Family Federation Is Not a Church

By Eugene Harnett

Four years ago, in October 2013, then-President Dr. Michael Balcomb circulated a “National Charter” for the Family Federation for World Peace USA, which was adopted. It set forth the structure for Local Family churches as well as purposes and policies for Districts and the National Council of FFWPU.

The Family Federation’s National Charter in America currently is written using sectarian language. It refers to local bodies as “churches” and local leaders as “pastors.” Thus, it gives definition to our national movement, leaders and members, and provides direction for who we are and how we operate. Without saying so outright, by default it affirms the Family Federation is a church.

Our organization’s mission is broad. The language it uses to define its functions and bind its members must also be broad and inclusive to reach out to the family of humankind in a welcoming manner. However, we use language that shapes us as a church in the pattern of Christianity, putting us in a sectarian box and making it difficult to act and grow beyond our sectarian nature.

Being defined as a church is a hindrance to the development of our family movement in America. It was appropriate for a time in history when we had to restore Christianity’s failure. That time has passed. In our founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s words, “The reason I brought an end to our ‘church’ and established the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification is because the time had come to focus on the family.” (Pyeong Hwa Gyeong, p. 1103)

Further, he stated, “The time for me to lead the Unification Church has passed. Now is the time for horizontal expansion.” (Cheon Seong Gyeong, 9.1.3.22) We may understand this to mean that the vertical responsibility of faith has been secured by the Unification Church and the Family Federation has a different mission to express the love of God in the world.

In 1993, Father Moon officially changed the name of the Unification Church to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. But the church nomenclature persisted. Thus, Mother Moon before Foundation Day reemphasized this prior change: “I am changing the name of the Unification Church to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.” (Cheon Seong Gyeong, 12.4.3.38)

It is time to amend our National Charter to be in alignment with True Parent’s vision for the Unification movement, not to form a church but to establish one Family under God.

This proposed amendment to our National Charter removes the sectarian language of “church” and rewrites it in non-sectarian terms. First of all, it does not mean we become less spiritual or religious, nor that we stop teaching Divine Principle. It does not mean all Sunday services have to go. We are not talking about changing who we are but, instead, how we refer to ourselves.

We identify with being a church; that is acknowledged. This amendment runs against that grain. Father Moon said, “It is difficult to break a habit.” (Cheon Seong Gyeong, 7.3.2.31) We habitually, even colloquially, call ourselves a church. It then becomes important to take a critical look at that habit. Even after True Father established us as the Family Federation in 1993, he continued to call us “church” himself.

But did he literally refer to us as a church? Or did he mean kyo-hoi in its original meaning as he stated in his autobiography:

“I do not like using the word kyo-hoi in its common usage to mean church. But I like its meaning from the original Chinese characters. Kyo means “to teach,” and hoi means “gathering.” The Korean word means, literally, “gathering for teaching.” …When the word church means a gathering where spiritual fundamentals are taught, it has a good meaning. But the meaning of the word kyo-hoi does not provide any reason for people to share with each other. People in general do not use the word kyo-hoi with that meaning. I did not want to place ourselves in this separatist type of category. My hope was for the rise of a church without a denomination.” (As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, pp. 120-21)

Though we do not call ourselves the “Unification Church” any longer, we still refer to ourselves as a church. Sometimes we say we are the “Family Church,” for example. Local Family Federation chapters may have adopted other names for themselves, yet our National Charter still refers to these local organizations as “churches.”

When non-members, new members, and old members are asked their religious affiliation, it has become “Unificationism.” Thus, we subtly have adopted a Christian denominational marker or the nomenclature of a denomination. It’s natural for people to want to know what to call us. And we ourselves habitually and now comfortably refer to ourselves as a church.

If that is the direction our Family Federation leadership wants to take, then it needs to be clearly thought out. As we grow, we may have to shake the term at a later time; or let others continue to define us, as they did originally, calling us the Unification Church. Remember though, that was not the name Father Moon wanted us to be known as.

“The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity means an association, not a church. You must understand this clearly.” (God’s Will and the World, p. 563)

“The world has come to call us the Unification Church in place of our full name.” (Pyeong Hwa Gyeong, pp. 266-67)

“My goal was never to build a church.” (Pyeong Hwa Gyeong, p. 1064)

The world will define us as a church or a denomination, and may even point to our National Charter to affirm it. If it is not True Parent’s intention to be known as founders of a church, then we need to start looking at how we may be inadvertently attaching that sectarian view to ourselves and True Parents.

