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

by Franco Famularo

Chapter Seven - Transition

Interim PeriodóRobert Duffy's Second Term: 1989-91

A. Interim Period

Between December 1988 and April 1989 a sense of uncertainty existed within the Canadian church. For one thing, the strong leader that had been the dominant force in the movement was gone. Secondly Rev. Moon had not yet clearly assigned new leadership. Franco Famularo, who was asked to lead the church in the interim period, was not in any position to make any far reaching plans. Besides, there were a number of events that were not in the control of any Canadian member. For instance, in late December, it was announced there would be a mass wedding in Korea. About fifteen Canadian members traveled to Korea to participate in the wedding of 1275 couples held on January 12, 1989. It was also understood, at the time that the members, who participated in the wedding, would remain in Korea for a period of up to three years as missionaries. This was the so-called, "mobilization" of members to Korea that was previously anticipated. By mid-February, however, most of the Canadian members had returned from Korea due to various reasons including difficulties acquiring the proper visas.

In the months until April 1989 activities continued as usual throughout the country. For example, a previously planned forty-day intensive outreach effort in Quebec City, brought together many of the French speaking members and the entire MFT. The outreach effort resulted in a series of workshops for several new members such as, Annie Dufour and Alain Marcotte, who joined during that time. Outreach efforts also continued in each center across the country, but were not as fruitful as in Quebec. One difficulty, faced by the pioneers, was that the majority of them did not have much experience in outreach and teaching activities.

On the financial side, February 1989, marked the beginning of the sale of Fiber Optic Lights by Palace Trading in shopping centers throughout Toronto. Initially, under the leadership of Wes Ramage, the private enterprise provided a new source of income which continued for several years. This business venture gave some members an opportunity to develop an income base for the support of the church, as well as for their own families. The MFT was reactivated after participating in the outreach effort in Quebec City and Sylvain Morin was appointed its leader.

By early April, it was clear that Rev. Moon was close to making a decision on Canada's leadership when a message was received that he desired to meet Famularo and Duffy in New York. Although Duffy had refused an earlier request to assume leadership of the church in Canada through one of Rev. Moon's assistants, Rev. Moon tried again. Around the same time news was received that not only would there be a celebration of Parents' Day and a leader's meeting, but that also the time had come to give the "Blessing" to 138 "Previously Married Couples" on April 7.1 Three couples from Canada, Stoyan and Lilly Tadin, Jocelyn and Suzanne Peron and Hae Kun and In Chol Lee participated.

B. Robert Duffy's Second Term: 1989-91

At the end of an international leader's meeting held in New York on April 8, 1989, Rev. Moon appointed Robert Duffy as national leader and said that he would meet both Duffy and Famularo again in six months time.2 However, it was more than two years before Rev. Moon addressed the issue of Canadian church leadership again.

Although Duffy initially refused to take the job, after some reflection he concluded that he would take up the challenge and thus found himself beginning his second term as national leader of the church in Canada. In the twelve years since he held that position, his life had undergone several significant changes. Not only had he been the leader of Ireland for a period of six years until he returned to Canada in early 1983, but he had also endured serious challenges in his life of faith during Paul Werner's time in Canada. He was also the father of a large family as his Norwegian wife, Johanna, had just given birth to their fourth child a few days before his new assignment.

Duffy's large family was one of the factors that contributed to the new style of leadership. Moreover, Duffy's personality and style was in sharp contrast to his strong natured predecessor; indeed, some would say diametrically the opposite. Unlike Paul Werner before him, Duffy's management style was not as highly organized and tight, which further contributed to increased decentralization of the Canadian church. Highlights of Duffy's time as leader can be grouped under the headings, re-introduction, outreach efforts and financial restructuring.

