A brief history of Reverend Moon’s life
1920: Reverend Moon’s Birth Home in What Is Now North Korea
Sun Myung Moon was born on January 6, 1920, into a family of farmers that had tilled the land for centuries. As a boy he studied at a Confucian school and was a keen observer of the natural world. Around 1930, his parents became fervent Christians–Presbyterians–and the young Sun Myung Moon became a Sunday school teacher.
At that time, Japan ruled Korea and was trying to force the practice of the Shinto religion onto all Koreans.The religious intolerance of the Japanese regime was one facet of the contempt they held for the Koreans, a people they believed to be inferior. The Korean people were subjected to forty years of humiliation and cruelty as part of Japan’s Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Growing up oppressed in his own land, Sun Myung Moon learned early the pain of injustice, whether among his own people or at the hands of the Japanese rulers.
The young Moon became intensely aware of human suffering and the failure of humanity to create a loving and just world. He sought to understand why people suffer and how suffering can be ended. From going to church, he knew that religion addressed the fundamental human condition and promised an ideal world to those who obey God; but he saw that established religions, although centuries old and based on scriptures offering revelatory insights, were, in practice, unable to answer many of life’s questions or solve the deepest problems facing humankind. Troubled by the immense gap between religious ideals and the actual state of the world, he began his own ardent pursuit of solutions through a life of prayer and study.
1935: A Calling from Jesus Christ
Early Easter morning 1935, Jesus appeared to the young Sun Myung Moon as he was praying in the Korean mountains. In that vision, Jesus asked him to continue the work which he had begun on earth nearly 2,000 years before. Jesus asked him to complete the task of establishing God’s kingdom on earth and bringing peace to humankind.
The young Korean was stunned by this encounter, and especially by the request that had been made of him, and at first he refused. However, after deep reflection, meditation and prayer, he pledged to take on the overwhelming mission.
1935-41: Reverend Moon Receives and Develops the Divine Principle
After personally accepting Jesus’ call, the young Moon set out to discover the meaning of this unusual call. If Jesus called him to complete his mission, it meant that Jesus’ mission was incomplete. Was not salvation through the cross all that humankind needs? What was it that Jesus had left undone on earth? If sin is not completely solved, then what is the actual root of sin?
Sun Myung Moon ceaselessly studied the Bible and other religious teachings in order to unravel these mysteries of life and human history. During this time, he went into deep communion with God and entered the vast battlefield of the spirit and flesh. Through denying his personal desires he overcame temptations of knowledge, wealth and physical pleasure. He came to understand God’s own suffering and His longing to be reunited with His children. He learned the difficult steps that humankind would have to take in order to return to God and establish true peace on earth. After receiving his commission from God, he knew he could not succeed in his task without a profound understanding of the Creator and His creation. He intensified his quest for the truth, spending days and nights in passionate prayer, rigorous fasting and study. His method was to posit specific questions, research answers in the physical and spiritual worlds, and then seek confirmation for those answers through prayer. On several occasions he was guided directly by Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and other saints and sages of all faiths, who met him in spirit and contributed to his understanding of God and the complex history of God’s relationship with humankind. By the age of 25, he had developed the fundamentals of the Divine Principle and Unification Principles.
1941-43: Education, Imprisonment and Torture in Japan
In 1941, Rev. Moon graduated from high school and went to Japan to study electronic engineering at an industrial college affiliated with Waseda University. During his time in Japan, he continued his intense prayer and search for the truth. A school friend during that time said that in his room he kept three Bibles —one in Korean, one in English and one in Japanese, which he studied continuously.
He also was a Christian leader in the Korean independence movement against the Japanese occupation of Korea. Young Christians and communists were the strongest leaders of the independence movement against the Japanese occupation. In Japan, some of his closest school friends were communists, and while their atheism pained him, he recognized their sincere dedication to a utopian ideal. A fellow student at that time, Aum Duk-Moon, reports that Reverend Moon defended communists to his Christian friends, saying that they were good people and that Koreans should work together to save their country. He was eventually imprisoned by the Japanese for his student underground activities and tortured for not revealing the names of his collaborators. This imprisonment was what would be his first of six imprisonments under four governments: Japan, North Korea, South Korea and the United States
1943-46: Return to Korea, Outreach to Christian Churches, Imprisonment and Torture
In 1943, Reverend Moon returned to his native land.Upon returning from Japan, Reverend Moon was married to Sang Il Choi, a strong Christian from a well-known Presbyterian family.