The purpose of this charter amendment is not to just start the conversation on this topic but to invigorate our members to think bigger. Many early members joined when we were not called a church in America. They joined what was then called the “Unified Family.” They called themselves “Family members.” This term is immediately welcoming to all people, whether they belong to another church or not.

The Family Federation has a larger purpose than creating a church. True Parents have constantly urged us out of the church box to influence the entire society. It is more becoming of the Family Federation to be a broad organization, one that welcomes, supports and advocates for families in the world. Of course, we can continue to teach the principles of family life and the original design by which God created us. We can still teach about the Fall, Restoration, Christology, about all of Divine Principle, and the Blessing. We do not have to stop or change this aspect of education if we remove the vestige of the church nomenclature.

The idea that the Family Federation can be a hub of training and social involvement is central to who we are. This is our strong point. As a family-centric, social activist organization, our acceptance in the world will be more thorough than any church can ever be, even the Mormon Church or Catholic Church. They still retain their religious litmus test to be members. We should not have a religious litmus test for membership.

We need to find ways to bring our religious path into oneness with the secular path. The terminology of church confines us. Our message is one of unity or unification. How can we do that with the nomenclature of “church” on the doorposts of our members? As Rev. Moon stated in his autobiography:

“As soon as a person hangs a sign that says “church,” he is making a distinction between church and not church. Taking something that is one and dividing it into two is not right. This was not my dream. It is not the path I chose to travel. If I need to take down that sign to save the nation or the world, I am ready to do so at any time.” (pp. 120-21)

This may be why a breakdown in our church movement is occurring. It is not about members refusing to be members of the Family, but that members don’t sense the organization represents them anymore. Good members do not skip Sunday Services because they dislike us; they skip services because they didn’t join a church to begin with.

The Inaugural World Convention of the Family Federation for World Peace (FFWP) held in Washington, DC  July 30 – August 1, 1996.

The Home Church providence and Tribal Messiah providence is where members may feel more aligned. Each one has their area of expertise, their area of influence, where they feel most comfortable. Shall we give them reasons to stay connected to the Family Federation because the Family Federation is truly beyond the church level, welcoming all people without imposing religious doctrines? Or shall we give them excuses to stay disassociated because we act like another denominational church?

It is an eventuality, then, that if our organization tries to be like a Christian type of church, it will fade away. It is not about disunity, failure to love True Parents or rebellion. It is the natural course of events, especially considering Father’s many words on the topic. And it is a good thing. We who remain loyal to the Family Federation, even as it exists as a church body, must applaud the many brothers and sisters who have decided to distance themselves from this quasi-church of ours. We must also give them a reason to participate with us anew in a dynamic way.

The saying goes, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.” If we act like a church, talk in church language, and refer to ourselves as a church, then no matter how much we say we are trans-denominational and universal in our appeal, we will still be a church in the minds of many people. This is an old habit that will not fall away easily.

If this message strikes a chord within you, you already resonate with many members of the Family Federation who feel the same. No doubt the proposed amendment to modify the language of our National Charter will invoke a nod of agreement from many Family Members.

By removing the sectarian language in our national charter, we will more accurately define the role of Family Federation members and leaders – which is a broad role, not defined solely by sectarian purposes – to be aligned with the vision of building one huge family of humankind under God. We will be an organization that attracts people of all faiths, not just Christians. And we will be welcomed by all society as a beneficial, family-centric force, not just a religious sect.

Here are reasons to change the language of our National Charter:

