The Early Unification Church History

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By 1965, with the mission in the United States now over five years old, the early members looked forward to the day when Reverend Moon would visit America. There were spiritual conditions that needed fulfilling before his arrival, mainly a foundation with members was necessary.

When the time arrived, the members assembled in San Francisco -- as many of our small membership that we could gather. For this historical moment, people came from many places. Members from the west coast arrived by automobile. Many from other parts of the country flew to San Francisco. Unfortunately some members who waited from the beginning for this occasion could not afford to fly. Pauline was in Cleveland, Ohio, at the time and couldn't go to San Francisco. When back in Denver after his arrival, I made a tape and sent to her -- a reel to reel tape in those days before the cassette. I told her of those first days of Reverend Moon's arrival. That tape was the basis for this account and in listening to it I realized many of the details of that day were long forgotten.

I arrived in San Francisco, from Denver, late on a Thursday evening. Just a short time before, Col. Pak's party arrived from Washington D.C. There were a number of members at the airport meeting the arrivals. At the airport, Jim and Mary Fleming met me, and I went to their place for the night, if you could call it a night. We talked until 2 A.M., then got up at 4 A.M. to return to the airport for Reverend Moon's arrival.

At the San Francisco airport we found group of 30 or 35 people. Most of the members were from the west coast, along with the ones who flew from the east. David Kim, David Bridges and John Schmedly drove down from Oregon. Col. Pak, Jhoon Rhee and Alexa Altomere flew from Washington D.C. Doris came up from Los Angeles with several members. Carl Rapkins was there from Fresno, and there were a number of local members from San Francisco and Oakland area.

Father arrived at the San Francisco airport at 5:50 A.M., on the 12th of February 1965. The members lined up in a reception line at the door where he was to arrive. We were arranged in a curve around one side of the area. In the room were some people equipped with movie cameras and flood lights while others had regular cameras--I wonder where many of those historical pictures are today? There is one film of his arrival and tour of the United States in 1965 that will be available on DVD sometime in 2006.

Father came through the door and was greeted by his Korean missionaries. He then went along the reception line, Miss Kim introduced each person, and he greeted and shook hands with everyone. He recognized many of the American members from the reports he received from the missionaries in the United States.

As he shook hands with each member, most of us were awe-struck and we probably uttered some unintelligible sound. After him came Mrs. Won Pak Choi, but we were was so overwhelmed by meeting him and staring as he went down the line, we almost missed her.

His arrival wasn't the typical passenger arrival. Father was the first person off of the Japan Airlines plane. The other passengers were held back until he passed through the reception line. Everyone from the plane watched and must have wondered who is this person?

We went into the airline terminal and picked up their baggage, then drove to the Oakland center where breakfast was prepared. After breakfast everyone went into the living room and sat staring at Father, with stupid looks on our faces. Miss Kim kept telling us to say something to him, ask him questions, anything. Then she proceeded to talk with him in Korean, saving us from coming up with something as we all sat there somewhat speechless.

He finally led us in singing, than he sang a couple of songs in Korean. Afterwards he prayed and went upstairs to rest. The time would be late at night Korean time and he was suffering jet lag. We were all tired, having only a couple of hours sleep the night before, however instead of resting we spent the time talking in a typical church tradition. After resting for awhile, he came down for lunch. By now it was after 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Someone planned a typically American activity for him, we went to a boat show at the San Francisco's Cow Palace. Everyone went along, 30 or more people, traipsing along behind him looking at sport boats, yachts and related displays. No one could have dreamed at the time what a part boats would play in his life and his love of the sea. Miss Kim bought Father and everyone ice cream bars at a concession, another typically American activity.

From the boat show we drove through San Francisco, up Dolores St., past Mission Dolores then down Market Street and back over the bay bridge to Oakland. It was getting late in the evening, we ate supper, and then had some free time afterwards. That evening there was a meeting with solid members, new members or the curious were not invited that night. Leon Levi and Louis Lusardi were there -- they were the spiritualist ministers who accepted and strongly supported us, they were grateful for the privilege of coming to the meeting.

Father spoke to us for a while than sang some Korean folk songs, his singing was wonderful, not that his voice is of operatic quality, but the vitality of his singing makes it great. Miss Kim told us that on special occasions he would sing a few songs, then all the rest of the members would have to sing individually, an event we were only somewhat prepared for. Everyone had to sing a song, so most of the evening was spent singing. Standing in front of everyone and singing a solo, is a humbling experience and a great leveler. It tends to put everyone on an equal footing, and in the presence of Reverend Moon even more so. Even those with good voices seem to fall short of their best performance. We left the center fairly late that night. Reverend Moon's use of English was limited at the time. He had been studying for some time with Mrs. Choi, who was an English professor. He read English really well, and one time during a 40 day condition in Korea, he read the Old Testament in English. How many Americans have read the Old Testament, let alone in 40 days and in a foreign language? This visit was his first experience speaking much with Americans and hearing the language in use. He was able to carry on a limited conversation with people, but spoke through an interpreter most of the time.