In 1944, Reverend Moon was again arrested and severely tortured by the Japanese occupation government in Korea after his name came up in the interrogation of a communist student friend who had been active in the anti-Japanese underground in Tokyo. He refused to confess and was finally released.
In spite of such treatment by the Japanese; his cousin and companion at the time reports that Reverend Moon showed only love and respect to Japanese people. When the war ended in August 1945 he persuaded others not to take revenge on local Japanese officials and worked secretly to get them safe transport back to Japan.
By 1945 he had systemized his teachings, which came to be known as the Divine Principle, and he began his public ministry. The Divine Principle is the fundamental teaching of Reverend Moon and the Unification Church.
Korea, although an Asian country, is recognized having perhaps the most fervent Christian faith of any nation. Reverend Billy Graham was so impressed by the spiritual vitality of her churches during his first visit to Korea that he predicted that one day Korea would send missionaries to revive the West. In this atmosphere of fervent Christianity, Reverend Moon’s original plan was not to start a separate denomination but to work with other Christians to build God’s kingdom on the earth. He worked hard to introduce his new revelations to existing Korean Christian churches. But his new teachings were not well received. American Christian missionaries disregarded him as an unschooled “country preacher.” Korean ministers, jealous of the young man’s impact on their congregation members, accused him of espousing false teachings. Despite his many efforts to reach out to established Christian churches, they did not respond to his new ideas. Reverend Moon soon realized that he was headed down the lonely path of a pioneer religious visionary.
In 1946 while buying rice for his family, Reverend Moon was told by God to leave his family without notifying them and go to communist North Korea to preach.
1946-50: Preaching in Communist North Korea, Imprisonment in a “Death Camp” and Escape to the South
Before World War II, the center of Korean Christian activity was Pyongyang, now the capital of North Korea; it was called the “Jerusalem of the East.” Among the spirit-filled churches were many with strong messianic expectations. Some of these churches had received revelations that the Messiah would be born in Korea, and they were directed in various ways to prepare to receive him.
He began to teach publicly, despite the dangers presented by the communist-dominated government. As a poor preacher with new interpretations of the Bible, Reverend Moon was more vulnerable than leaders of the established churches and was, therefore, one of the first religious figures to be imprisoned by the communists.
Charged with disturbing the social order, in November 1946, the young minister was imprisoned and tortured. The police believed him to be dead and tossed his body into the prison yard. Some of his followers found him and carried him away to tend to his broken body. Miraculously, Reverend Moon survived and regained his strength. Undaunted, he began preaching in public once again.
Hungnam prison camp
Labor at death camp
In April 1948, he was arrested a second time and sentenced to five years of hard labor in Hungnam prison. He was among the first of the Christian ministers sent to the Soviet-style North Korean gulag. Hungnam was an extermination camp where prisoners were deliberately worked to death. Few lasted more than six months. Yet in that horrific concentration camp, Reverend Moon survived for nearly three years. Although he did not speak a word of the Divine Principle, many of his fellow prisoners looked to him for spiritual strength and became his disciples.
On June 25, 1950, the North Korean army invaded the South in a lightning attempt to unify the entire peninsula by force. UN and American forces, under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, rescued the beleaguered South. One month after the capture of Seoul, UN forces reached the gates of Hungnam prison. Knowing the UN forces were near, the communist prison authorities began to execute the prisoners. The prison camp was liberated by UN forces just hours before Reverend Moon’s scheduled execution.
Despite his brutal prison camp experience, Reverend Moon did not immediately flee to the South. Instead, he returned to Pyongyang and spent forty days searching for the members of his scattered flock. He eventually found a few members and then traveled south on foot with two of them. One of his followers had a broken leg and protested that he would slow the party down. Reverend Moon insisted on bringing him and for the long trek either pushed him on a bicycle or carried him on his back.
