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

by Franco Famularo

Chapter Three - Struggling To Expand [Part 3]

Canadian Leadership -- Rev. Moon's Second Visit to Canada -- Interim Leadership of Alan Wilding Katharine Bell Reassumes Responsibility -- Initial Phase of Centralization

D. Katharine Bell Reassumes Responsibility

On October 20, a week after the members departed, Katharine Bell returned from Korea. She had been away for six months and reassumed leadership of a community which, since its founding, was then facing its most severe crisis.

Shortly after her arrival, she agreed to continue with the schedule implemented during Alan's period of leadership. It was also decided that the members would take courses in public speaking and that outreach activities would no longer be focused only in the central areas of Toronto, but would, for example, also be held at York University in northern Toronto, several miles away from the downtown center.

As the year came to a close a decision was made which would further influence membership growth in Canada. The years 1972-1974 were rather fruitful years for the Unification Church in other parts of the world. No doubt each country's situation was unique. Divergent histories, national character, religious environment, socio-economic conditions, leadership style, methodology used to approach prospective recruits, and numerous other factors were all contributing elements for the growth of the church. But clearly the early to mid 1970s were a very productive period for finding new members of the Unification Church.

Consider a ten-fold increase in the United States, where the Unification Church movement rose from relative obscurity to national prominence between 1972 and 1974.43 In Germany, the Unification Church grew to several hundred members by 1974.44 Increased membership growth also occurred in several other European countries such as Great Britain, France, Italy, and Austria not to mention the substantive strides in Korea and Japan.45 In Canada this was not to be the case as only three new members joined during the whole of 1973. Although there were multiple reasons for lack of growth, the location of their new church center might have contributed toward a lack of public accessibility.

1. Move to Dunn Avenue

In a search for larger, yet affordable space, two houses were found side by side at 78 and 80 Dunn Avenue, Toronto; one to house the men and the other to house the women members of the Unification Church. This location, near the King and Dufferin Street intersections was located several miles from the University campus, the city's downtown core, and the many parks where they had met most of their new recruits.

Initially thought of as being an economically wise move, its distance from where most people mingled contributed to the difficulties involved in recruiting new members. Most new recruits in Canada, during the early 1970s, were young, single and unattached men and women in their late teens or early twenties, and for the most part, depended on public transportation.

For the whole of 1972, in spite of an intense schedule, many open houses, workshops, public lectures and the two hundred and seven visitors to the center who listened to Divine Principle, only four people joined.46 It should also be mentioned that some of the members had also left the church. Progress was not being made at the rate hoped for. The Canadian people were not flocking to the Unification Church en masse and 1973 would prove to be even more trying.

After renovating the two "new" church centers, the focus of activities seems to have shifted to building an economic base, as members became occupied selling Rapkin's Special Brew door to door from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. every week and all day on Saturday.

Although "Open House" was held regularly, only one-hundred and six people visited the Toronto center during the whole of 1973, almost half the number of visitors for the previous year. But, then, another reason was that most of the senior members participated in extensive training programs in the United States during the same year.

2. Belvedere 100-Day Training

It was in early 1973 that Rev. Moon initiated international training sessions for potential leaders of the Unification Church at the Belvedere Estate in Tarrytown, New York. In March 1973, Alan Wilding traveled to Tarrytown to participate in the first international 100-day training session. Here Alan had the opportunity to listen to Rev. Moon and various Korean and Japanese elders of the Unification Church speak frequently. The training session, attended by the most promising Unificationists in the Western World, included in-depth study of the Divine Principle and was often interspersed with appearances by Rev. Moon who sometimes spoke very directly to some of the participants. Indeed in a speech to the trainees, on May 26, 1973, Rev. Moon spoke to Alan Wilding as follows:

Now for Alan Wilding as I see you have many qualities and a good brain, but once you are involved in a thing you become too involved and are apt to lose your balance. I want you to hold yourself back sometimes so that you will be stable in going. If you are overwhelmed too much at what you are doing and forget about other people, you lack the quality of leadership.47

