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

by Franco Famularo

Chapter Five - The Porter Era [Part 1]

A Married Couple leads the Church -- Rev. Moon's Fourth Visit to Canada -- Three Areas of Activity: Outreach, Ideological, Financial -- Increasing Opposition and the View of Outsiders -- Canada at the Crossroads Speaking Tour -- A New Phase

The movement toward centralization which emerged during Duffy's period was further intensified during Martin Porter's term as national leader. Increased opposition to the Unification Church by the "anti-cult" movement, the forcible kidnappings and attempted "deprogrammings" of some members, as well as moves by political leaders to introduce legislation that would make it difficult for people to join new religious movements such as the Unification Church were some of the key developments of this period. These events led to an increased solidarity and centralization of the movement. Furthermore on the international scene Rev. Moon was indicted by a United States grand jury and eventually sentenced to prison on charges of tax evasion in the early 1980s. The trial received much negative media publicity, but among Unificationists was seen as a discriminatory action by the United States government and thus solidified the view that members of the Unification Church were indeed a persecuted religious movement. In turn this served to strengthen the cohesiveness of the movement.

The Canadian church was further influenced by events in other parts of the world. One of these was an unsuccessful libel case launched by the leader of the Unification Church in Britain against the Daily Mail, a London daily newspaper. Another was the activity of a Californian branch of the Unification Church where many Canadians joined. Benji Carroll of Montreal, for example, who joined the church in San Francisco and was eventually "rescued" by his friends, was the subject of much media publicity in Canada. One of Benji's friends who helped in the "rescue" was a reporter for the Montreal Star, who wrote a series of front page articles about Benji's involvement with the Unification Church. The articles were reproduced in several Canadian newspapers and led to the publishing of a book and an award-winning film which put the Unification Church under the national spotlight in Canada. Numerous newspaper articles and television programs which appeared during this time caused Unificationists in Canada to become acutely aware that they were living under increased public scrutiny. These developments all served to further solidify the centralized nature of the movement. Before considering the above issues, however, it is worthwhile to look at the backgrounds of the new leaders of the Unification Church in Canada.

A. A Married Couple Leads the Church

On June 1, 1977, Martin and Marion Porter and their two young children, Tim and Hanida, arrived in Canada. Born in Hampshire, England on March 27, 1942, Martin met the Unification Church in 1965 and joined in Rome, Italy in early 1966.1 Raised an Anglican, Porter, who was interested in visual communications, spent some years travelling in Europe and the Middle East compiling a portfolio of documentary photographs. In 1961 he enrolled at the University of Florence to study sociology and later attended a film school in Rome. According to his testimony, while producing a documentary on a hospital for child victims of polio, he became deeply affected by the hopelessness and suffering of the children and could not help wondering who was responsible for such suffering; God or man. He had not been attending church regularly when a friend invited him to an evening of lectures about "a new revelation by a Korean visionary."2 In a 1966 letter to New Age Frontiers Porter shared his story:

... I did not attend church for 6 years because none could answer my questions ... Three weeks ago I came into Principle, and after a few lessons knew that in these pages there was a very special message.3

Porter became very helpful as a translator for the first Unificationist missionary to Italy, American born Doris Walder Orme. By the summer of 1967, when Orme and others departed for England, Porter became responsible for the Italian Unification Church; a position he held for ten years. With a handful of fellow Unificationists, he was instrumental in developing a church movement which when he departed from Italy in 1977, consisted of over twenty church centers, several hundred members, a monthly magazine and a number of business enterprises.4 During his time as national leader of Italy, Porter had also served in a leadership role throughout Rev. Moon's American speaking tours of the early 1970s. Porter, who was thirty-five years of age when he assumed leadership of the Canadian church, had considerably more experience than his predecessor.

On the personal side he was among the first Europeans to be blessed in marriage by Rev. Moon in 1969 and had two children; Tim and Hanida, born in 1970 and 1971, respectively. Additionally, his life experience already included marital crisis. His 1969 marriage to an Italian member had ended in divorce. A few months prior to arriving in Canada, in February 1977, he was re-married by Rev. Moon to Marion Dougherty, someone he had known since his early days in the Italian church.

Marion was among the first members to join the Unification Church in Italy in 1965 and was present when Martin first visited the center. Before joining the Unification Church she had been married with children, but her family did not follow her lead to join the church. She too had experienced marital difficulties and divorce. In the summer of 1967 Marion went to England and helped develop the church in the British Isles for several years before returning to her native United States where she worked for the church until 1977. The Porters added a mature element to the Canadian church which then consisted of mostly single members in their twenties.

Immediately after arriving, Rev. Porter, as he was referred to by the members, called for a meeting of the entire membership at the Spadina center in Toronto. Noticing that the number of active members was limited, it was decided that an intensive outreach campaign begin immediately. Members were asked to discontinue all other projects and to focus singularly on finding new recruits as well as raising funds. A One World Crusade Team was formed and Alan Wilding, who until then had been involved with Victory over Communism work, became the leader. The strategy was to invite people to open house meetings or barbecue nights at the center and from there to invite them to weekend workshops. As a result of these efforts, sixty-seven guests visited the center in Toronto out of whom eight attended the workshop during the month of June.5

