2012 marked a pivotal year in the history of the Unification Church when its founder, the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, ascended to the Spirit World on September 3, 2012. Indeed, to some Unificationists, it seemed that the Mayan prediction that 2012 would usher in universal catastrophe rang true, yet for others, the recent changes within the leadership of the church have established a sturdier foundation on which the worldwide Unificationist community can rise to new heights.
International news in 2012 that provoked thought and action amongst church members included the discovery of a fourth-century fragment of papyrus that mentions Jesus’ wife, which some scholars view as a reinforcement of the Unification Church’s belief that Jesus intended to marry and have a family; the elemental devastation of Hurricane Sandy, which distressed Unificationists in the New York- and New Jersey areas but inspired actions of goodwill among those less affected by the storm; and the election of the first female president for South Korea, Geun-Hye Park, on December 19, 2012, which seemed to reinforce Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s recent and consistent message of a new era emerging in which women will have unprecedented influence in politics, economics and culture.
Within the church, Sunday Service transitioned from an event that was nationally-broadcast to locally-produced with the intention of encouraging communities to utilize their respective talents to develop their own worship services. The passing of Rev. Moon was followed by the resignation of Rev. In Jin Moon and the appointment of Rev. Hyung Jin Moon as the new president of Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC) USA, as well as Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon’s re-investment into a revival of the church through religious conditions and Divine Principle seminars.
A New Era of Self Governance
With True Mother’s appointment of Rev. Hyung Jin Moon as the new leader for the United States, a system was developed for the election for District Pastors and the formation of 12 District Councils. The results for the unprecedented set of elections were released on October 25, 2012. 11,627 votes, which were collected through a national online ballot, email and/or fax, were received for 2,318 nominees. Eight nominees who received the highest number of votes in each district were chosen to serve on the District Council and each was contacted to verify his/her acceptance to serve. The nine District Pastors who were re-elected, together with the three new pastors, Andrew Compton for District 2, Henri and Loretta Schauffler for District 1, and Gary Chidester for District 5, were ordained through a foot-washing ceremony in East Garden on November 26, 2012.
True Mother appointed Dr. Michael Balcomb as vice president in September; newly appointed leaders for HSA-UWC USA by Rev. Hyung Jin Moon include Dr. Anthony J. Guerra as executive assistant to the president; Rev. James B. Edgerly as senior advisor; Dr. Michael Jenkins as director of business investments and asset development; and Rev. Eric Holt as chief financial officer. Dr. Chang Shik Yang, former continental director for the Americas, was appointed as international executive vice president of the Unification Church.
After a pilgrimage bus tour of the United States on November 4th, Dr. Hak Ja Han moon visited the Manhattan Center to deliver a message of repentance, rededication and renewal to almost 2,000 members. In following weeks, all employees at HSA-UWC USA Headquarters attended briefing sessions during which Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, his wife, Rev. Yeon Ah Moon, and his advisors conducted a situation analysis of each department. In early November, Rev. Moon stressed the importance of developing a headquarters that would serve Unificationists out in the field, not a headquarters that would dictate what those Unificationists should do.
OSDP Education Reaches 13,000 Faith Leaders
In 2012, Father and Mother Moon asked the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) and HSA-UWC USA to educate 13,000 people of faith in the Original Substance of the Divine Principle (OSDP) in which the Biblical principles on family, marriage the coming of the Lord are taught. Through the leadership of Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, ACLC clergy and Unificationist pastors reached that goal on December 15, 2012.
In late 2011 and early 2012, Rev. Sun Myung Moon asked the 172 clergy who had traveled to Korea in September of 2011 to educate 3,000 faith leaders in the OSDP. In response, clergy of various Protestant churches and Unificationists held small seminars in churches and by August of 2012, reached approximately 4,000 people. According to former chairman of ACLC Rev. Michael Jenkins, when Rev. Moon ascended in September, “there was an outpouring of support from the clergy, and they felt the urgency to respond to Father Moon's last direction to ACLC.” Rev. Hyung Jin Moon approved a proposed plan to fulfill the last 4,000 through two national broadcasts, which took place on December 1, 2012 and December 15, 2012. December 15th marked an important day in the history of OSDP education not only because the goal of reaching 13,000 was achieved and offered to heaven, but also because Rev. Hyung Jin Moon called for a revolution of “absolute sex” and holy love for all humanity. This teaching is creating a “nuclear reaction to prepare us for Foundation Day,” said Rev. Michael Jenkins. “The real meaning of Foundation Day, on which God's marriage will occur, is that we will now enter into a new covenant with God as Blessed Couples, and that the outpouring of joy and love will rapidly expand and the ways of untrue love will decline and dissolve. This is the day from which the Kingdom of Heaven grows without setback.”