  1. The term “church” has connotations. It refers only to religious denominational groups. Though Father colloquially often referred to us as “church,” his definition could more be in line with the original intent of the word kyo-hoi, which means a place of gathering and teaching.
  2. It makes us compete with other churches. Members of other churches include the good people we want to recruit; however, they do not necessarily look to join another church. We cannot and should not be trying to get them to leave their church to join ours. Secondly, by holding meeting times on Sunday, it makes our work of gathering God’s children into a competition with other churches.
  3. The term “church” divides. In Father’s autobiography, he explains that using the term “church” immediately divides people between church and non-church people.
  4. HSA-UWC is an association for uniting Christianity, not another church denomination.
  5. Father ended the Unification Church in 1996.
  6. Mother removed our Unification Church name in 2013.
  7. Church requires religious adherence and worship. Family is built upon love and attendance beyond any religious belief system. Unification Family members are religious in that we love God, love others and understand religious practice. It has special meaning to us, since we’ve practiced it so much in our movement until now. To say its time has gone is not simple.
  8. Church is about worship. If you are a church in America, you are expected to lead worship services on Sunday. If we are a “church,” then that’s what’s expected. Yet, Father didn’t emphasize worship of God, but understanding the heart of God. That is so different. We relate better as Family members without focusing on worship of God.
  9. Church cannot unite Muslims, Buddhists, Baha’is. In 30 years, studies predict the world Muslim population will exceed the Christian population. How well do Muslims welcome churches? If we are to influence the Islamic world, we will have a much better avenue through a family-centric than a church organization.
  10. Family is universal and accepting of all. The divisions of the world do not exist in a family.
  11. Family members did not join a church when they originally joined. We joined The Family.
  12. Family will broaden our community appeal. The Family Federation by name has no opposition, no religious test, no political purpose, no divisive nature. In reality, it can be as welcomed and receptive in the community as any non-sectarian organization, like a Rotary Club or Lions Club.
  13. “Pastor” is a Christian term and has connotations. Currently, a local leader is named specifically the “pastor.” Pastor is restrictive in recruiting new leaders, who may have leadership qualities or drive but not necessarily see themselves as pastoring.
  14. Church-type activities and worship services can continue for those who want it. Not everybody wants Sunday Service, but old customs exist and some people enjoy traditional services. Those things do not have to be discarded, yet they don’t have to be the main meeting of the week.
  15. Family activities for learning and fellowship can be more diverse. Father encouraged the formation of hobby and special interest groups, like the “Hiking Federation” or “Sport Fishing Association.” These types of ministries (another term that carries church connotations) can include family-friendly, community gathering activities. Father encouraged reading even a short Hoon Dok Hae before those gatherings. They can be used to help teach Divine Principle as well.♦

Eugene Harnett currently serves on the FFWPU National Council representing the Northwest Region. He is a business owner in Alaska, father of five boys, and active in the local Family Federation in Anchorage.

35 thoughts on “Family Federation Is Not a Church

  1. Thank you, Mr. Harnett. I am looking forward to your next article that reconciles the National Charter Purposes and the position statement that the Family Federation is not a church.

  2. Lots of “ifs” and “ands” there, but the self reference point surely requires much reflection. Could semantics — “language and symbols” (for some that is all this is) — be the key after all? Historically, associations and groups (religions, too) have ever struggled with simply being accepted, while concurrently remaining relevant, both within and without (much less actually — grow). Definitions (and defining activities) across borders are a constant challenge to both religious and personal freedoms — speaking legally or colloquially. Hence, the charter (and constant change, dialogue, etc.) matters. Thank you for your dedication and example.

  3. This is a very good article. There are also other aspects that need new wording — for instance, like the expression “absolute sex,” which sounds very hard and crude in Western culture. “Absolute sexual morality” or “absolute sexual ethics” is better, I think. I know that in the Korean language the term came out that way, but in translations we must be culturally very wise and sensitive.

  4. The identity crisis lingers on, 20 years later. Meanwhile, in Korea they are trying to make the FFWPU a non-Christian national religion…

  5. Well said, Mr. Harnett.

    However, we still need to face the fact that: 1) We are called to “witness” and “tell everyone about True Parents,” 2) teach the DP, create Blessings (a ministry, if you will) and, 3) create a track for new members and Blessed Couples to grow spiritually. Furthermore, the care and support of Blessed Families, the education of their children, and more are needed. Finally, committed Blessed families and single individuals aspiring to the Blessing need a community to which to connect. Sunday morning services have worked well in that regard, including Sunday School for children.

    These activities are normally the activities of a church or religious body. But we are revolutionaries, so perhaps we need new terminology. But the fact remains that there are many activities that we need to organize and execute that have heretofore been undertaken by churches. What shall we call all of that?

  6. Thank you, Eugene! I struggle every Sunday going to church because it seems that is all we do. I joined a movement, called a family. We went to hear Father speak at Belvedere on Sundays and other holy days. It wasn’t going to church. It was an experience, and could have fallen into the category of education. Eventually we did develop Sunday Services, but that was just one of the things we did. We used to be a movement that did many things, one of them being Sunday Service. Now we seem to be a church that tries to do a few other things. We don’t need to be a church to teach DP — in Las Vegas that’s done at the IPEC, the International Peace Education Center, not at a “church.” I agree we need “pastors” or such to officiate at Blessings and Seong Hwa ceremonies, but again, that shouldn’t be all we do. And indeed we are not an interfaith organization if we call ourselves a church, but rather a denomination of Christianity.

