Unification News for April 2001
March 24 - Mobile, Alabama
The azaleas were in full bloom as the national "We Will Stand Tour" mobilized Mobile, Alabama with its message of hope and reconciliation. The Saturday evening program was held at the Arthur Outlaw Mobile Convention center. Dr. Wesley James from the Franklin Street Baptist Church gave the invocation.
The Honorable George Callahan, Alabama State Senator read a proclamation signed by Governor Don Siegelman commending Father Moon for his work and commemorating March 24th as "Stand Together America" Day.
He asked everyone to pray for the people in government.
Letters of welcome and congratulations from U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, U.S. Congressman Sonny Callahan, U.S. Congressman Earl Hilliard, Lt. Governor Steve Windom, along with those of several other state legislators were read as well.
The Honorable Fred Richardson, a member of the Mobile City Council read a proclamation by Mobile Mayor, Mike Dow. Clinton Johnson, Mobile's city council president, presented Father Moon with a key to the city.
The city of Bayou La Batre presented Father Moon and Mother Moon with a plaque thanking them for their "generosity and commitment to the Bayou La Batre community." This was quite remarkable considering the resistance that his Unification movement had faced when they first began building a seafood and ship building business there 24 years ago.
The Hon. Donzella James, Georgia State Senator who had spoken at the tour's last three stops, said she's been criticized by some in the black community for her association with Father Moon, but James, a devout Catholic and Democrat, said the message simply speaks to the problems of today's families. "In Britain, they have mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease," she said. "Here we have mad child disease and foot-in-mouth disease with our children."
Rev. Leroy Elliot and Rev. Jesse Edwards made short but very powerful remarks about their experiences on the trail so far. With but two minutes each they got the crowd shouting "Halleluja" and "Amen".
Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker from the New Canaan Baptist Church, Harlem, New York, and a longtime activist, reminded everyone that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s efforts started in Birmingham, Alabama.
He shared a story about two school girls, one black and one white. They were such good friends that they were called twins.
A second story recalled a young white girl who was killed in a riot. Her mother had a remarkable attitude. Upon learning in the hospital that her daughter had died, she said her organs must be donated because that is what her daughter wanted. The young girl's heart was given to an elderly black Methodist minister. The mother found out who received her daughter's heart and visited him. It was a precious moment for both when she asked him if she could put her ear on his chest and listen to the heartbeat.
A coalition of Muslims from throughout the state gathered and sat together in front of Father Moon for the entire event. This included ministers of the Nation of Islam (NOI) from Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, Huntsville, Pensacola, Florida and Gautier, Mississippi. The American Muslim movement was also represented by Imam Kamal Saleem, Imam Ron Ali (from the Mobile Masjid of Al-Islam) and Imam Matthew Abdullah (Prichard Masjid). These different Muslim groups have come together and have started having dialogue based on the tenets of Islam and their love and respect for Father Moon. Assistant Minister Fred Muhammad of Mobile remarked, "Father Moon is a true parent to mankind. His truth is God's universal truth for all people."
Bishops from the Apostolic, Pentecostal and Holiness denominations, including Bishop George Craig form Tuscaloosa, Bishop Frank Kirkwood from Birmingham and Bishop Cornelius Woods from Mobile were present. Father Viscardi, a Catholic priest and professor of religion at Springhill College, represented the Catholic Church.
The pre-program featured the locally famous Mobile United Voices Choir, who brought the Holy Spirit immediately. The True Light Praise Steppers & Dancers (a group of young people) performed likewise.
Reverend Jesse Edwards and Reverend Leroy Elliott lifted up the spirit with their words of hope and praise.
Evangelist Loretta Handy (who sang with Otis Redding before she was "saved") led an interfaith choir in her original song, "The World We Share".
Reverend Michael Jenkins then introduced Father Moon after the showing of a brief biographical video.
In his speech to the more than 800 people assembled, he mentioned the old conflict in which the tiny town of Bayou la Batre had attempted to keep out the Unification Church which some local and state officials had dubbed a cult.
"Some 20 years ago, there was protest of my presence here," Father Moon said through Mr. Peter Kim, his interpreter. "I wonder if there's anyone here who participated in that?" Laughter filled the room. Father Moon scanned the room for raised hands, but he found none.
"It's OK! You're forgiven!" he said, waving his hand across the audience. "The past is past."
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