That same day, December 15, 2012, a conference was held in New Jersey in an effort to develop materials, such as PowerPoint presentations and lectures that would outline the principles of a Freedom Society and establish steps as to how to build such a society.
New Media Efforts Result in Unprecedented Publicity
The Unification Church in the United States experienced unprecedented media attention in 2011 due to a combined effort of headquarters staff and Unificationists out in the field. Seijin Tranberg’s “Faith, Freedom, and Family Tour,” a cross-country bike trip undertaken in December and completed January 29, 2012 to raise awareness about faith-breaking issues in Japan, was covered by Fox and NBC, as well as other TV stations in Dallas and Santa Fe, New Mexico. In March, HSA-UWC saw fruits to its first official press conference in the New Yorker Hotel when five media attended the broadcast of the Blessing Ceremony in the Manhattan Center, which in turn resulted in positive TV coverage by British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) and Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), and an article by the Religion News Service. Other initiatives within the Public Affairs department included media-training sessions that taught GPA trainees how to write about their overseas service projects in press releases, many of which were ultimately published in local newspapers; challenging a negative story in the University of Pennsylvania’s Daily Pennsylvanian in April and establishing good relationships with the editors; assisting in the making of a positive, one-hour documentary called “Mass Moon Wedding” aired by TLC on the Discovery network; publicizing the 30-year Blessing anniversary on July 1st , which resulted in a positive, two-page spread in Newsday.
MAJOR EVENTS OF 2012
January 1, 2012: More than 700 Unificationists gathered at the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) in Barrytown, NY, to welcome 2012 with food, fanfare and fireworks.
January 8-15, 2012: Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon began the eight-city “National Rallies to Support the True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humankind” in Korea and proclaimed the year 2012 as a “watershed year for the Korean peninsula” to push forward for Korean unification and world peace.
January 8, 2012: Rev. Joshua Cotter, former executive vice-president of Unification Church USA, gave the sermon “The Testimony of the True Family” as part of the Lovin’ Life Ministries’ (LLM) national broadcast.
January 22, 2012: Rev. George Kazakos, local pastor of Los Angeles, gave the sermon “The Five Modalities of Lovin’ Life” as part of the LLM’s national broadcast.
January 23, 2012: The launch of the New Year according to the Cheon-gi heavenly calendar was observed with the 45th True God’s Day ceremony held with Father and Mother Moon in South Korea.
January 27, 2012: The Generation Peace Academy (GPA) choir won the first prize of $10,000 at the Second Unification Church Choir Competition in Cheong Pyeong, South Korea at the Cheon Jung Gung.
January 28, 2012: The “Cheon Bok (Heavenly Blessings) Festive for True Peace and Unity” concluded with a multi-cultural festival at the Cheon Bok Gung and various musical performances celebrated True Parents’ Holy Birth and True Mother’s Gohui (70th birthday) Luncheon in the main hall of the Cheong Pyeong Heaven and Earth Training Center.
January 30, 2012: John Seijin Tranberg and Joshua Wildman completed the “Faith, Freedom and Family Ride,” a 2,300-mile bike tour across the United States to raise awareness about religious intolerance.
February 6, 2012: Heather Thalheimer, former director of education, gave the sermon “How to Love as God Intended” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
February 6-13, 2012: Trainees of Generation Peace Academy (GPA) traveled to Japan to visit local Unificationist churches and participate in relief work to clean up damages caused by the 2011 Tohoku tsunami and earthquake.
February 11, 2012: The Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea performed in Las Vegas, the last stop of its 22-nation Korean War 60th Anniversary World Peace Tour, for 3,000 distinguished guests and the founders of the Little Angels, Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon.
February 12, 2012: Rev. Bruce Grodner, former district pastor of District 2, gave the sermon “Substantiating the Kingdom of Heaven through Unity” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
February 15, 2012: LLM launched its first national and public website.
February 19, 2012: Rev. Kevin Thomspon, district pastor of District 11, gave the sermon “Speaking God’s Language of Heart” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
March 4, 2012: Rev. Joshua Cotter gave the sermon “The Messiah Comes to Bring Living Water” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
March 4-13, 2012: Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon hosted an event on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) in Daejeon, Korea and then, for the first time in five years, traveled to Japan and embarked on a seven-day speaking tour.
March 11, 2012: Rev. Carl Swearson, district pastor of District 8, gave the sermon “The Power of Forgiveness” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
March 12, 2012: The Unification Church USA held its first professional press conference since the beginning of LLM in 2009 on the topic “Why Arranged Marriages Work,” at the New Yorker Hotel.