    • I believe that we have to fight “struggling to go to Church”, because often that may mean we don’t want to meet or serve brothers and sisters, whatever name is given to the group. It is true that the name “church” may not attract Muslims or Hindus.

  7. It’s an excellent article. As the saying goes, “Old habits die hard.” I have one main concern: when members, brothers and sisters, withdraw from a church community service, they don’t tend to be motivated by a high motivation to live out their ideals on a higher level. They also don’t usually give a reason for dropping out, if that is the right word. They just stop going to Sunday Service for whatever reason. I suppose this applies more to a smaller community as the regular attendees notice the missing brothers and sisters. I guess if we missed each other more we would find other ways of meeting up, as Eugene suggested. The problem often is that most people are working, studying, busy with family duties during the week and only have spare time and space in their mind on the weekend, especially on a Sunday.

  8. These are all good observations and questions about the nature of Unificationist identity. One question for me is whether HSA-UWC needs to more broadly include all the things members are doing, or whether more organizations should be supported independently by members. In the 1980s, we had a joke, “Where there are two rabbis, you have three opinions; where there are two Unificationists you have three organizations.” We had ICUS, PWPA, IRFWP, the New York City Symphony, Atlantic Video, the Washington Times, the University of Bridgeport, the New World Encyclopedia, ICUSA, ACLC, CAUSA, WUFED, and a whole lot more acronyms that many who were even members in the 1980s may not recognize.

    One of my concerns is that while True Father either founded or supported all of these activities, the church did not — unless he ordered UCI to pay for them. Of its own volition, the church only primarily supported church-related activities: recruitment of members, ACLC activities for Christian ministers (which fits with the mission of HSA-UWC), and UTS, which trains church leaders. Church support for other activities I have been involved with, like PWPA and the University of Bridgeport, was cut off quickly when True Father no longer pushed church leaders to support them. Most of these peripheral organizations, which represent all aspects of a wider society, were left to continue on their own or die. As the Secretary-General of PWPA, I received a few donations from individual members who supported its academic activities, but for nearly two decades until True Mother recently remembered PWPA and ICUS, no church support was received. Last year ICUS XXIII was held in Korea, the first since 2000.

    A big question is whether support for these broader activities would be part of the change Eugene is suggesting and whether HSA-UWC is even capable of supporting all kinds of activities all over the world. Or, should the church continue to nourish a spiritual core centered on the Divine Principle and churches or community centers raise members and worship together? In that case, perhaps members who mature to become “true parents” or “small Sun Myung Moons” should support such activities in their local communities and their countries from their own resources if they want to be like True Parents. For certainly, as Rev. Moon said, he did not come to found a church, but the church he created became a vehicle for the accomplishment of the things he came to do.

  9. Thank you very much, Eugene, for writing this well-written and researched article. You have clearly expressed my mind and heart.

    Outreach is my central, top of the list, weekly activity. So, this is an important issue to me. I cannot even imagine inviting my guests into a “church.” I do not belong to a church. A church “divides.” When people ask us -– my outreach partner and I — which church do you belong to, we respond that we do not belong to any church. The Purity Revolution –- our outreach name –- is an organization that brings together families from all different religions, backgrounds and races. We believe that there is one God and that we are one big family under God; that we are all brothers and sisters.

    Recently we were asked to vote for a new name for our local FFWPU. Although the new leadership is clear that we are the FFWPU of Ohio, they still wanted/decided to keep the word “church” as the main name. When I asked them why, they said that the Family Federation for World Peace of Ohio is a mouth full and that using the word “church” comes from HQ.

    Here is what I wrote into the comment section of the survey asking us to choose our new name –- giving us only two choices, both of which had the word “church” in it:

    “I was hoping we would get away from the word ‘church,’ and here is why: I don’t think that the word ‘church’ is helping our cause of bringing churches, religions, and other people out there, into one big family under God. We are a movement, a Federation of Families. When we use the word “church,” we build a wall between our movement and churches — as well as other religions — by being one more Christian denominations out there. But we are not one out of many. We are different. We are taking people into the Completed Testament Age and into Cheon Il Guk. In one of his speeches, True Father said that the name ‘Unification Church’ was given to us by others. It is my understanding that he didn’t like it. After True Father passed, if I understood the reports well, True Mother asked that we go back to the FFWPU. It’s a mouthful, but it is a beautiful name. What about Ohio Family Federation for World Peace and Unification?”

