Joining the Church
The following is a chapter excerpt from My Life with Rev. Sun Myung Moon, just published by Rev. David Kasbow.
By David Kasbow
In April 1973, I was 22 years old and in my third year of college at Wayne State University. As I was walking from the Student Center across the mall, a person came up to me. This young man asked, “What do you think about unity?” I said, “It’s great.” That afternoon I was on my way to a theatrical lighting class, a requirement for the minor in theater I was working on. As we walked, we talked about how people can come together. He said his group was having a lecture on this topic back at the Student Center and asked me to come. I told him I was on my way to class, but when he told me more about the people he was with, I got more interested. He had a German accent and explained he was traveling with a group of young people from Europe. Having had a great experience in Europe, I decided to go with him to meet these people and hear what they had to say.
When we got to the Grossberg Religious Center on the third floor of the Student Center, we sat with some other students. A young lady was standing at a chalkboard and began a lecture entitled the “Principles of Creation.” Over the next 45 minutes as she drew diagrams on the chalkboard, she explained God’s ideal for creation. She said that Adam and Eve, our first ancestors, were created to share God’s love as God’s children. They were the first human beings to have eternal souls and were thus the first people with human responsibility. She laid out God’s plan for a good and peaceful world that would have unfolded had Adam and Eve fulfilled their responsibility and not sinned so disastrously. I was intrigued by the ideas she was presenting.
One question after another came out of me, and she answered them all. She was connecting the dots between ideas, concepts, images, and teachings that I had all over my brain. I was indeed in a lighting class but not in the theater department. This was the beginning of my journey.
As our give and take wound down, they invited me to come to their church center to hear more. The next day I drove over for dinner and to hear the next presentation. The church, I found, was a large house on the north side of Detroit on Parkhurst Pl. with a sign on the front saying “Unification Church.” As I came in, others were arriving as well. By the time the preparations for dinner were finished, about 30 members and guests like myself had gathered in a large open living room. We were talking and sharing about our day. Then one young woman tuned her guitar, and we made a circle. They handed me a songbook, and we sang songs. Some I knew and some they told me were written by their members. They concluded by praying for the meal. We sat in groups on the living room floor, the front porch, and the back porch and ate together.
After dinner, I heard a lecture entitled the “Fall of Man” that plausibly described the origin and nature of the evil that undermines our true original nature. From then on I came over during breaks in my classes or on my way home from school. One by one I heard the lectures in the series they called the Divine Principle or the Principle for short. I continued to be enthralled and enlightened. I felt that what I was hearing was true. It was now May 3. At the church center, the lectures were usually given by the group’s team leader or by the leader of the church center. However, the last lecture in the series was given by Leo, the person who had met me. He presented the “Parallels of History.” He drew two parallel lines on the board: one for Judaism and one for Christianity. He then broke down the history of Judaism and Christianity into six segments each and showed the parallels between them. The parallel periods were remarkably close in length and the highlighted events were surprisingly similar, too. I was taking this in step-by-step.
The roughly 400 years that Christianity suffered persecution before it became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 392 A.D. paralleled the 400 years of slavery of the Israelites in Egypt. The 400 years of the church patriarchs paralleled the 400 years of judges in Israel and so on, step by step. The last 400 years of Judaism before the coming of Christ was the period beginning with Malachi. Based on the whole time line, Leo showed that in Christian history, Martin Luther, who emerged in 1517 A.D., was the person who paralleled Malachi.
In the end, he said, from these parallels between Judaism and Christianity, we could expect that since Jesus came 400 years after Malachi, that the time of the second coming would be about 400 years after Martin Luther, somewhere around 1917 (1517 plus 400). This meant, he said, that the coming of the messiah was not something to be waiting for but something that had already occurred. I couldn’t have been ready for this.
I just sat there taking this in. I don’t know why, but my first question was, “Have you met him?” He said, “Yes.” My first thought was, “I am sitting in the same room with someone who has met the messiah.” It was about 4:00 p.m. I closed my eyes and sat there quietly. Tears welled up as the meaning of this sank in and I thought to myself, he is here now, and I am connected to him. A wave of warmth came over me as I experienced the closeness of God.
As I drove home that night, the whole world looked different. I kept pondering. He’s here now. There is a God, and He is moving and working now. He has actually been watching my life, guiding me and this world. These feelings have never left me. To be on the earth at the same time as the messiah is the most incredible thing. It was for me then, and it still is now that I have worked with him all these years
Members of the 172 clergy receiving flowers at the Ulsan Church in Korea in September 2011.
I was the first among my friends to hear the Principle. Because of my minor in drama, I was involved in theater projects in and out of school. Earlier in the year, I had auditioned to be in a play at the Civic Center in Southfield, a suburb of Detroit. It was called The Drunkard: or The Fallen Saved. Later the director decided that he didn’t like this name, so he used only the play’s subtitle, The Fallen Saved.
I was rehearsing this play when I met the church. After I heard the Principle, I started inviting the other cast members over to the center to hear the lectures, too. After we rehearsed, we went out for coffee and talked about the church, its ideas, and the people. On the day the play was performed, the whole traveling group who had met me came to see it. The change in the play’s name seemed especially appropriate. Out of the ten cast members, four of us joined the church; the “fallen saved” we were.
I also invited my best friend, John. He, after all, was the one who had led me to so many interesting books, movies, and ideas. I called him and said, “I found something great. Come over with me to the center.” He didn’t sound excited, but he came. After the first lecture, I asked him what he thought. To my surprise and real shock, he was negative. He said it sounded like a communist group or something. We went out to talk about it, but he just couldn’t get it. At this time he was planning to get married. Maybe he was satisfied with where he was.
I brought my mother, too. She loved it. She talked with the lecturer for what seemed like hours. As a teenager, she had almost decided to become a nun. She had lots of questions about the Catholic Church, spiritual world, saints, ghosts, Mother Mary, and so on. She knew from the beginning this was a good thing for me. My father didn’t care to listen, but he saw that I was happy so he was OK with it. I signed membership in May, moved into the center in June near the end of the semester, and became a full-time member. That June, three of my friends from the play also moved in. Others were joining as well. One by one, we welcomed young men and women. We were a motley crew: in addition to me from Wayne State University and my friends from the theater group, one brother who had been a salesman and one girl who had just graduated from high school joined soon after I did.
We cleaned ourselves up internally and externally. One by one, new members threw away their cigarettes and left their drugs behind. Jon Schuhart, the church center leader, took the brothers, and Sandy, Jon’s wife, took the sisters to get new clothes if they needed them and haircuts as well. A few could not give up their old lifestyles. They stayed for a while and then headed on. As for me, what I had now was way beyond the campus culture I was connected to. It was great to be around good people or at least people who were trying to be good. We had a vision and hope as we began our life in the church together.
Rev. David Kasbow (UTS Class of 1991) is the senior pastor of the Metro Detroit Family Church of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Washington University and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Loyola College in Baltimore, MD. He was born and raised in Detroit and has been married for 25 years to his wife, Shigeko. They have one son, Adam.
Read a review of his book.