March 18, 2012: Rev. Mark Hernandez, district pastor of District 9, gave the sermon “Ideality: Loving Life through Bringing Our Ideals into Reality” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
March 23, 2012: Approximately 30 television media and wire services, including the FOX News, BBC, Reuters and the British-based Independent Television News covered the Unification Church Marriage Blessing of 2,500 couples in Gapyeong, Korea and its international satellite-wedding events, including eight locations in the United States.
March 25, 2012: Rev. Richard Buessing, district pastor of District 4, gave the sermon “Sharing God’s Love with Others” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
April 1, 2012: National Youth Pastor Jaga Gavin gave the sermon “The Path” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
April 8, 2012: Rev. Joshua Cotter gave the sermon “Dreaming the Impossible Dream” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
April 13, 2012: LLM leaders convened at a three-day conference titled “Lead with Impact” at the New Yorker Hotel in New York City that featured the best practices for expanding the church, an innovative curriculum for new members, guidance on communication and media relations, etc.
April 15, 2012: Rev. Kazuo Takami, district pastor of District 7, gave the sermon “The Road: Walking a Path Together” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
April 22, 2012: Rev. Tom Cutts, former district pastor of District 5, gave the sermon “Prayer Changes Things” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
April 29, 2012: Rev. Larry Krishnek, district pastor of District 10, gave the sermon “Liberating True Parents Through Love” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
May 4, 2012: A month-long dispute between University of Pennsylvania’s The Daily Pennsylvanian (DP) and the Unification Church USA, triggered by the DP’s publication of a feature article that slandered the church, came to harmonious resolution after an hour-long meeting between Unificationists and their allies and the newspaper’s editors.
May 6, 2012: Rev. Mike Lamson, district pastor of District 6, gave the sermon “Remembering Our Prodigals” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
May 11, 2012: The Daily Pennsylvanian published a fair and well-researched article titled “Creating a New Generation of the Unification Church” after visiting the local Unificationist Philadelphia pastors Crescentia and Leighton DeGoede and attending church service.
May 13, 2012: Rev. In Jin Moon appeared at the pulpit for the first time in three months and celebrated Mother’s Day in Washington, D.C. at the Marriot Crystal Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia.
May 20, 2012: Rev. Mark Tengan, district pastor of District 12, gave the sermon “Live in the Moment” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
May 27, 2012: Rev. Randy Francis, former district pastor of District 1, gave the sermon “Heartistic Attendance while Following Our Passion” as part of LLM’s national broadcast.
June 4, 2012: UC Magazine, a remake of the Unification News newspaper founded in 1982 by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, launched its first and long-awaited issue.
June 5, 2012: The Unification Church USA officially launched its public website, Unificationews.com.
June 19-24, 2012: More than 80 young Unificationists gathered for the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) America’s first retreat, “Live Life on Purpose,” at the Angeles Crest Christian Camp in La Canada, CA.
July 1, 2012: More than 300 of the 8,000 couples joined in marriage by Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon in 1982 celebrated their 30th Anniversary at the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom. 200 or so couples gathered on the sidewalk opposite Madison Square Garden for a historic “unison kiss” photo shoot.
July 4, 2012: More than 300 Unificationists celebrated as one family for Independence Day during the fourth annual July Fourth Party at the Manhattan Center and the New Yorker Hotel.
July 8, 2012: At 10 p.m. (9:00 p.m. Central), the TLC Network aired the documentary Mass Moon Wedding, which was dubbed Married to the Moonies until Unificationist leaders and ACLC ministers sent letters of concern to TLC management, protesting the use of the word “Moonies.”
July 2, 2012: Kook Jin Moon, chairman of the Tongil Foundation, addressed the global threat posed by China among parliamentarians and defense experts in Europe.
July 2012: Unificationists and their allies in more than a dozen states celebrated the federally designated “Parents’ Day,” which was created in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, drawing much newspaper- and TV coverage.
July 16, 2012: Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon established an international consultative body titled the “Abel Women’s United Nations” during the inauguration assembly hosted by Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI) in the Cheongshim Peace World Center in South Korea.
August 1, 2012: At a briefing in the U.S. Capitol, Rev. In Jin Moon, U.S. Congressman Danny Davis of Chicago, and a distinguished panel of human-rights experts called for the U.S. State Department to commence talks with the government of Japan on the issue of religious persecution of minority religions in Japan.
August 1, 2012: Kook Jin Moon completed an eight-city “Freedom Society” speaking tour during which he shared his philosophy of the Kingdom of Heaven in Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX, Atlanta, GA, Washington, D.C., and New York, NY.
August 2012: LLM’s five-week summer day camp concluded its second yearly session with a record number of 68 participants at the Harriman State Park in the Rockland- and Orange Counties of New York, a location also known as “Camp Sunrise.”
