Moon's U.S. Tour 2001
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder and leader of the Unification Church, will bring his "Standing Together" tour to Billings on March 31. The tour, in which Moon will travel to 50 states in fifty days, started Sunday in New York where 3,500 clergy and followers joined the 81-year-old evangelist who called for national interracial and interreligious harmony and cooperation. The finale will be in Washington, D.C., on April 16.
Moon's appearance in Billings is a public event scheduled for the Holiday Inn Grand Montana, said local Unification Church pastor the Rev. Michael Yakawich.
"This is not just a Unification Church event," Yakawich said. "It is asking for everyone to take a stand against drugs, alcoholism and racism."
Yakawich said prominent Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Pentecostal ministers are joining the tour. He said local clergy are being invited to the event, which will include a buffet and entertainment before Moon's address, which will be delivered in Korean with simultaneous translation.
He said Moon believes that "the faith community must take a leading role in making a better reality for all our citizens. Our churches, temples, mosques remain the most segregated part of our society."
Despite the controversy surrounding Moon's religious beliefs and teachings, many clergy have decided to stand with Moon on the issues of rebuilding the family, restoring the community and renewing the nations, Yakawich said. "This is an ecumenical program, not that far removed from what we've done in the community."
Moon, born in North Korea, spent 2-1/2 years in a communist concentration camp. He was freed by the American invasion at Inchon during the Korean War. He also served time in U.S. federal prison for income tax evasion. He founded the Washington Times newspaper in 1984. Yakawich said the tour "is an incredible ordeal, but Rev. Moon is not worried about his health." Moon recently told followers that he would be retiring soon and wanted to take on the tour for the sake of the United States, Yakawich said.
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon came to the South Side of Chicago Wednesday night on his 50-state tour to promote the restoration of family values and got a family-style welcome from local clergy.
The animated, 81-year-old founder of the Unification Church walked into the filled-to-capacity Life Center Church of God in Christ amid cheers.
He spared neither time nor words, immediately launching into the message of the "We Will Stand" tour, and often pumped his arm in the air for emphasis.
"Unless we have true love relationships between a man and a wife, we cannot have God's love," he said through an interpreter.
Practicing that kind of love, Moon went on to explain, means no divorce or "free sex."
Moon, in a blue suit and sporting a bright yellow tie and red carnation, gazed upon a cross-section of leaders of different denominations, many of them African American. A representative from the Nation of Islam, as well as Baptist and Pentecostal ministers, sat side-by-side at a rally held before Moon spoke at the church.
"Who is the master of America?" Moon asked. "It is neither white Americans or black Americans. The true master of America is the person who loves America as God does."
Life Center Church member Tiffani Neubel, 19, said she didn't agree completely with Moon's message, but his ideas about family were on target. "No matter what church, what nationality, whatever, you come together as a family and let your family come first, peace will come."
The leaders gathered at Life Center Church spent a significant amount of time defending their relationship with Moon, often considered a controversial figure in America. They said they support Moon's message of breaking down racial barriers and his focus on strengthening the family and communities.
"We're not getting caught up in [the] man, we're getting caught up in [his] mission," said the Rev. George Stallings, archbishop of Washington, D.C.'s Imani Temple African American Catholic Church.
The Rev. Connie Crawford Bansa, pastor of the Church of the Living God in Englewood, will be traveling with Moon on the tour.
"Today is the day the family meets to unite under all faiths, all denominations," Bansa said.
The Unification Church, based in South Korea, has been reviled by mainstream religious groups as a cult.
A self-proclaimed Messiah, Moon started the religious movement in 1945 after he said he received a revelation from Jesus Christ.
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