I have had the privilege of chairing an editorial team that has been assembling a chronology of the life and work of Sun Myung Moon (1920-2021) and Hak Ja Han Moon (1943-) in the United States from 1965-2022. Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, FFWPU Cheon Eui Won Chair of North America, initiated the project in June 2020, and the team began work in August. In October 2020, Dr. Kim conveyed oversight of the project to Dr. Chung Sik Yong, FFWPU Regional President of North America.
For two-and-a-half years, the team — Dr. Franco Famularo, Dr. Frank Kaufmann, Michael McDevitt, Larry Moffitt, and Tal Zorer — has met twice weekly and spent countless additional hours with the goal of documenting Father and Mother Moon’s daily activities in the U.S. The initial draft is nearing completion. This article covers various aspects of the chronology: its rationale, organization, scope and limitations, and findings. It also offers thoughts as to ongoing work.
The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), also known as the Unification Church, has a distinctive terminology, reflecting its theology and traditions. The chronology (and the remainder of this article) follows Unification terminology. Most prominently, it uses True Father, True Mother, True Parents and True Family to refer to Sun Myung Moon, Hak Ja Han Moon, their couple and their family.
This chronology is not a full narrative of True Parents lives, which extended far beyond U.S. borders. However, chronologies of this type are foundational for broader narratives. Unificationists are confident that Father and Mother Moon’s nearly 60 years of ministry in the U.S. evidence unparalleled dedication and consistency. Whether they were tired, misunderstood or what time of day it was were secondary matters. The mission and people of the U.S. were primary. For Unificationists, they came from Korea with love. In this respect, compiling a chronology is a form of appreciation.
Early on, the editorial team agreed to organize True Parent’s activities in the United States and the chronology by decade, each of which has a distinctive character:
- During the 1960s, True Father visited the U.S. for the first time in 1965, as part of his first world tour, establishing 55 Holy Grounds in 48 states in 43 days. In 1969, True Father returned to the U.S. with True Mother as part of the second world tour, during which they blessed 13 couples in marriage.
- During the 1970s, True Parents shifted the focus of their ministry to the U.S. and became highly visible, conducting rallies in all 50 states, including at major venues such as Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium and Washington Monument.
- During the 1980s, True Parents expanded their ability to exert influence in the U.S., establishing The Washington Times and educating American leaders as to the dangers of atheistic communism. At the same time, controversy which began in the 1970s led to True Father’s incarceration.
- During the 1990s, True Parents publicly declared their messianic identity, established numerous federations for world peace, including the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), and conducted massive International Marriage Blessings.
- During the first decade of the 2000s, True Parents proclaimed Cheon Il Guk (the Nation of Cosmic Peace and Unity), worked to revitalize the United Nations by founding the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), initiated peace pilgrimages to the Middle East, and proclaimed the Pacific Rim Era.
- During the 2010s, following True Father’s ascension in 2012, and into the 2020s, True Mother carried forward their global ministry.
The chronology, itself, is True Parents-centric. All of the more than 7,000 entries focus exclusively on an event or activity in which True Parents directly participated and that was the criterion according to which content was included. Each entry identifies not only an event or activity but also its location with as much specificity as possible. For example, documentation of True Parents’ hundreds of public speeches includes cities, buildings (such as hotels), and specific rooms in which they spoke. The chronology also specifies the length of True Father’s sermons, often measured in hours, when that information was available, as well as the starting time of devotional services, commonly 6:00 or 5:00 a.m.
Two or more activities on a given day are organized chronologically with a main entry and subsequent bullet points. True Parents were continually on the move and the chronology documents their travel, noting arrivals and departures, mode of transportation, and the numbers of supporters seeing them off or welcoming them, as information is available. There are some editorial comments in chronology entries which are used to provide context or information when needed. These are brief, enclosed in parentheses and intended to be as unobtrusive as possible.
