 5. (According to UTB February 1971 a missionary from United Faith was also appointed to Canada in December 1970, but this effort did not result in a continuing mission.)

17. "Farewell words to Linna Miller and Marie Leckrone on the eve of their departure for Canadian mission." NAF. August, 1968. p. 23-24.

18. Michael L. Mickler. A History of the Unification Church in America 1959-1974: Emergence of a National Movement. New York & London: Garland Publishing. 1993. p. 4. (Hereafter A History of the UC in America)

19. NAF. August, 1968. p. 24.

20. Ibid.

21. Marie Leckrone Ang. Diary. June 16, 1968.

22. Marie Ang. "In Memoriam - Linna Mae Miller Rapkins - January 31, 1938 - July 21, 1993." Today's World. September, 1993. p. 39.

23. Interview with Marie Ang. January 25, 1994. (Also see Dan Fefferman. "American Pioneer - Coming Home - Linna Mae Rapkins: Teacher and Giver." in ACC Hometown Magazine. December 1993. Issue Three. Falls Church Virginia. p. 27.

24. Marie Leckrone Ang. Diary. June 16, 1968.

25. Interview with Marie Ang. January 25, 1994.

26. Agreement between Martin E. Carbone and Marie Leckrone and Linna Miller. Tuesday, June 18, 1968.

27. The conclusion refers to the final chapter of the Divine Principle lecture series which reveals that the Messiah was born on earth in the earlier part of the 20th century.

28. Marie Leckrone Ang. Diary. June 25 & 26, 1968.

28. "Guest Book" of Unification Church in Canada. All visitors were encouraged to sign. (Stored in Unification Church of Canada Archives.)

30. Linna Miller. "Letters and Reports - Toronto." NAF. September, 1968. p. 2.

31. Linna Miller. "From the Land of the Maple Leaf." NAF. May 1970. p. 35.

32. Interview with Katharine Bell Erickson. January 16, 1994.

33. Katharine Bell. "Letters and Reports - Toronto." NAF. December, 1968. p. 23.

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