    Your article is an answer to a prayer I clearly formulated recently (I prayed that someone who writes well will bring up this issue). Today, I pray that this issue be seriously and prayfully resolved at USA National HQ.

  10. Wow, brother Eugene! You definitely speak my mind and I fully agree with you. I am not a Unification Church member, I am a Family Federation member. I honestly feel awkward when I am referred to as a pastor because I am not Christian, even though I love Jesus. I was born and raised Muslim and joined the Unification movement. I did not join a church.

    • Drissa, yes I agree with you too. However, whatever name you give our movement, people who don’t want to go to meetings, serve others or do Jeonseong will have it hard no matter what name the group has.

    • Dr. Kone,

      When I met the Unification Church, I was immersed in humanistic college courses but originally coming from a confirmed Episcopalian Christian background. Once I studied Divine Principle and became a member of the UC, I no longer referred to myself as Episcopalian, since I identify with being a Unificationist. Most definitely, I joined a church that had a broader movement of different projects, such as CAUSA, IRRF, IEF, AFC, Project Hope, UTS, New World Forum, etc.

      So, it is one thing to say you come from a specific background and upbringing, but who you are now at this moment is important to be authentic about. I would not be a Unificationist Pastor and then say that I am Episcopalian, nor would I proselytize for others to be Episcopalian, nor to approve of the objectionable elements of the mainstream Episcopal Church which happens to support gay marriage and gay bishops leading their flock.

      Since Unificationism is an outgrowth and improvement on Christianity that embraces world religions, I can say that I am a Unificationist Christian and when appropriate, I identify myself as an Interfaith Chaplain…as the case may be in working as a hospital Chaplain where we ministered to different faiths. In this work, I identified to my colleagues as being a UTS graduate who was trained in Christian Studies and the World Religions in addition to having a Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies which qualifies me for work as a Chaplain and Pastor.

  11. Thank you, Eugene. As Thomas Schneider pointed out, the idea of establishing a “national religion” in Korea is still very much in the equation.

    However we may “brand” ourselves, living according to the ideals we advocate is the essential trial we face because if we’re not practicing what we preach we will get no traction in our quest to find potential allies or spiritual children. Our movement/church/federation is fractured, as we know, therefore the Cheon Il Guk modality (two-become-one) seems more an ideal than a reality, and that’s been the problem for religion in general.

    The continual abnegation of religion in the West is largely due to the failure of religious people to behave in religious ways. This is something we need to work on.

    In the CSG, Father states that he initiated the “federation” concept because we are a small group and need the assistance of other, like-minded people and institutions in order to advance our providential ideals. The church vs. federation dichotomy certainly needs addressing and Eugene gives us quite a bit to think about.

  12. Eugene, thank you for an astute observation.

    I read in Hoon Dok Hae this morning: “We receive the Holy Marriage Blessing in three stages: These marriages contribute to the enormous task of transcending the barriers of race, culture, nationality, ethnicity and religion, thereby creating one family of humankind. In God’s sight, skin color makes no difference. God does not recognize borders. God does not stand behind the barriers of religion and culture. They are nothing more than the devil’s tricks. Satan has used them to rule over humanity as a false parent for tens of thousands of years”

    It’s really good that God revealed this to you so that we could start thinking about transcending the level of church and federation to the peaceful ideal existence. What types of systems and organizations do we foresee in the Cheon Il Guk era? Maybe this is what we need to focus on to improve the status of Family Federation and all our organizations, but True Parents should remain central. If we are heading towards becoming the True Children of our Heavenly Parent and True Parents, maybe we can find a way to preserve what True Parents brought us while expanding and improving what we have now. Just my two cents.

  13. My passion is simple. I believe we could solve all kinds of problems from the individual through the family to the national level by simply better dialog. Now to move towards that dream, we will need more universal terminology than religion and many cults, creeds and even philosophy have come up with.

    Sounds a bit idealistic and it is, but it is amazing how communication can improve if people get down and dirty and have real dialog about their strong opinions. The catch is they have to follow rules of respect and such. The real catch is they have to stay in the game to have any chance to come up with collective wisdom. Most people get indignant and head for the security of their own blanket.