1. Re-introduction

Although Duffy had been in Canada since 1983, he had not been much involved with the church structure and was not that familiar with many of the Canadian members. He had, for the most part, been active in what were referred to as peripheral activities. He had also been very occupied with providing for his family. Therefore, he saw it as necessary to embark on a cross country trip to familiarize himself with the overall situation and to make some "spiritual conditions" for the beginning of his mission.

Therefore, after reporting to the members in Toronto about the then recent changes, Duffy and Famularo embarked on a trip across Canada by car. Since Famularo had earlier arranged to visit each center and hold public meetings in each city where the pioneers had been working, it was decided to continue as planned. Another feature of the trip was that it was decided to do something similar to what the "temporary appearance" of Heung Jin had done in other parts of the world and pray at the grave sights of significant Canadians (the temporary appearance, though he intended to, did not visit Canada).

Unificationists believe that the spirits of people who die continue to live in a spiritual dimension and actively work with people on earth. Spirits, in the view of Unificationists, either inspire and encourage people on earth to do good or spiritually manipulate people on the physical plane to do evil. Thus, in the hope of gaining their spiritual cooperation, it was deemed beneficial for the future of God's providence in Canada to pray for those historic Canadians who made significant contributions to Canadian society and call upon them to help in the advancement of God's work.3 Thus, besides meeting the members and holding public speeches in most cities along the way, praying for spiritual cooperation was another feature of the trip.

In late April 1989, Duffy and Famularo, departed from Toronto to visit members across Canada. The first leg of the trip took them to Montreal, Quebec City, St. John, New Brunswick, and Halifax. While the second part of the trip took them to Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver. In each city, Duffy reported to the members about the then recent meeting with Rev. Moon. In most cities the pioneers had prepared to hold public talks on the aims and beliefs of the Unification Church. The talks, which consisted of a general overview of the Unification teaching, were held in community centers, university campuses, or the church centers, and in most cases did not attract more than twenty people. It was an opportunity for the pioneers to gather their best contacts after having been in their respective cities for almost a year.

As mentioned, historical Canadians were prayed for at their grave sights in most cities. In Montreal the burial sites of Marguerite Bourgeoys, Thomas Darcy McGee, Kateri Tekawitha and the site of the 1689 Lachine massacre were prayed at; in Quebec City at the sites of Bishop Laval and all other deceased Catholic bishops, the Marquis de Montcalm and Marie de L'incarnation. As the trip moved westward, on the list were former Prime Ministers John A. Macdonald, John Diefenbaker, as well as Louis Riel and Father Albert Lacombe. Later in Toronto, William Lyon Mackenzie, Timothy Eaton, George Brown, Oliver Mowat, and others were on the list of those prayed for.4 By praying for the historic Canadians, Unificationists hoped great Canadians of the past would spiritually support the work of the Unification Church. This was seen as a "spiritual condition to mobilize the spiritual world," to use Unification parlance.

The trip provided Duffy with a clearer picture of the Canadian church's situation. Quebec City was bustling with activity, the pioneers were struggling to create a foundation, and the church's financial health needed serious consideration and re-structuring. The MFT, which was also visited along the way, had been reduced considerably. During Paul Werner's time in Canada, there had always been at least twenty members raising funds full time. Furthermore, since membership was often consolidated in Ontario and Quebec the structure of the church provided many opportunities to mobilize the entire membership for fund-raising drives. This had all changed. Not only were members spread across the country, but they also had added expenses through having to support activities in their respective cities. In addition all the pioneer centers were led by married couples. Doug and Fumiko White in Vancouver, Lynn and Miyako Dutertre in Edmonton, Jim and Yayomi Brennan in Winnipeg, Charles and Mariko Casavant in St. John, Richard and Keiko Fortin in Montreal, Daniel and Blandine Stringer in Ottawa, and Tom and Constance Weller in Halifax. Only Quebec City was led by a single member, Helene Dumont. The fact that most centers faced these new circumstances also meant that the traditional sources of income were diminishing quickly.