In order to familiarize himself with the status of the church, Porter embarked on a tour of the entire country visiting Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City during the month of July 1977.6 With impressions formed from his whirlwind tour of the country, Porter concluded that, among other things, new locations for church centers were needed, especially in the two major cities of Toronto and Montreal. One member, Marc Laurin, remembered Porter's comments upon visiting the Montreal center on Rue Jeanne Mance. He said: "This place is a dump. It is not the kind of place people who visit our church will feel attracted to."7 Porter had a similar impression of the house on Spadina Avenue in Toronto and wasted no time putting it up for sale and relocating the church center. Thus, in August 1977, using the services of Dick Heuff, a Toronto real estate agent, who later participated in several church related transactions, a new center was found at 80 Admiral Road in Toronto. On September 16, 1977 the members moved to the new property to begin with renovations. Centrally located and in the vicinity of the German consulate it was no doubt an impressive purchase and a step forward for the members at the time. This was only the first of several real estate purchases Porter would make for the church during his term as national leader. Indeed the real estate portfolio of the church increased many fold during the six years he spent in Canada. Most members were called to Toronto to help with renovations. Walls were knocked down to make space for a larger meeting room and as dust was flying all over the place Porter received a rather surprising message over the telephone; a call which informed him of a visit he had definitely not foreseen.

B. Rev. Moon's Fourth Visit to Canada

In September 1977, Rev. and Mrs. Moon were visiting church members in several American cities. Early on the morning of September 17, Porter received a call from Niagara Falls, informing him that Rev. and Mrs. Moon would be arriving in Toronto by car a few hours later. Since the state of the church center was in chaos due to the renovations which had begun the previous day, Porter arranged to meet Rev. Moon and his party and took them for a tour of the CN tower, the tallest free standing building in the world.8 Rev. Moon often expressed interest in visiting the highest point in the city or country he was visiting. Porter described the situation as follows:

Much to our happiness and also embarrassment the True Parents called at 7 a.m. on the 17th of September to inform us that they would be in Toronto by lunch time. I met them at the CN Tower, the tallest free standing structure in the world, and we took the elevator to the first observation level to appreciate the panoramic view of the city and the lake. Then as it was a sunny day we entered a much smaller elevator to ascend to the highest level. From that height the perspective of the city was somewhat shortened but we could see New York state far into the distance on the south side of the lake. The True Parents were interested in many things, and I desperately hoped to entertain them while delaying their arrival at the center. I gave them an extensive tour of the city and lunch in the Emperor Chinese Restaurant, while my wife and members did what ever preparation could be done at the center: Food for dinner, tableware, plates, general cleanup of the ground floor and even get a toilet working that the True Parents could use.9

In the early afternoon, Rev. and Mrs. Moon arrived at the center on Admiral Road. Rev. Moon was taken on a tour of the building and soon after sanctified the new center with Holy Salt.10 He commented that the building was too small and encouraged Porter to find a larger building for outreach activities.11 He then spoke to the members for the entire afternoon as Colonel Sang Kil Han translated. Commenting on the sudden nature of his trip he said:

Well, this was an unexpected trip. Whatever I do, everyone watches with binoculars. They have heard too much about me. Perhaps more than you, and are afraid, so they watch everything. So I decided this morning to come and then no one knows. Did you know I was coming ... You don't sound confident. Canada is more feminine than Americans. Canadian women must marry American men and Canadian men must marry German women, okay! Now it is best that we laugh and become friends in a short time.12

Most of Rev. Moon's talk, however, addressed the following two issues; the potential division of Canada and the spread of international communism. Rev. Moon noted:

Communists will come and try to bring division here, but the Unification Church must prevent this. How can we cope with the situation? The Chinese communists are growing strong here ... I don't have an accurate report yet, but I know there are people in important positions on many college campuses ...13

Rev. Moon continued to emphasize that the spread of communism was an imminent danger and encouraged that Victory Over Communism (VOC) activities in Canada be intensified from that time on.14 Sensing the tension that existed between Korean and Canadian members Rev. Moon spoke of Sung San Lee as follows:

...He is a rare member as he worked so hard for VOC in Korea and has long experience. Mr. Lee will be head of VOC in Canada. Tradition is the immediate problem now. Mr Lee is in a position to offer much in this way. The fact that he was reared in Korea makes him a rare benefit to the church in Canada. But he must listen to the leader of Canada for this reason... He is senior in the blessing order. So you can learn from him...Once we accept difficulties and overcome them there is much blessing.15

He also encouraged Martin Porter to bring harmony among the membership saying:

The way you are built Martin, you have the ability to bring the races together here. That's why I asked you to come. If New York asks how is your relationship with the Koreans you must be proud of the relationship. If you don't realize that, how can heaven be in your mind?16

Rev. Moon was very concerned that harmonious relationships be created among the Korean and Western leadership of the church at the time. Establishing good relations between Korean and Western members proved to be a difficult hurdle to cross in the years that followed.17

Rev. Moon then spoke at length to the Korean members who attended and also answered several questions from the Canadians. Close to the end of his stay he asked some of the members to sing songs. Mubina Jaffer, David Decker and Monique Zicot sang a number of songs. Over dinner, Rev. Moon gave quite specific instructions to Martin Porter. Porter notes:

Over dinner True Father gave me $10,000 for the renovation of the building and developing the Canadian church. I tried to refuse the money graciously, but when I found that was impossible I reassured him that I would return it 10 times over in the next few years: this pledge was realized. True Father gave specific instructions to me about what he wanted to realize in Canada under my direction: Develop Anti-Communist activities through education and the development of the newspaper, hold Canadian Day of Hope speeches and rallies nationwide, develop more members and training courses, look into purchasing pairs of spotted deer and bears, obtain land for a deer farm surrounded with a lake and mountains, develop a lumber industry with a type of Korean tree that reaches maturity in 7 years, develop a fishing industry, use my photographic ability to make an exhibition of the "100 Greatest Canadians," (in politics, culture, sportsmen, etc).18

After dinner Rev. Moon and his party departed and continued their journey throughout the United States that same evening.19

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