    If you can relate to any of that, that would be a start, but the reality is not pretty. From suicide to murder to war, we have examples of humanity’s inability to sit down and have a cupper!

  14. Excellent article. Thank you, Eugene. I very much agree with you, and with those above who refer to themselves as members of a “movement” or a “federation”, not a “church”.

    Here is an analogy I’ve used in many discussions on this topic: our movement is like a tree with many branches. We have religious, political, cultural, arts branches, etc. The “trunk” consists of our “core values” (not our theology) such as living for the sake of others, eternal true love, monogamy, and so on. (The core values can be taught and supported on their merits alone, without theology.) The National Family Federation should see itself as the trunk for all of the branches, allowing each of them each to develop in their own right, lending support to each however it can. Ideally, the Federation should not align itself exclusively with the religious branch. But our movement is still young, and for a variety of reasons, emphasis until now has been placed on the religious branch. As long as our members can see the bigger picture and define themselves properly, all is well. For these reasons, I wholeheartedly support your proposal to change the language of our Charter as you have outlined above.

    • Peter,

      If “core values” are the “trunk,” religion is the root. Religion and faith are not branches off of core values. It’s the other way around. Core values are grounded in worldviews which are ultimately grounded in religion, faith, and yes, theology.

      True Parents did not come to establish a new brand of ethical humanism. They came to establish “Godism,” as True Father described it, “an absolutely God-centered ideology.” Minus God, however atheists and ethical humanists would have it, core values make no sense.

      Whether a church or a movement is the best vehicle for Godism at this time or in the future is open to debate.

      • Dr. Mickler, perhaps in your academic experience the term “core values” is primarily associated with ethical humanism. From that standpoint, I agree, core values are “grounded in worldviews which are ultimately grounded in religion, faith, and yes, theology.” However, the core values I am referring to are not the ones grounded in human worldviews, but come from God, our Creator. So I would say God, not religion, is the root of the tree.

        As DP says, religion will no longer remain once its purpose is realized. But the core values (of God) will be with us eternally. I really should have used the term “divine values”, to prevent confusion. I’ll try not to make that mistake again. Thanks for helping me sharpen my pencil!

        • Not quite with you yet, Peter. God is not the root of the tree. God is the creator of the root, and the tree. And the soil out of which the tree grows!

        • Well, as to the precise layout of the tree, we disagree slightly, no problem. But the real issue is, in your own words, “whether a church or a movement is the best vehicle for Godism at this time or in the future”. This is open to debate, as you also say. I believe Eugene’s essay clearly supports the idea that a movement is the better vehicle, and I agree — especially in the USA where terms such as religion, church, pastor and so on carry so much baggage. Like some of the commenters above, I, too, joined a movement, not a church. I’m simply agreeing with Eugene that we should, for all the reasons he lists and more, amend our National Charter.

  15. Members attend churches around the world, while some members still live in church centers, but to think that the movement has somehow become a federation of families is just an illusion. The leaders who run the movement are actually church leaders, not the leaders of an actual federation of families. Such a construct does not exist; never has, and probably never will. Father tried to do away with the church leadership structure in 1989 and turn the running of the movement over to the membership, but there was too much resistance to the idea. Had that happened way back when, we might actually be living in a federation of families, and who knows how much more.

  16. What do God and True Parents desire ? It is that all their children are to be growing their character to embody the highest and most noble and mature standards, so that they become the embodiments of God, the vertical True Parent. This requires constant education/training internally and externally in many ways and on many levels both prior and within family life and beyond.This requires volunteers of heart but also organization. We have a divine purpose to pursue and fulfill.

    We are an educational organization that strives to empower people to pursue and achieve the will of God, again in many areas and levels. I know there are secular laws that want to define what a church is. For me the name does not matter; let’s shake off the old history, but the purposes for which God calls people to build a better family, society and world centered on His Design, which is conveyed through True Parents, and accomplish actual results, that is what is important. The vehicle has to be working well to achieve the above stated goals.

    In some places and circumstances it works better being called a church and in other places and circumstances it could be an educational institution or a movement. As long as it builds up divine qualities in families and society. In other words, we are movement and a church. We are both, depending where we work and what our focus is. When we focus on character and spiritual growth and teach about our faith that is more a church-like focus, though it can be called character education. However when we work in the political field we should be operating more like a movement. We are both church-like and a movement of a group of people who love God and His principles for Life and Love, and we all try to make life and and our world a better place according to the Will of Heaven.