1950: Evangelization Begins Anew in the Refugee City of Pusan, South Korea
The first church (Pusan)
As a one of hundreds of thousands of war refugees, Reverend Moon arrived in the southern port city of Pusan, where he and one disciple built the first Unification Church from discarded army ration boxes. At that time, he told his small following that one day the message of the Divine Principle would be spread all over the world. He prophesied that people from all over the world would venerate that hillside. Reverend Moon’s predictions sounded unbelievable. Today, in fact, tens of thousands of people make a pilgrimage to the spot.
Beginning his evangelization work in the South after nearly five years in the North, Reverend Moon was rejoined by his wife. However, he continued to dedicate himself night and day to his religious mission. She could not accept his dedication to the mission at the sacrifice of his family. Finally she filed for divorce, in spite of Reverend Moon’s strong opposition to a divorce and efforts to dissuade her. (His only child from this marriage and his family are loyal followers of Reverend Moon.)
1954: The Founding of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (known as the Unification Church)
First Church in Seoul
On May 1,1954, in Seoul, Reverend Moon founded the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, Reverend Moon’s faith community which became popularly called the “Unification Church” worldwide.
The church immediately attracted followers from a major Christian women’s university, Ewha University, a school closely linked with the Korean government and with the mainline Protestant denominations. Because many students were joining the church, the school sent professors to investigate. When several professors also joined, instead of sincerely welcoming this new church, the school persecuted it. The university president ordered the professors and students to either leave the church or leave the school.
Coincidentally, newspapers in Seoul suddenly began to print alarming stories about the Unification Church, sex orgies and Reverend Moon being a North Korean agent. Reverend Moon was thrown in jail, to be released weeks later when no charges could be found. Again the following year he was thrown in jail on charges of evading the military draft, even though during the time in question he had been in Hungnam prison. After several months confinement–and sensational media coverage–the charges were dropped. His release received scant notice in the press. Thus began the pattern of collusion between religious leaders, government and the media that to this day suppresses Reverend Moon and his church.
Amid this severe persecution, Reverend Moon nurtured a growing community of faithful disciples, known as the “weeping church” because of the tearful prayers of Reverend Moon and his followers. By 1957, churches were established in thirty Korean cities and towns.
1958-59: First Missionaries Sent to Japan and the United States
In the late 1950s, the first international missionaries were sent, one to neighboring Japan in 1958 and two to the United States in 1959.
1960: Marriage to Hak Ja Han Moon
On March 16, 1960, Reverend Moon was blessed in holy marriage to Hak Ja Han. Their blessing was followed by a series of group marriage blessing ceremonies for their followers. Hak Ja Han and her mother, a devout Christian, had also fled south during the Korean War. They soon thereafter joined the Unification Church. Since their marriage, Mrs. Hak Ja Han has dedicated herself entirely to supporting Reverend Moon and his mission. With an unwavering life of sacrifice, courage and dignity, she has stood by her husband through every hardship, borne 14 children and is the grandmother of more than 40 grandchildren.
1965: Reverend Moon Makes His First World Tour, Visiting 40 Nations
1968: The International Federation for Victory Over Communism (IFVOC) Is Founded
IFVOC was the first of many organizations and activities founded by Reverend Moon to bring about the peaceful downfall of communism. Reverend Moon taught that communism should be defeated ideologically through education about the fallacies of Marxism-Leninism, offering a counterproposal consisting of universal principles called Godism, conferences, global networking, rallies and demonstrations in Asia, the United States and Latin America.
1971: Reverend Moon’s Ministry in America Begins
In 1971, God directed Reverend Moon to expand his ministry to the world level by going to the United States. America, which embraces all peoples, races and religions, represents the world. What happens in America has global repercussions. He expressed gratitude for America’s role in liberating his homeland. But he also knew that God expected much more from this land that had been so richly blessed. It was clear to Reverend Moon that America had drifted from its original ideals.