Rev. Moon continued to speak quite candidly to Alan while providing him with specific guidance for his life. He said:

You have keen observation and are keen in every other way, so sometimes try to be dumb. Am I describing you right? (Yes.) You are a handsome boy. If you are too concerned about yourself, that's not right. In order to become a qualified leader you must be more concerned about the members under you, than yourself. Take care of them as you would your own children. Right in the midst of temptation you must be like a rock. You must never waiver. You must be able to put things in order in the way you think, facing and act out things. Are your parents alive? Haven't you grown up in a family where there have been conflicts? You must try hard to be harmonized with other men. You have distinct likes and dislikes. Eradicate those things and try to like and love everybody.48

It seems Rev. Moon was looking to assign an appropriate leader for the Canadian Unification Church at the time and it appeared that Alan would soon be appointed when Rev. Moon said:

Canada needs a leader right away. You are the only one who has gone through the training course. But before your taking charge of all of Canada you must go through pioneering work. What other major cities are there besides Toronto? Would you like to go to Montreal and open a center there? (Yes). Then I want you to work really hard to win more members than they have in the Toronto family.49

Little more than two months later, Alan would become a pioneer missionary to Montreal, and would play an instrumental role in the Canadian Unification Church for many years. However, he would not become the national leader as Rev. Moon had suggested. Along with Wilding, several other members from Canada such as Robert Duffy, Katharine Bell and Bruce Casino also participated in the 100-day Belvedere training held later in 1973.

3. Incorporation of Canadian HSA-UWC

On May 9, 1973 "The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity" (HSA-UWC) was provincially incorporated in Ontario. Although it had been registered as a charitable organization since 1969, the enactment of "The Charitable Incorporation Act" of 1972 made it necessary for charities to become incorporated entities.

Being incorporated, which required yearly meetings, also provided the members of the young church with a more official sense of responsibility. It also meant that the members were obliged to comply with numerous stipulations related to the stated objectives of the association which were then succinctly stated in writing. The pertinent segments of the new Corporation's Letters Patent and By-Laws, a document several pages long, stated in concise form the goals of HSA-UWC and described its corporate structure.50 Its main purpose was to further the work of God and promote the teachings of both the Old and New Testament and the Divine Principles. It further stated that HSA-UWC would also be known as the Unification Church and Unified Family and covered such areas as the responsibilities of the directors, types of activities HSA-UWC could engage in, meetings, quorums, amendments, banking arrangements, appointment of officers, head office and fiscal year. It was signed by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations for the Province of Ontario on March 22, 1973 and recorded and filed on May 9 of the same year. Original signers for the Unification Church were Katharine Anne Bell (President), Marvi Helene Ranniste (Secretary), and Bruce John Thomas Casino (Treasurer).51

4. Fundraising

In June, 1973, the Canadian Unification Church members began raising funds door to door for their charitable purposes. Although they had received their charitable status several years earlier, the members had generally relied on normal employment or their own private business activities to support themselves until that time. With the introduction of fundraising a more flexible organization began to emerge.

Initially they raised funds with flowers at $2.00 a bunch, or three bunches for $5.00.52 Raising funds with flowers was an idea borrowed from their American counterparts, who had earlier developed fundraising activities throughout the United States beginning in 1972. It was generally a difficult experience for most members as the strangers they approached were not always polite. Thus, results were not always that easy to come by. By mid-1973 in order to improve the standard of their economic activities, a fundraising goal of $80 per day was set. Members were encouraged to achieve higher results and follow the criterion set during the 100-Day training sessions in the United States.

Besides raising funds with fresh flowers, Canadian Unificationists also offered the orange spicy drink, Rapkin's Special Brew, in exchange for donations.53 By the end of 1973, the members began fundraising at shopping center parking lots with shelled peanuts, which they bagged themselves, asking for contributions of $1.00 per bag. The first parking lot experimented with was the Yorkdale Mall in Toronto. At the time, achieving the daily goal of $80 was seen as a very successful day. When new members, Wayne Lamond and Jim Buchanan, first broke the $100 barrier, it was seen as a phenomenal victory.54 In later years it would not be unusual for members to raise several times that amount. Fundraising drives would become the major source of income for the Unification Church in Canada for many years.