  17. As Mike Mickler said, without God and our core values coming from God and True Parents, we are just another leftwing multicultural movement or humanist leaning movement. In “The Life of Jesus from the Perspective of God’s Will,” Father wrote: “If the democratic world is internal, then the communist world is external. If the right wing is internal, the left wing is external. The Messiah who is to come has no choice except to appear upon the internal foundation of the democratic world, which respects God. The Messiah will build a movement that absorbs the external environment and unites the various cultural spheres centering on the mainstream Christian cultural sphere (Pyeong Hwa Gyeong, 864).”

    Father designated this providential leadership of Christianity, Judaism and Unificationism in his famous Yankee Stadium and Washington Monument speeches. We must stand on the core values of the “Christian cultural sphere” and the Muslim religion has many elements that are contradictory to Divine Principle. Under the parental providential leadership of Unificationism, Christianity and Judaism, all other religions are siblings that do not qualify to lead our movement/church. Divine Principle is an outgrowth of the biblical heritage and enlightens the Christian cultural sphere to this new era of True Parents.

    Thus, perhaps it is best to say we are a religious movement centering on the Christian cultural sphere in which Divine Principle enlightens and expands a new Christian worldview. As our original legal name was/is “The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of Christianity,” we are called to be a uniting force within Christianity that also embraces the world religions to unite under these core values as sibling religions. In the 19th century, the first Conference on World Religions was often described as a movement lead by a SupraChristianity that could embrace the other world religions within its cultural sphere.

  18. Some things to think about, from the Cheon Seong Gyeong:

    “The foundations of Cheon Il Guk are sovereignty, people and land.

    Once people come to know that God definitely exists, they will naturally follow His Will. God’s Will is to make all humanity, His beloved people — to make the planet Earth, His beloved land, and by bringing these together, to make a sovereign nation. This will be the ideal world.” (056-192, 1972.05.14)

    “To establish a nation, there needs to be land, people and sovereignty. What establishes the sovereignty? It is a relationship with God, the Origin. For instance, those who govern the nation are required to conduct the affairs of state by connecting to God, even after most people have fallen fast asleep. In this manner, the leaders will be one with their people. Thus united, they will know that everything set before them is not for their own use, but for the sake of the nation. With this in place, the nation will prosper.” (030-088, 1970.03.17)

    Nation-building (or “new nation-creating”) is an integral part of the equation.

    • My standpoint is True Parents are beyond the “Unification Church” and all other faith traditions including Christianity. They are the parents of humankind as we very often state. Good parents love all their children despite their differences, give them room to grow and mature. Good parents also challenge those who always hurt, judge, condemn their brothers and sisters because they do not look or act exactly like them. For me, Family Fed is a brand that includes all children of God; the rest is rooted in universal principles of “Living for the sake of one another” and forgiveness. Then it becomes more practice than just a belief system. I did not join a church; I joined a movement and I do not introduce myself as a “church pastor” but a Unificationist minister. You are free to call me pastor, reverend, bishop, or imam, if you want. For me, these are just titles, not real ministry, and I do not care much for titles.

  19. Thank you very much, Gene, for all this information, as well as for your service on the National Council. I am fully in favor of the proposed amendment, as the group I joined in 1969 was known as the Unified Family and I was never much in favor of the change to “church.”

    I was particularly struck by this sentence: “We are not talking about changing who we are but, instead, how we refer to ourselves.” I think part of the problem, evidenced by the strong and various opinions expressed here, is that in fact we do not know who we are in this era after Foundation Day, let alone how to refer to ourselves. I do know what I prefer, and that is an organization responsive to the needs of families, and, more than that, one that advocates for the well-being of the entire human family.

    • Only 53?

      We can make the claims that we need to be beyond “the Church,” or that TPs are “beyond the church,” but the issues of “establishing a nation” for God’s sovereignty, or establishing a “national religion” is no small matter; and having spent the better part of the last 18 months in Korea I see this as a very real objective that is being actualized on a number of levels.

  20. Thanks, Eugene, for raising thought-provoking issues and for accurately reporting the origin of FFWPU.

    In my comment, I will first elucidate why I think that Family Church is an appropriate name for a local gathering of FFWPU members. Then I will respond to other points in the article (with much of which I agree).