1972: Reverend Moon’s Makes HIs First Public Speaking Tour in Seven US Cities
The “Day of Hope” speaking tour began February 3 in Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York and went on to seven major US cities with the purpose of reviving traditional Judeo-Christian values.
1972: The Unification Church Is Established in All Fifty States of the US
The Unification Church had centers in ten states, and in 1972 pioneer leaders were sent out to the forty remaining states to found Unification Church centers. In the same year, evangelical bus teams went state by state in a membership campaign, and thousands of young people accepted his message and dedicated themselves to the Unification Church.
1974: Reverend Moon Speaks to an Overflow crowd 0f 25,000 in New York’s Madison Square Garden and Holds Speeches in All Fifty States
After the very successful Madison Square Garden event on September 18, public speeches were given and banquets hosted for thousands of society’s leaders in all fifty states.
1974: Reverend Moon Meets with President Richard Nixon in the White House
Reverend Moon met with US President Richard Nixon during the Watergate crisis. Through rallies and newspaper statements, he urged Americans to forgive the beleaguered Richard Nixon at the time of the Watergate scandal. Any public relations strategist would have advised him against such action, which called on Americans to “forgive, love and unite.” Virtually no one at the time was willing to side with a president on the verge of impeachment, but Reverend Moon does not flinch when he receives God’s directions. He also foresaw the serious consequences of undercutting the American presidency in a world still dominated by the communist threat. His appeal was met with scorn, even though his “forgive, love and unite” message embodied the essence of Christian practice.
1974: Persecution in America Begins
As a result the rapid growth of the movement in the United States, it went through a period of persecution similar to what other new religious leaders and movements have faced in the past–the new was seen to be strange and threatening.
Reverend Moon’s appeal for a true Christian renewal of America was initially welcomed. However, this receptivity proved shallow when, in 1974, he became an easy target for the now-hostile news media unhappy over Reverend Moon’s “forgive, love and unite” message concerning the Watergate scandal.
The fair and objective coverage of the past was replaced by portrayals of Reverend Moon and his church in the worst possible light. All sorts of unfounded allegations from Korea were dug up. In this atmosphere of hysteria, the enthusiasm and idealism of his young followers was reinterpreted as “brainwashing.” Reverend Moon was portrayed as a hypnotist and an agent of a foreign government. Religious and racial bigotry and persecution, a phenomenon in the United States as old as the country itself, showed its ugly face. Even though the United States was founded for the sake of establishing religious freedom, regrettably, religious intolerance remains today. The Unification Church bore the brunt of America’s religious intolerance for three decades.
1975: The Unification Church Spreads Worldwide, Sending MIssionaries to 120 Countries
With churches already established in Korea, Japan, North America, and the Western European countries, in May 1975, Reverend Moon sent out missionary teams consisting of one Japanese, one American and one German to countries in Asia, Africa, the MIddle East, Latin America and Oceania, bringing the total number of nations with Unification Church representatives to 120.
1975: Reverend Moon speaks to 1.2 million people in Seoul at the Yoido Island Rally for the Protection of the Fatherland
Reverend Moon continued his Day of Hope tour, accompanied by a Global Team of young followers from America, Europe and Asia, with speeches in Japan and Korea, concluding with a rally at Yoido Island near Seoul which was attended by 1.2 million people. Reverend Moon spoke a message of determination to stand against communism in South Korea and establish a world centered on God, at the height of the Cold War during a time of great tension between North and South Korea.
1975: The Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) Is Founded in Barrytown, New York
UTS is a fully accredited graduate school offering Master’s Degrees in Divinity and Religious Education. UTS was founded as an ecumenical seminary, and faculty members have belonged to a broad range of religious denominations. Rather than concentrating solely on Unification theology, students learn philosopy, psychology, world religions and homiletics, as well as the histories, theologies, and scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other world religions.
1975: International Interreligious Work Begins
Starting with dialogues at the Unification Theological Seminary, the New Ecumenical Research Association for Christian Unity and continuing with other initiatives, such as the Assembly of the World’s Religions, Reverend Moon has been working to promote interreligious discussion, understanding and cooperation to solve the problems of poverty, war, injustice and breakdown of the family. The 1985 Assembly of the World’s Religions was attended by 1,000 distinguished religious leaders and scholars. A key social teaching of Reverend Moon is that the world’s most difficult problems will be best solved by religious leaders working interreligiously rather than by purely political and economic initiatives.