There were outreach activities during Duffy's period, but none achieved a level of consistency since much energy was expended to financially restructure the church and dealing with Revenue Canada. Outreach activities, other than those in Quebec City, will be dealt with briefly.

2. Outreach Activities

The focus of outreach activities was, as directed by Rev. Moon since late 1988, to prepare people to attend the "Blessing" which was originally planned to take place in 1991, but was later postponed till 1992.5 Since the goal was to conduct a "Blessing" of up to 50,000 couples, it meant that many new members were required and each country was asked to fulfill its part.

Across Canada

Efforts to increase membership during the period till 1991 were intense but, like previously, outreach activities were sporadic. For example, in Vancouver the congregation increased considerably due to a steady flow of members returning to their hometown from various parts of the world. By early 1990, the congregation at the regularly held Sunday Service, consisted of about twenty-five participants.6 Yet, outreach activities were not consistent as most members were gradually adapting to their new circumstances.

A similar situation developed in Montreal, as members also returned to their hometown. One of these was John Bellavance, who returned to Montreal in the summer of 1989, after working as a missionary for twelve years in both Europe and the United States. Since he was previously the state leader of Kansas and had leadership experience, he was soon assigned to be leader of the Montreal Church. As in Vancouver, the church developed a regular Sunday Service and Sunday School. Bellavance also initiated several projects, one being "The Coalition for a Better Human Environment." The coalition, which consisted of several members of the Montreal clergy, was primarily concerned with the problem of drug abuse and held several rallies and meetings to discuss the rise of the drug problem in Montreal. The media quickly took interest when a rally was held in downtown Montreal and interviewed Bellavance, where he explained that he was very disturbed that political leaders in Quebec had not made the drug problem an issue of their political campaigns. (A provincial election campaign was in process at the time.)7 The project initially gained the interest of a Member of Federal Parliament,(MP) David Berger, but when he realized that Bellavance was a Unificationist, the MP retracted his interest.8 Activities in Montreal, until 1991, focused on a regular Sunday Service, anti-drug rallies and meetings, and occasional seminars introducing Unificationism.9

In Halifax, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and as of early 1990 Moncton, New Brunswick and Calgary, Alberta, activities were on a rather fundamental level. Members for example, were using the Associate Member approach to meet people, made contacts with community groups in Winnipeg, attended meetings of spiritualist groups in Halifax, while at the same time started printing businesses, looked for jobs and as, then missionary to Moncton, Gabriel Tuzet, explained shortly after arriving in New Brunswick, he was, "raising funds to create a foundation for his mission."10 Later Tuzet, did outreach activities through contacting academics and through doing door-to-door work.

The Korean Unificationist Community

Another area of development, during the same period, was within the Toronto Korean Unification congregation. As mentioned earlier, the Korean congregation began meeting in the mid-1970s under the leadership of Sung San Lee and Choon Keun Chang. Although Chang had arrived in Canada earlier, Lee had taken charge of the Koreans by 1975, and at that time there were between twenty to thirty people meeting regularly for Sunday Service. After Lee departed in 1978, however, the congregation diminished and, according to Chang, this decrease was because the members were centered more on the personality of the leader than on the Divine Principle.11 In the years that followed, the Changs quietly, but steadily, developed outreach to the Korean community in Toronto. A consistent effort at outreach was through placing advertisements in Korean language newspapers in the Toronto area. The ads, usually half or full page in length, gave general overviews of the Divine Principle or the contents of Rev. Moon's speeches.12

By 1990, there were again between twenty and thirty members that participated in the regular Sunday Service, held at the Canadian Headquarters church in Toronto. A highlight of Korean outreach activities came in June 1990, when a talk for about two hundred Korean residents was held featuring a Korean elder, Joong Hyun Pak, as speaker.