    When I visited gatherings in 1970 in an apartment on the edge of Harlem, a group of young people living there identified it as Pioneers of the New Age and referred to themselves as the Unified Family, or simply, The Family. The central person among them was referred to as the Leader, and a woman who was evidently the leader of a number of communities was simply referred to as Miss Kim (i.e., Dr. Young Oon Kim). The members had jobs and contributed income to support the existence of the commune and its mission. This activism consisted of evangelizing: inspiring others to learn that the Lord of the Second Advent and his bride were now living, naming him and his location. He was referred to as “Our Leader.” I began incorporating elements of the Principle into papers I wrote as a full-time student in Union Theological Seminary, and, after discerning that Father (as he had come to be called) had a unique experience of and understanding of God and ruled out coercion as a means towards progress, I asked the leader (now referred to as the “central figure”) what I should do to join. She gave me a paper that had the name of the association, on which I attested that I believed Divine Principle and was giving $10 as a donation. She then advised me to participate as an “outside member.”

    Two years later, when I had time from my studies to move into the commune (which had moved twice and was now supported by fund-raising), I personally experienced, what I had already noticed while participating as a regular visitor in the commune, a second function of the commune: a womb-providing therapy and mutual learning for the preparation of members’ leaving it and evangelizing in other kinds of living situations and, importantly, preparing for receiving the Blessing and becoming a child of the True Parents. It was to facilitate this function that the model of Christian church was copied complete with communal worship. Surely, Father worships God, praying with repentance and requests even in the presence of members. In our local communities’ worship members are moved by and learn from each other, and the central figure, in his or her role as pastor, can offer therapeutic prayer. Then, if a local FFWPU community acts like a church, it is appropriate to call it a church and to talk in it as one talks in a church.

    Even now, as a member of the Harlem Family Church, I receive therapy and guidance from the senior pastor and her co-pastor husband, and, for a while received it from another member, who had gained wisdom in the course of suffering a great deal more than I had. (I also subtly counseled her).

    All the above is not to disagree with the article’s elucidation of the Association’s transition from operating as the UC to the FFWPU. I note, however, that even this has been superseded internally by the Cheon Il Guk, which True Mother recently described as a movement for truth and healing.

    Then, what is the Association’s mission? Father came to lead the cosmos to a full relationship with God and to realize God’s ideal for the creation (ipso facto a religious mission). He and True Mother assay this task in place of God, as fulfilling the God-given human portion of responsibility. Wherever HSA-UWC is established as an organization, it exists to facilitate its members’ assaying the task in place of the True Parents. As such, it has an internal and external mission.

    The Association’s internal mission has never changed: it is to lead fallen people back to God; in the Family Federation, they are couples who are to be led. The Association’s external mission has internal and external aspects. The internal aspect is to establish a culture of heart as the Internal Foundation for the Messiah: in America, Christian pastors are targeted to lead the way. The external aspect is to influence the political class to create the conditions in which the culture of heart can be promoted and flourish, and hence, is to establish the External Foundation for the Messiah. Members of our Association continue to be responsible for the internal mission, receiving guidance for this from the True Parents through a chain of central figures. The Association includes a considerable number of organizations other than the local communities which take responsibility for its external mission. These are being coalesced to more directly receive guidance from True Mother. Of course, these organizations are prominently led and staffed primarily by its members. However, reaching out to Christian pastors is being done not only by members in the name of ACLC, but also in the name of a local family church. Eugene, in his article, questions the efficacy of this.

    Of course, our Association is the same Association as when it operated as the Unification Church, and it and its male co-founder were widely known and very controversial. Therefore, if a Christian pastor asks to what denomination my family church belongs, and sometimes even if not asked that, I feel compelled to say, ”We used to call it the Unification Family Church, and changed our name when our Association changed its name, having changed its mission. We are all the same folks” lest we appear ashamed of our past or to be being deceitful. In Jin Nim, in her Lovin’ Life Ministry, used “Unification Church” apparently so that our members’ display of excellence would rehabilitate/exalt the image of our past. True Mother’s use of the name occurs usually when she is addressing long-time members: she is displaying pride of our past.

    • I enjoyed reading this article. Surely in India, where Christianity is less common, people will have no problem to leave out the UC name. Still, this article does not solve the issue that in Western nations, there will still be people who will be focusing on or gaining hope from the Federation name and others from the Church-related name.

  21. Thanks for sharing this. It is not easy to realize the vision of True Parents which is far beyond a denomination or a religion! Your article will help us to grow in that direction, hopefully!

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