5. Activities in Toronto

On July 1, 1973 Alan Wilding returned from the 100-day training, while Katharine Bell along with Robert Duffy, who by then had discontinued his pioneer mission in London, departed for New York to participate in the second 100-day training session.55 Alan, having completed the training program, was now filled with new ideas and inspiration and once again took responsibility for the Toronto center. He proceeded to train and educate the members for the rest of the month. Noticing the difficulties experienced in inviting people to the Dunn Avenue center, a pattern was established of approaching people on the busy downtown streets and then driving them to the church center by van. Also, members began inviting people to a weekend workshop which was held on the weekend of July 27-29, at the Ranniste farm near Peterborough. The workshop bore fruit as David Decker joined. David, an American student at the University of Toronto, would later play a significant leadership role for the church in Canada.

Furthermore, during that month of July, forty guests visited the center as transporting people to the center by van had proven to be effective. Another result of the intensive outreach efforts was that Wayne Lamond, then an auditor in training for the Canadian government, joined the Unification Church in Toronto. Wayne, originally from northern Ontario, had a background in accounting, and would play a valuable role in taking care of the church's financial records for many years. In August Alan departed for Montreal and Marvi Ranniste, who had spent several months in the United States the previous year, became the leader of the Toronto center. The members continued their outreach activities with great intensity.

Connection to International Activities

As the movement developed internationally oriented activities, participation by Canadian members was also required. A couple of examples were the efforts to invite academicians to the International Conference for the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) and participation in the Little Angels Tour.

In preparation for the then upcoming 2nd ICUS held in Tokyo, Japan, in November 1973, Bruce Casino contacted Canadian scientists and academics in an effort to invite them to attend. The annual conference, which assembled scholars from a variety of disciplines to discuss the relationship of science to absolute values, would attract significant representation from Canada in later years.

On the cultural front, as part of their world tour, The Little Angels dance troupe, which was founded by Rev. Moon in Korea, toured Canada between August 13 - 20. The Little Angels, composed of young Korean children performed traditional Korean songs and dance at the O'Keefe Center in Toronto as well as at the Exhibition Grounds in Ottawa on August 19. At the Toronto performance the Unification Church of Canada presented a bouquet of flowers to the dance troupe, which was publicly recognized. This gave the young and small group of Unificationists a sense that they truly belonged to a much larger and international movement.

Activities at the University Campus

Meanwhile, in September 1973, the members started approaching people at the University of Toronto's main campus. To attract attention they set up a book-table inside the university's Sydney Smith Building. David Decker, Anne Ranniste and Sheila Cummings were primarily involved in reaching out to the students who expressed interest. Being somewhat talented, they also sang numerous songs to attract potential new recruits.56

The book-table was surrounded by other groups that ranged from evangelical Christians to dedicated Marxist-Leninists. A wide variety of views was represented. It was during that time that Stoyan Tadin, then a student at the University of Toronto, first met members of the church. It would be a few years, however, before he and his wife would join the church.

New organization

Having completed the 100-day training course, Katharine Bell returned from America in November 1973 and once again assumed leadership of the Canadian Church and immediately implemented organizational changes. It was decided that the Toronto center would then be divided along functional lines. One group concentrated on fundraising while the other focused on outreach activities. The changes were as follows: Fundraising was taken care of by Wayne Lamond, Jack Simmons and Marvi Ranniste, while Katharine Bell, Anne Ranniste, Sheila Cummings, David Decker and Jim Buchanan focused on outreach. Dividing into two distinct areas of responsibility was seen as a more effective approach.57