Each entry is sourced and a separate “source document” identifies the specific speech, magazine article, book, website, legal document, newspaper article, security log, personal journal, photograph, or eyewitness account from which information is derived. The source document also includes a “Comment” section when two or more sources are not in agreement and notations when sources are incorrect. In addition, the chronology includes seven appendices: a “Glossary of Unification Terms;” a “List of Acronyms;” statistical data including the number of days True Parents spent in the U.S. by year and decade, as well as the number and dates of True Parents’ visits to select U.S. cities; a listing of Holy Grounds established by True Father in the U.S. over 43 days in 1965 by location and date as well as tour data such as miles covered; a list of Holy Blessings conducted by True Parents in the U.S.; a complete list of True Parents’ speaking tours by date and venue; and, a separate chronology of True Parents in Canada, 1965-2020.
Scope and Limitations
The scope of True Parents’ work in the United States is immense but includes three major emphases:
- First and foremost, True Parents proclaimed God’s Word. The chronology includes every recorded sermon, every speech delivered by True Parents during public speaking tours, all recorded commentaries delivered as part of daily Hoon Dok gatherings for reading and study, all proclamations and all conference addresses.
- Second, True Parents exercised spiritual and pastoral leadership. The chronology documents the establishment of Holy Grounds, Holy Marriage Blessings officiated by True Parents, Holy Day celebrations, Director and Leader meetings, workshops and training sessions in which True Parents participated, visits to centers in the field, prayer conditions, fishing conditions and tournaments, declarations of milestones in the providence, and their initiation of new movement traditions.
- Third, True Parents pursued initiatives consistent with their vision of social and cultural transformation. The chronology documents their work with scientists, religious leaders, civic officials, academics, artists, journalists and others, their establishment of organizations and federations dedicated to world peace, and their development of economic enterprises dedicated to technological equalization and alleviation of world hunger.
Apart from this, True Parents endured public opposition and prosecution, even persecution, which is also recorded in the chronology.
Although the chronology incudes more than 7,000 separate entries, it falls far short of fully documenting True Parents’ daily activities, which began at 5:00 a.m. or earlier, and extended well past midnight. Most entries include only a single or several items from each day.
Significantly, the chronology lacks coverage of breakfast meetings which True Parents convened on a daily basis and at which they made important decisions as to the movement’s direction. At these meetings, True Parents received hundreds of reports and proposals from leaders. The HJ East Garden Museum is currently in the process of compiling an inventory of 40 large trunks that contain binders of these presentations. These will add significantly to the record of True Parent’s guidance and direction but are not included in this chronology.
Additionally, despite efforts to be exhaustive, there are gaps in coverage of True Parents’ day-to-day activities, sometimes of days, other times of weeks when the existing historical record is silent. True Parents spent a total of 9,189 days in the U.S. from 1965-2022. As of this writing, 5,016 of these days are included in the chronology, or 54.58%. 4,176 days are yet to be accounted for. This is reminiscent of the Gospel account of Jesus’ ministry as recorded in John 21:25: “there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” It is hoped that these gaps will be filled as more records come to light.
The chronology includes complete documentation of True Parents’ arrivals and departures from the U.S. Therefore, it is possible to calculate the number of days they spent in the U.S. — by year, by decade and in total over six decades. It also is possible to calculate the percentage of days per year, per decade and over the duration of their U.S. ministry that True Parents spent in the U.S. True Parents spent over 300 days in the U.S. in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984 and 1985. In the 1970s and 1980s, they spent approximately two-thirds of their time in the U.S. During the 1990s and from 2000-2009, True Parents increasingly spent time elsewhere but still spent substantial time in the U.S., nearly half of the 1990s and more than 40 percent of their time from 2000-2009. True Parents spent a total of 9,189 days in the U.S. from 1960-2020, or 42 percent of their time. Excluding 1965 and 1969, they spent 9,009 days in the U.S. from 1970-2020, or 51 percent of their time.
Chronologies are living documents and rarely, if ever, finished. The present chronology had an initial end date of 2020 but now extends through 2022. Still, there are necessary stopping points.