Although the Korean members were not directly involved in the affairs of the Canadian church, they did consistently have input behind the scenes. Their outreach activities developed more or less of independently of Canadian efforts, although there was an increase of cooperation between the two segments of the church between 1989 and 1991 through holding a number of joint activities such as; a monthly Sunday Service, regularly held Sunday school, and a number of workshops for children of members. Before long however, what was referred to as the Korean and Canadian Churches were integrated, largely because of Rev. Moon's intervention.


Also in Toronto, several internal workshops were held for business members, fund-raisers and children of members. Significant was the celebration in the summer of 1989 of the church's twenty- first anniversary. The celebration, which was held at the same time as an internal workshop for most of the membership in Canada, brought to Toronto the first pioneers, Linna Rapkins and Marie Ang, who shared their story of how the mission had started. Also present was Katharine Bell-Erickson, the first woman to join in Canada.

Activities in Toronto revolved around the holding of a regular Sunday Service, occasional one day seminars and week long workshops; a series of International Friendship Evenings, which brought together between twenty and thirty guests, who heard presentations about the Unification Church and its activities; and a series of public speeches in 1991 at major hotels in Toronto. The public speeches, which followed a pattern by then established in Quebec City, were either on the topic of "True Love" or "Life after Death." Advertised through local newspapers and door to door leafleting, the meetings took place on a monthly basis and later weekly between February and June 1991. Attendance was usually between fifteen and twenty people.

Another development was the establishment, in early 1990, of another witnessing center on Davenport Avenue in Toronto. Until then all activities were conducted from the headquarters building. Led by Richard and Keiko Fortin, the nine members living at the center, focused only on increasing membership and conducted regular lectures and seminars.13 The decision to establish a separate witnessing center in Toronto was because the headquarters building was viewed as being too large to create the type of "family atmosphere" required to attract new members. It also coincided with the decision to renovate the headquarters building.

The intended purpose of the major renovations of the headquarters were designed to make the building more attractive for new guests. Mike Templeman, then a member of the Headquarters' staff, wrote the following:

We have always desired to invite others to come and join us, but lets face it the thought of bringing people to a building which looked more like a hospital was a little difficult.14

Indeed, the building had previously been a home for the aged.

Part of the renovation, included the creation of a new meeting area with seating for up to one hundred people. At the time the chapel was getting crowded. The newly renovated chapel was used for Sunday Service and for large gatherings such as the International Friendship Evenings. Renovations began in early 1990 and were completed by June of the same year.

Other significant developments were: the beginning of a monthly newsletter, The Unificationist; efforts to invite former heads of state and media representatives to a conference sponsored by the Summit Council for World Peace (SCWP), and The World Media Association" (WMA) held in Moscow in April 1990; and the holding of a an inter-religious forum in early 1991. The efforts to invite representatives to the Moscow conference, where Rev. Moon held a significant meeting with then President of the former Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, included contact with a number of prominent Canadians.

Former heads of state, editors and publisher of newspapers, numerous political leaders and a wide range of leading Canadians were contacted. One such person was former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who met with Robert Duffy and John Bellavance in January 1990. Duffy and Bellavance were asked to represent the SCWP by the international offices in Washington D.C. At the meeting, held in the former prime minister's Montreal office, Rev. Moon's world wide activities and the then upcoming Moscow conference were discussed. Although Trudeau could not attend, it was viewed as a successful meeting and a good photo opportunity.15

Yet another significant development, related to the same Moscow conference, was that contact was made with former Governor-General of Canada, Edward Schreyer. Through efforts by the Canadian members, in conjunction with the SCWP international office, Schreyer eventually attended the meeting in Moscow and was present along with other heads of state when Rev. Moon met with then President Gorbachev.16 Schreyer, would later participate in several Unificationist activities sponsored by the international organizations of the movement and also introduced Mrs. Moon, when she spoke in Canada's Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, in November 1993.