The next day was Saturday, we left for San Francisco at about 10 A.M. Our destination, Golden Gate Park, where we visited the art museum, aquarium, museum of natural history and the arboretum. These places were toured very quickly, Father took a quick look at everything, spending little time on any one thing. Here again there was and entourage of thirty or so people trying to keep up with him. His pace was incredible, if you stopped to tie a shoe lace you were lost from the group or a building behind.

From Golden Gate park, we went to Fisherman's Wharf for lunch. Reverend Moon and his party went into an Italian restaurant for lunch. He picked several American members to have lunch with his party in the restaurant. The rest of us went to various places on Fisherman's Wharf for lunch.

One place on the tour was the San Francisco Zoo. There he set the same fast pace with the group trying to keep up. Father stopped to watch the seals. Someone bought seal food for him to feed them. The seals enjoyed catching food thrown to them and putting on a show for people.

From the zoo, we went to 1309 Masonic Ave., the former main center for the area and the first property we purchased in the United States. Peter Robinson, his wife Shirley, their three children and Orah Schoon, were living there. The Robinsons were the first black family in the United States to accept the Divine Principle and Reverend Moon. It is significant that the second day he visited the home of the first black members. During those first few days he addressed the racial issue in the United States.

We had a pot-luck dinner, while dinner was being prepared we sat in the meeting room. Father answered members questions and explained details of the Divine Principle. It was an informal and memorable experience before dinner. When dinner was ready we went into the kitchen and brought our dinners to the meeting room. Father prayed, the prayer went something as follows; He prayed about this house was the first center and that we had lived and done much work there. Peter and Shirley Robinson were the first black American members. This was very important and they had a great mission to carry the Divine Principle to their race. If the United States didn't work to overcome the racial injustice in the next few years, that it would loose its blessing and that racial problems were a real mark on the United States.

At the time it would be hard to conceive of the racial turmoil that would later infect the United States. It is also obvious that the old time worn approaches to the problem are failing and that it is apparent the only true solution lies within Reverend Moon's plans. It is significant that the first marriages he held outside of Korea, in February 1969, were to have several racially mixed couples. Since then it has become the standard within the church.

After eating, we returned to the Oakland center. That evening we held a general meeting open to new people and the curious. Father gave a sermon that lasted over an hour with Col. Pak interpreting. This was his first sermon in the United States and we later printed his early speeches.

In his first speech he talked about President Kennedy, with his New Frontier and Johnson with his great society, being a step in the right direction. He also spoke of the importance of the Peace Corps and that the United States had to fulfill through things like this. Although the motives for the New Frontier and the Great Society were correct, as we have seen in recent years, many of the programs failed because, not because the motives were wrong but because of typical bureaucratic bungling, and creeping liberalism.

He also said that if we wanted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven that we must push others in ahead of us -- a concept now understood in the Unification Church. After the sermon he prayed a very powerful prayer in Korean.

After the meeting, he went around and greeted all the new- comers and visitors. Jhoon Rhee gave a Karate exhibition, where he demonstrated his Karate form. He broke a number of boards being held in various positions, one at a height of nearly 7 foot, near the ceiling.

That night, Father stayed up till 3 A.M. watching television. There were a few members in the room with him watching also. Watching television helped him in understanding the language and at that time I don't know how much opportunity there has to watch Television in Korea. This time of night was still day, Korean time.

At 4 A.M., he called a meeting of the Korean members. Later in the morning he called a business meeting with local leaders and announced at this meeting that he wanted to make the national headquarters in Washington D.C. That capital being one of the hubs of world activity. Until this time, each group had been operating independently and were incorporated in their areas. He told them to take the best things from each charter and then combine the groups legally under the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. They were then to select one person from each group as a board member. The board members had to be college graduates.

Sunday afternoon, he held a meeting for members. He presented the bay area group with his flag, a white silk flag with his symbol in the center in red. Jim Fleming received it on behalf of the bay area, it was presented in a black lacquer box. The flag was then hung behind Father's chair.

Later Father gave gifts to everyone present. These gifts were personally selected by him in Korea, ties for the men and silk Korean purses for the ladies. He would look over each person and select the tie or purse he thought suited them. He also had white men's handkerchiefs with his symbol printed in the center in red, with the words "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity" in Korean and English. He gave one of these to everyone. He also presented these gifts at other places as he traveled throughout the country.

After the presentation of gifts, we gave reports on the areas represented. Then we all gave our testimonies, which went on for most of the afternoon.

Sunday evening we had dinner and talked with each other until after dark. Father wanted to go to the Twin Peaks, in San Francisco, and see the lights of the city and the area at night from this highest place in the city. We parked in the parking area, a favorite spot for people viewing the city from their cars. There were others in the parking area, with interests other than the nighttime view of the city.