1976: During America’s Bicentennial Year Reverend Moon speaks to 300,000 Persons at the Washington Monument on the Theme God’s Hope for America
Rally at Washington Monument
To date this was the greatest religious rally ever assembled in Washington, D.C. An estimated 300,000 people of all creeds and colors came to hear him speak at the “God Bless America Festival” on September 18, 1976. At this historic rally, Reverend Moon called upon America to fulfill its blessing as one nation under God, and to create “one world under God.” He referred to himself as a “doctor” or a “fire fighter” from the outside who has come to help America meet its third great “test” as a nation, that of “God-denying” communism, and to revive its religious heritage. He proclaimed that the Unification Church with its “absolutely God-centered ideology” had the “power to awaken America, and raise up the model of the ideal nation upon this land.”
1978: Reverend Moon Founds the Home Church Movement
In 1978, Reverend Moon called members from around the world to England, where he gave them daily guidance and sent them around the country in a grass-roots community service initiative called “home church.” He gave direction to members around the world to choose an area of 360 homes and serve the people and be examples of God’s love.
1983: Investigation and Indictment by the United States Government
Under strong pressure from a few politicians who saw an easy way to garner favor with voters riled up by the bad press about Reverend Moon and the Unification Church, the United States government launched a plethora of official investigations of Reverend Moon involving nearly twenty federal agencies. Hearings were conducted on Capitol Hill to warn of the dangers of new religious movements.
Meanwhile, a five-year Internal Revenue Service investigation finally produced a politically-crafted indictment against Reverend Moon. This indictment, handed down in 1981, charged him with evading income taxes nearly a decade earlier, as well as conspiracy to avoid those taxes. The total amount of taxes supposedly evaded was less than $8000.00. No one in the United States has ever been indicted for tax evasion of such a small amount. The indictment’s real purpose, however, was to spur Reverend Moon to leave America.
However, the United States government and some politicians underestimated Reverend Moon’s religiosity and commitment to his mission in America. When the indictment was handed down, Reverend Moon was in Korea. His lawyers recommended that he not come back to America, since there is no extradition treaty between the United States and Korea and by staying away he could avoid conviction and imprisonment. However, he did not follow their advice. He was, after all, a man of God, not a criminal fleeing the law. He immediately returned to the United States. He told his counsel: “I will not abandon my mission in America. That I will never do.”
Upon arriving in New York for the Federal District Court arraignment he spoke only one sentence: “Your Honor, I am not guilty.” The outcome of the trial was a foregone conclusion. He was convicted and sentenced to spend eighteen months in a federal prison. When, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, despite forty amicus briefs from mainline Christian leaders, legal associations, civil liberty groups and state governments, he prepared to go to jail.
Still, the US Justice Department tried to negotiate with Reverend Moon’s attorneys, determined to achieve their goal of him leaving the United States permanently. On the condition that Reverend Moon depart for Korea and never come back to the United States, they said the government would waive his prison sentence. He flatly refused. His comment was, “It must be God’s will that I go to prison. There must be a providential reason why I must go this way.” Imprisonment was not new to Reverend Moon: He already had endured imprisonment in communist North Korea, South Korea and Japan during World War II.
1984: Top Religious Leaders Call the Indictment a Serious Violation of Religious Freedom
In the meantime, protests were being made all around the nation over the injustice Reverend Moon was suffering as a result of religious persecution. Many Christian leaders who never knew or cared about him began to realize that the government had made a serious assault on religious freedom. Christians, including the National Council of Churches headed by Rev. Dean Kelley and non-religious groups representing more than 160 million Americans, came to his legal defense.