Finally, attempts were made to re-activate inter-religious dialogue in Toronto, under the auspices of the Council on the World's Religions (CWR). CWR, founded by Rev. Moon and originating in the United States, existed to foster harmony and mutual respect among the religions and believers of the world. According to a church publication, the activities of CWR had three aims:

... intra-religious reconciliation, which seeks harmony among adherents of particular traditions or denominations within religions; inter-religious reconciliation, seeking harmony between adherents of different religions; and cooperation and mutual understanding among existing interfaith organizations.17

In line with this view, a meeting co-organized by CWR and St. Paul-Pietro-Valdo United Church of Toronto was held on March 14, 1991. Ugo Monaco, a United Church minister, and Franco Famularo worked together to organize and host the meeting under the theme of "The Role of Islam Today."

The meeting, attended by seventeen religious leaders of different faiths, featured a speech by Naseem Mahdi, then president of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam of Canada.18 The topic was timely, since it was shortly after the end of the Gulf War. Plans were made to expand activities such as CWR and other outreach programs. But, there were a few surprises on the horizon as will be later revealed.

Also, it is fair to say, the finances of the church were then under considerable strain and considerably occupied the time of some members in responsible roles. The general membership was also quite busy with providing for the basic needs of life and thus fund-raising activities for the church were not as intense as they had been in previous years. This led to a financial restructuring of the church.

3. Financial Restructuring

One very tangible effect of the decentralization process was the reduced income of the church. The reduction of financial support was the result of basically two things; one being that the income base that had existed until 1988 was rapidly disappearing, the other came about through the process that led to the re-acquirement of the charitable status.

Certainly, progress made in reducing the debt load during Paul Werner's period was helpful, but still it became increasingly difficult to service the financial needs of the church organization as it stood at the end of the 1980s. One reason, was the reduction in MFT members, which by 1991 consisted of no more than five to seven people. Throughout most of the 1980s, there had been twenty or more full-time fund-raisers. Another reason was the fact that full-time members were either returning to their hometown or were out pioneering. In addition most members had recently become married couples with children. In previous times membership was mostly single and unattached and often consolidated in Ontario and Quebec. It was, after all, Rev. Moon himself who had directed the members to establish missions in each province and thus consolidation was an unlikely proposition.19

Furthermore, members were increasingly encouraged to develop independent sources of income. One indirect result of the Revenue Canada investigation and its requests to provide detailed information, about the proportion of time spent in outreach activities versus fundraising was that it provided an increased awareness that the church should be downsized and that through diversifying income sources more possibilities for church growth would be made available. In a sense, the Revenue Canada inquiry provided the impetus to do a thorough evaluation of the church's status with regards to its effectiveness in fulfilling its goals and objectives.

Until the end of 1988, most full-time Unificationists survived through fund-raising efforts. As lay missionaries, they lived as monks would in some Roman Catholic monasteries. It was a rather Spartan life, although not uncomfortable. A description of Unificationist lifestyle at the time, appeared in Revenue Canada's 1987 report. Since there had been some concern expressed by the Revenue Department that members were supposedly being remunerated by the church for fund-raising efforts, Mike Brosgall stated the following based on his investigation of church financial records and his observation of life in the church center:

The members get the necessities of life and little more. Food shelter, clothing, personal hygiene items, medical, dental and opthamalogical treatment as needed, and an accountable allowance of $30 per week to cover transportation by public transit and for coffee, donuts and snacks ... No evidence has been seen to indicate that there is a "fund-raising - benefit received" relationship. However, from a practical aspect, not all prospective members become practicing members.20

The time had come, in the view of Unificationists, to cease being organized in a manner similar to monasteries and convents. In a sense, the communal lifestyle which was very centralized had come to an end. This also coincided with Rev. Moon's direction to members to establish missions across the country and in their hometown. Thus, members were encouraged to develop independent sources of income with a view to support the church through tithes and donations as many other traditional churches did. The encouragement to explore new sources of income was generally well received, although it did present its challenges. For most it was more than welcome news and interestingly, Brosgall, correctly perceived that fund-raising was not the most enjoyable activity for Unificationists when he wrote:

They are gradually shown the responsibilities of membership over a period of weeks and part of the responsibilities of membership is fund-raising. (underlined by Brosgall) If a potential member is a willing but not very successful fund-raiser he is most welcome in the church. But, it is true that the most distasteful obligation of membership is to go, day after day, accosting people in the street or knocking on doors. Not all rejections are polite.21

Not only was it unpleasant, it was also not the best way to win friends in the community and influence people.