We went to the top of the peak, about 15 people in all. Mrs. Choi said of Father, "If there is a higher place around, he will climb up to it". He wouldn't be satisfied with anything but the highest. As we assembled on the peak overlooking the lights of the city, there was a cold wind blowing. Father stood on a large rock formation and prayed. One of the members who was clairvoyant received, to open her eyes during his prayer. She said that his aura grew larger and larger until it engulfed the whole group. Then a shaft of light came down to him. She closed her eyes several times and opened them and she could still see all this during his prayer. He told us that night, he would make this Holy Ground, the first of many in the United States. This was a memorable experience for those present.

Leaving Twin Peaks, some of us went to the airport to see Col. Pak off for his return to Washington. As I remember, we all sat at a counter and ate ice cream and sundaes, and Father was eating a huge goopie sundae. Father and the others went back to the Oakland center. Several of us, who were sleeping in nearby Burlingame, stayed at the airport for a long time talking with Col. Pak until his plane departed.

The next day was Monday. Sometime that day Father went to Burlingame to visit Jim and Mary's home. Someone thought we had to much scheduled and asked Father, "wasn't he tired"? His reply was "I was born to be tired".

That afternoon, the remaining members went with Father to twin peaks. We went up the south peak, he thought it might be higher than the north peak but then decided to use the North peak because of God's position being symbolically in the North. He sanctified the South peak and renamed the peaks Parents Peaks, the South being Mother's Peak and the North being Father's Peak. We then went to Father's Peak, where he told us, there was no Holy Ground before his wedding. For his wedding he prepared a large amount of Holy Salt to use for sanctification. They went out near Seoul and made Holy Ground. He told us, making Holy Ground was his main purpose for coming to the United States at this time and that meeting the people was secondary. He was making a physical tie to the Holy Ground in Korea and he was going to make one in each state. These holy grounds act a leavening like yeast in bread, and this is the way the Kingdom of Heaven will be expanded.

He positioned one of us in the four directions, seven paces from the center, representing the four directions of Heaven. The rest of the people were placed at the south. He stood in the center and prayed, then with Holy Salt, he sanctified the area, going to the position each person had been placed in. Then he took some earth, which was brought from the Holy Ground in Korea, and added it to the site, this actually mingled the soil of the two nations. He told us about this occasion "Had you known the importance of this occasion, you would have come here and prayed all night".

Mrs. Choi said that spiritually receptive people would go to the Holy Ground in Korea and bury jewelry and rings because they had received "Lay up your treasures in Heaven". Sometime later, when the hippie movement was in full bloom, they took over our old neighborhood in San Francisco, the Haight Ashbury area. It became the hippie, and drug capital of the world. One time, the hippies had a great "spiritual happening" and they all gathered for a night Father's Peak, which was undoubtedly engulfed in a haze of marijuana smoke.

From the new Holy Ground, we went to the San Francisco city hall. He had me pick up some earth and a few small rocks near the steps of city hall, and hand it to Miss Kim. She then handed it to Father and he put it into a plastic bag to take back to Korea.

For lunch we went to Ott's drive-in, one of first and most famous drive-ins in the country. Now operated by Foster's, Doris and I had both worked at this restaurant on the night shift. We were all sitting in a station wagon, and we ordered hamburgers and cokes while sitting in the car, an old American custom. Father just couldn't understand why Americans would sit in their car and eat.

My flight back to Denver departed later that evening, and it was then about 5 P.M., which gave me about two hours until departure. My suitcase was in Oakland and my airline ticket was in my coat in Burlingame. I said farewell to Father in Ott's drive-in. As their car left, Father kept looking back and waving until the his car disappeared over the hill to the west. This was a scene to be experienced by many in the future that saw him leave in a car, he always looked back and waved till the car was out of sight.

I went nearby and caught a cable car to downtown San Francisco. Some how, with the help of others, I got everything together and made it to my flight back to Denver.


I remember Miss Kim telling the members that we were very fortunate in being able to meet with Father on a personal level. We sat in a room and talked with him, and asked him questions. On occasion members sat at a dinner table with him. She said that later in his mission, as the membership grew, he would become more and more inaccessible to the members. This would be a necessity because of the number of members. In his later years he would be surrounded by an inner circle of disciples and members.

She said that this would become a necessity because of the sheer number of members in the church. It would later become logistically impossible for everyone to meet him personally. The early members who met him personally for a brief time were truly blessed.

We hardly knew what she was talking about, but the day was to come when I understood her perfectly. In the early days of the seminary and Barrytown and the IOWC, it was still possible to sit in a room, and talk with him. Sometimes he would sit on the bank of the Hudson River and talk to a group of members.

I had heard that he was known to sit and trim his toenails while talking to some dignitary. I experienced this in later years when I was taken in to meet with him one time in Kansas City.

In the early days of the movement, members could often sit at a table with him and eat, or ride in a car with him. Today the newer members are lucky to see him at a distance. I have seen them line up for hours to hear him speak. Many newer members go for years, without even a glimpse of him. For many when they see him it is only from the rear of an auditorium or from the far corner of a stadium.

The early members are very fortunate to have these experiences to remember.

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