The present goal is to complete a limited first edition of the chronology prior to the dedication of the Cheon Won Gun Exhibition on the Course of True Parents’ Life and Work, scheduled to open in May 2023. Beyond that, the intention is to post the chronology and source document from which the entries are derived online, either on a site set up specifically for the chronology or on a FFWPU-related site such as the Sunhak Institute of History, USA site or the HJ East Garden Museum site. Readers and interested parties will be invited to make comments or submit additional entries for vetting.
It is hoped that the chronology of True Parents activities in the United States will inspire additional chronologies of its type in other countries. The Sunhak Institute of History, Korea, published extensive, though untranslated, chronologies in 2016 and 2020, and the International Sunhak History Committee has assembled a global online chronology, regularly updated, which includes U.S. activities.
However, these chronologies are broader in scope, documenting activities of the worldwide Unification movement. They do not, as this chronology does, focus exclusively on activities in which True Parents directly participated. Thus, while offering a fuller picture of activities considered providential, they do not zero in on True Parents, whom Unificationists regard as the center of the providence. This chronology’s final appendix, “True Parents in Canada: A Chronology, 1965-2022,” compiled by Dr. Franco Famularo, is an example of applying this model in a different, though related national context. The interplay of various approaches in varied national settings will afford the best opportunity to appreciate the life and work of True Parents.♦
Note: This article is abridged from “From Korea with Love: Assembling a Chronology of Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon’s Activities in the United States,” Journal of Unification Studies, Vol. XXIII (2022).
Dr. Michael L. Mickler is Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies at UTS, and Director of the Sunhak Institute of History, USA. His books include: The Unification Church Movement (2023), Footprints of True Parents’ Providence: The United States of America (2013), and 40 Years in America: An Intimate History of the Unification Movement, 1959-1999 (2000).
Photo at top: Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon at a celebration at Belvedere in Tarrytown, NY, 1973.
Thanks so much for this, Dr. Mickler. Although your landmark “40 Years In America” was an important work, this study seems to take it to the next level. And this is now digital, which will allow it to be utilized essentially forever.
The incredible amount of effort expended by True Parents personally, supported by all the data, is of note. Although this is a scholarly work, I got emotional as I read your accounts of True Parents’ leadership, sacrifice, persecution and suffering in America, for its sake. “True Parents’ daily activities, which began at 5:00 a.m. or earlier, extended well past midnight…”
Thanks, Henri. The project was a labor of love. Working on it was always a highlight of my week.
I felt like I had to take two aspirin and go lie down at the conclusion of your article! This project must have seemed monumentally overwhelming at times. Congrats to the whole team involved in pulling off this project. Looking forward to checking it out.
Chuckles and frowns appeared across my face as I read through the five-plus decades account of True Parent’s USA activities. I chuckled as an image of True Parents behaving like the proverbial energizer bunnies flashed through my mind: “…Just Keep Going and Going and Going and Going…” Frowns appeared reflecting on what my daily recorded activities over the past several decades might look like in comparison to True Parents.
Herein lies an important takeaway for me when considering this account of TP’s activities in America: Each of us can reflect on how accurately our own daily agendas and activities demonstrate our highest values and beliefs about self and our place in the world.
One day, someone will write an account of the heroic, sometimes dangerous, and always sacrificial work of the Tarrytown/Irvington/Global security team that supported True Parents during all these years.
I suppose one could feel judged by TPs’ standard. That wasn’t my experience in working with others compiling the chronology. I felt enlarged.
Congratulations to the whole team. As a member of the IOWC in the US from 1983-90, I just want say thank you.
Those, like you, who supported TPs’ work are champions in their eyes.
Speaking as a Church History teacher, I must say “thank you” to your team and your great effort.
If the Second Century Church had had a historical conscientiousness even of a small percentage of yours, just think how much better informed the Church would be about Jesus and the Apostles. Your work far surpasses anything like it in Church History.
Thank you for awakening my historical consciousness. I and other students in the Seminary’s early years were blessed by having teachers such as yourself.