But, this rapid reduction in fund-raising presented a problem for the church in Canada. Expenses related to the running costs of church buildings and other assets remained generally the same and it would be some time before the members could contribute enough through tithes and donations to sufficiently cover the costs of church properties for example. In fact church revenues were diminishing rapidly and went from a gross income in 1987 of approximately one-million-seven- hundred-thousand dollars to around six-hundred-thousand by the end of 1991.22 Therefore, efforts were made to eliminate, what were viewed as unnecessary expenses and some assets were sold. Although some members were not supportive in retrospect the financial restructuring served as a precursor to the eventual regionalization of the church in 1991, which further decentralized the church's activities. As with many of Rev. Moon's directives, the decision took most Canadian members by surprise. But, before looking at the unexpected changes of June 1991, let us look at another development which was the main source of membership growth in Canada during the latter part of the 1980s and early 1990s. The development of the Quebec chapter, in some respects, served as a model pattern for the Canadian church's eventual regionalization in 1991.


1. "Holy Weddings." Today's World. May 1989. pp. 18-23. (Reverend Moon also conducted a blessing of 42 Couples and "Single Blessing" for 57 individuals on the same day.

2. Personal notes of the author.

3. For an explanation of the Unificationist view of life after death and the activities of "spirits" please consult. Divine Principle. pp. 57-64. & 165-191. Also Young Oon Kim. Unification Theology. New York: HSA-UWC. 1987. pp. 69-75.

4. List of Historical Canadians prayed for. May-August 1989.

5. Chung Hwan Kwak. "Important Dispensational Activities in 1990 and 1991." Today's World. January 1991. p. 1 and 39. Also see Sun Myung Moon. "God's Day Midnight Address. Part II." Today's World. April 1991. p.1. (The Blessing was planned for August 1991 but was rescheduled to August 1992)

6. "Reports from the Mission Field." The Unificationist." March 1990. p. 4.

7. Videotape of Pulse News. CFCF TV 12, Montreal. September 17, 1989. 6:00 p.m.

8. Letters from David Berger, MP St. Henri-Westmount to John Bellavance. February 23, 1990, March 30, 1990. (This issue resulted in a complaint by a number of clergymen to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and other members of parliament for Religious discrimination against the Unification Church.)

9. "Reports from the Mission Field." The Unificationist. March 1990. p. 2.

10. Ibid. pp. 2-4.

11. Interview with Choon Keun & Won Chil Chang. February 25, 1994.

12. See for example. "Unification Church. Unification Principle. Chosun Korea: Weekly Journal of Korean Canadians. Toronto. September 6, 1991. p. 13. (Ads appeared each week.)

13. "Reports from the Mission Field." The Unificationist. March 1990. p. 4.

14. Mike Templeman. "Headquarters Building Undergoes Major Renovation." The Unificationist. March 1990. p. 3.

15. The Unificationist. March 1990. p. 3.

16. Franco Famularo. "Moscow Conference an Overwhelming Success." The Unificationist. May 1990. p. 1-3.

17. New Vision for World Peace. p. 19.

18. Chronology. 1991.

19. Unofficial transcript of Reverend Moon's speech. June 19, 1988.

20. Brosgall Report.

21. Ibid.

22. Financial Statements of HSA-UWC Canada. December 31, 1987 & 1991. Peter Newhouse. 

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