6. First Mission to French Canada

Concurring with Rev. Moon's earlier request to establish a Unification Church Center in Montreal, Alan Wilding journeyed by bus to that city on August 1, 1973. According to his personal diary, shortly after arriving at the central bus station on Berri Street, he prayed in the chapel of a nearby hospital, asking for God's guidance on his mission. The first night he stayed at the American Sunshine Lodge at 1042 Rue St. Denis. The very next day he found an apartment at 4235 Rue Marquette Apt. #201, in Montreal, which would serve as his first center. Alan raised funds with flowers and peanuts for the entire first week. The first person to visit the center and listen to the Divine Principle in Montreal did so on August 9. Fourteen guests visited the center in Montreal during the first month of activities.58

Ronald Marchildon became the first person to join in the province of Quebec on September 11. At the time he was practicing as a chiropractic doctor, but after a brief period of involvement, much to Alan's disappointment, he decided to leave the church. On October 14, 1973, Alan registered Association Pour L'Unification du Christianisme Mondiale (AUCM), the French version of Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, for work in the province of Quebec. During the same month he held a meeting at McGill University on the topic of reincarnation with nine people in attendance and also spoke to thirty-five members of a spiritualist group on October 29.59

On October 26, all the Canadian members, including Jacques Blain, then a potential new recruit from Montreal, gathered in Toronto. They spent the day at Ontario Place, a recreational area in Toronto, and after a Korean dinner entertained each other in an evening of songs and skits. Beginning on November 1, Alan approached people at the McGill University student residence. He also placed advertisements in the daily Montreal Star and put posters at strategic locations advertising a Sunday Service held in his apartment. Then again on November 24, Alan spoke at a spiritualist meeting with forty people in attendance.60

It appeared that Wilding was focusing most of his energies on spiritualist type groups for on January 10, 1974 he spoke to the First Spiritualist Church on Guy Street in Montreal, and also distributed Divine Principle books to the fifty people that attended.61 On March 29, Jim Buchanan, who until then had been involved with the Toronto community, traveled to Montreal in order to assist in the development of activities there.

By July 1974, membership increase led Alan to find a larger dwelling at 3523 Jeanne Mance. Located in an area known as the "McGill ghetto" of Montreal, since many of the neighborhood's residents were students at McGill University, the house served as the church center for the following four years. On August 1, 1974, exactly one year after the founding of the Montreal mission, the new center was officially opened. There were 5 members present: Alan Wilding, Jim Buchanan, Jacques Blain, Regan Sano and Michael Crane.62 The growth of the church in Montreal and later in Quebec City proved to be even more successful than in English Canada.

7. A new mission to Vancouver

In an effort to expand the movement's activities nationwide, on December 22, 1973, Katharine Bell and Anne Ranniste traveled to the Pacific coast city of Vancouver to begin a new mission. This was the second attempt to establish a Unificationist presence in Vancouver since the first attempt of 1965 had been discontinued. In January 1974, Anne Ranniste opened a center at 1873 Nelson Street, Apt. 603., Vancouver B.C.. A month later, Sheila Cummings joined the lone pioneer and by April of the same year, Jorg Heller, a naturalized Canadian originally from Germany, joined as their first member. Jorg, who was then in his thirties, would later make a significant contribution to the activities of the church in Canada before moving to the United States in the early 1980s.

In May 1974, because of a need for larger quarters, the Vancouver members moved to a new location at 2195 West 8th Ave. Later that month while Rev. Moon was passing through Seattle, Washington, the Vancouver members, Anne Ranniste, Sheila Cummings, and Jorg Heller, had the opportunity to meet Rev. Moon at the Seattle Airport.63

By July 4, HSA-UWC was provincially incorporated in Vancouver, using similar articles as the Ontario corporation. During the same month, Mubina Jaffer who had earlier joined the Unification Church in England, became part of the Vancouver Center. Born in Uganda, of Islamic East Indian descent, her family had been expelled during Idi Amin's reign of terror and were now living in Vancouver. While a student in England, Mubina met the Unification Church and later decided to continue her involvement in Canada. She would be one of its most steadfast members. The Vancouver center continued rather steadily over the following years and along with the Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto centers, it was one of the most active and successful cities for the Unification Church.

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