The Words of the Tardy Family
Kodiak City Mayor Carolyn Floyd helps cut into a birthday cake in honor of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon whose Unification Church has a considerable presence in the community. Photo courtesy of Jacob Resneck/KMXT
Unificationists in Kodiak, Alaska are enjoying a boost in positive public awareness after respectful coverage of the public birthday celebration of the Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon on Kodiak's Public Radio station, KMXT/NPR. The birthday dinner on Feb. 6, 2011 was attended by Kodiak Mayor Carolyn Floyd as well as local ministers and business owners. KMXT Reporter Jacob Resneck's story tells how a tense relationship with Kodiak residents 30 years ago has given way to acceptance and appreciation after church members have raised families in the community and staffed one of the largest private employers on the island.
The public birthday event brought together Unificationists, community leaders, and friends of the Unification Church. Mayor Floyd as well as the majority of the attendees were non-Unificationists.
"The Unification Church's arrival in Kodiak more than 30 years ago wasn't initially welcomed by some who feared the church's reputation of cultish behavior. Stories of arranged marriages and mass weddings had caused accusations of mind control to be levied against the organization. But it's a different scene today in Kodiak. Members here have become well integrated into this tight-knit community, said Debbie Nielsen, one of several non-members invited to speak," Reporter Resneck says.
"You know, I look at you all and I think about what Kodiak was like back when you first came …and I think, looking around at all the people I know, and what good people they are, that the basis of them coming here was a good idea," said Debbie Nielson.
"The Unification Church has had a presence in Kodiak since opening International Seafoods in 1978. Today the congregation includes about 25 families who own a number of high-profile businesses including the Old Powerhouse Restaurant where about 60-odd members and non-members gathered on February 6, and reflected on the church's 30-plus years in Kodiak," Resneck continues.
One of the goals of the Third Annual birthday event was to thank residents of the city of Kodiak for welcoming Unification Church members into the community, according to Rev. Nelson Mira, Kodiak Unification Church pastor. Mrs. Elke Carros, one of the Unification Church pioneers in Kodiak, gave remarks at the birthday celebration, thanking the community of Kodiak for allowing the Unificationists to overcome trials and difficulties, and expressed her appreciation to those who shared their lives with the Unification Church community.
Three respected city leaders from the Kodiak gave their remarks about the Unification community at the event. All of them expressed their optimistic opinions about Rev. Moon and the Unification Movement in Kodiak. They also shared their very positive experiences working with church members for more than twenty years.
Mayor Floyd of Kodiak joined President Jun Sik Lee, an executive of the International Seafoods of Alaska to cut the celebration cake while Pastor Mira led the crowd in singing the happy birthday song. The highlight of the whole event was the video presentation "A Determined Man: A Portrait of Rev. Sun Myung Moon," which reviewed the Unification Church founders' life course and humanitarian contributions.
"Kodiak has come a long way with city Mayor Carolyn Floyd helping cut the birthday cake as the crowd celebrated Rev. Moon's birthday," said Resneck, adding: "The Unification Church's business holdings are vast and include heavy industry in North and South Korea, real estate holdings in numerous countries and media outlets including the Washington Times newspaper. In Kodiak there are direct ties to at least one hotel, restaurant and International Seafoods, making the church one of the largest private employers in Kodiak."
"This was the third year the True Parents birthday celebration was being held publicly in Kodiak, Alaska," said Pastor Nira following the event. "Each year the number of guests and the quality of the event is improving. These events have a wonderful way to introduce True Parents' hearts to the community of Kodiak, Alaska."
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