August 8-12, 2012: The seventh annual Blessed Culture and Sports Festival (BCSF) at UTS, the largest in the history of the event, drew more than 50 sports teams and included new cultural events such as the CARP game show. More than 500 people were present for the entire five days, with that number swelling to more than 1,000 that Sunday for LLM.
August 13, 2012: Rev. Sun Myung Moon, 93, was hospitalized at St. Mary’s Hospital in Seoul for severe pneumonia.
August 19, 2012: Unificationists in Washington, D.C. reached out to the local community with the International Summer Fest at Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Maryland
August 21, 2012: Rev. In Jin Moon began a national speaking tour titled “We Love True Parents” to extend her thanks on behalf of her family to those who have undertaken prayer vigils, fasting conditions and other forms of spiritual dedication to support the recovery of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
August 26, 2012: 50 or so families celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 30,000-couples Blessing in 1992 and the 17th anniversary of the 360,000-couples Blessing in 1995 in the Hammerstein Ballroom of the Manhattan Center on August 26, 2012.
September 3, 2012: Rev. Moon ascended to the Spirit World.
September 7, 2012: The Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK conferred the National Reunification Prize upon the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, the successor to his father’s position as head of a global church, met with North Korean Officials and Rev. Moon’s elderly relatives at the church’s complex in Pyongyang.
September 15, 2012: The “Seonghwa” (Memorial and Ascension) Ceremony of Rev. Sun Myung Moon was held at the Cheongshim Peace World Center in Cheongpyeong, at 10 a.m. More than 35,000 mourners paid their respects in person, including former heads of state and other international VIPs and leading figures from home and abroad. About 15,000 overseas representatives from 85 nations were in attendance, mainly from Japan and the United States of America. Unificationist congregations around the world tuned into the broadcast of this ceremony to pay their respects.
September 9, 2012: The “Interfaith Concert – The Reunion of Abrahamic Family” in Brooklyn, NY, sponsored by ACLC and the Unification Church, recognized first responders of 9/11, attracting New York politicians and local clergy from Christian, Muslim, Unificationist and Rastafarian faiths.
September 12-23, 2012: GPA’s class of 2012-2013 saw a record number of GPA first-years for the third year in a row, and the entire class undertook a pilgrimage of significant sites in South Korea that have been impacted by Rev. Moon during his life.
September-October 2012: Rev. Hyung Jin Moon and Rev. Yeon Ah Moon toured the nation to hold “Town Hall” meetings, beginning in Washington, D.C. and ending with GPA trainees in East Garden.
October 2, 2012: Rev. Hyung Jin Moon invoked vision of the founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, at the Washington Times 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.
October 25-27, 2012: “The Turning Point,” Women’s Federation for World Peace’s 20th Anniversary Assembly, took place at the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas. The keynote address at the event was delivered by Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon on October 27, 2012.
November 4, 2012: The Unification Church in Korea launched a “Divine Principle Revival Campaign” that consists of three 40-day campaigns leading up to Foundation Day.
November 4, 2012: After a pilgrimage bus tour of the United States that covered 2,700 miles in one week, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon called for repentance and rededication at the Manhattan Center.
November 11, 2012: Dr. Michael Balcomb delivered his first sermon, entitled “After the Storm,” at the Learning Center, launching his 12-week tour of Unificationist communities in the United States. His last sermon is scheduled for January 27, 2013.
November 20, 2012: Rev. Hyung Jin Moon and Rev. Yeon Ah Moon invited departmental leaders from Headquarters to visit the East Garden church complex in Irvington, New York, in what was the first of many departmental meetings there.
November 26, 2012: Rev. Hyung Jin Moon and Rev. Yeon Ah Choi ordained the 12 newly-elected District Pastors at an unprecedented foot-washing ceremony at East Garden.
November 2012: Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon founded the Universal Peace Academy, which will train its first class of young Unificationists to become leaders within the church in 2013.
December 1 and 15, 2012: Original Substance of the Divine Principle (OSDP) was broadcast nationwide to approximately 100 locations, and the goal set by Rev. Sun Myung Moon of educating 13,000 faith leaders by 2012 was reached.
December 15, 2012: Thirty-three leaders from New Jersey and tuning in from several other states through Skype came together at the Unification Church Center in Clifton, New Jersey on December 15, 2012 to discuss the concept of the “Freedom Society.”
December 15, 2012: The Unificationist community in Ohio hosted the first locally-organized and nationally attended Christmas gala at the Grand Valley Dale Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio on December 15, 2012.
December 29, 2012: Hundreds of Christian pastors and evangelists joined Unificationists at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church on Chicago’s west side to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon at the 17th True Family Values Banquet.