1984: US Senate Subcommittee Publishes a Report That in Reverend Moon’s Tax Case “Injustice rather than justice has been served”
A US Senate Subcommitte published the following report on Reverend Moon’s conviction:
“We accused a newcomer to our shores of criminal and intentional wrongdoing for conduct commonly engaged in by a large percentage of our own religious leaders, namely, the holding of church funds in bank accounts in their own names. Catholic priests do it. Baptist ministers do it, and so did Sun Myung Moon… we charged a non-English-speaking alien with criminal tax evasion on the first tax returns he filed in this country. It appears that we didn’t give him a fair chance to understand our laws. We didn’t seek a civil penalty as an initial means of redress. We didn’t give him the benefit of any doubt. Rather, we took a novel theory of tax liability of less than $10,000 and turned it into a guilty verdict and eighteen months in a federal prison.
“I do feel strongly, after my subcommittee has carefully and objectively reviewed this [Reverend Moon’s tax] case from both sides, that injustice rather than justice has been served. The Moon case sends a strong signal that if one’s views are unpopular enough, this country will find a way not to tolerate, but to convict. I don’t believe that you or I or anyone else, no matter how innocent, could realistically prevail against the combined forces of our Justice Department and judicial branch in a case such as Reverend Moon’s.”
1984-85: Prison Life in America
Rev. Moon with Rev. Kamiyama in Danbury Federal Prison
Without bitterness, Reverend Moon served time in Danbury Federal Prison, the sixth imprisonment of his life. He quickly won the respect of fellow inmates for his humble and friendly ways.
On August 20, 1985, Reverend Moon was freed after completing thirteen months of incarceration. Upon his release, major Christian and civil rights leaders, including Reverend Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority and Reverend Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, held a press conference decrying the persecution and imprisonment of Reverend Moon and to welcome him back.
1984: The Washington Times Is Founded: the Number Two Daily Newspaper in Washington, D.C.
In 1984, during his Danbury imprisonment, Reverend Moon founded the The Washington Times, which became the second largest daily newspaper in America’s capital. The Washington Times was founded by Reverend Moon first to be instrumental in the peaceful fall of communism, a goal achieved in conjunction with the Reagan Administration, and then with the end of the Cold War, to promote family values and support of the role of religion in society.
1990: Reverend Moon and Mrs. Moon Meet with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
Rev. and Mrs. Moon with President Gorbachev
In 1990, Reverend Moon organized a major conference of news media leaders and former heads of state in Moscow. This fulfilled a pledge he had made in 1976 that one day he would organize a “great rally for God in Moscow.” During this conference, Reverend and Mrs. Moon met with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Through several interviews, televised and in print, he gave a message of hope to the Soviet people, urging them to turn toward God. A strong opponent of communism, Reverend Moon taught that the ideology was mistaken but he came to love the communist people. Since the fall of the Soviet Empire, he has funded numerous activities to assist former communist countries in their transition to democracy and freedom.
1991: Reverend and Mrs. Moon Meet with North Korean President Kim Il Sung
Rev. and Mrs. Moon with with Kim Il Sung
In 1991, Reverend Moon made a crucial step towards the establishment of world peace through the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea. Risking his life, he traveled to North Korea in December 1991, and met with President Kim Il Sung, under whose regime he had been tortured and sent to a labor camp. His purpose was to seek ways to bridge the gap between the two countries. The North Korean ruler, who had suppressed religion for forty years, met and graciously welcomed Reverend and Mrs. Moon. In the same visit Reverend Moon was permitted to return to his hometown and the house of his birth, placing flowers on the graves of his parents and embracing proud and tearful surviving relatives.
1992: The International Women’s Federation for World Peace Is Founded, and Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moons Begins Her Own Public Activities for Peace
In 1992, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, the devoted wife and mother of 14 children, began her own public activities for world peace beginning with a world speaking tour. Her mission is both to lead peacemaking work and promote the central role of women in creating a just and peaceful society. Today, after years of intense international work, Mrs. Moon is recognized as one of the most effective woman leaders in the world. She has spoken in such notable venues as Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United Nations in New York City, the Kremlin, the Great Hall in Bejing and congressional buildings in Japan, Korea, and Canada. Perhaps no other woman leader has addressed so many large audiences in as many countries as Mrs. Moon.
Her first world tour in 1993 took her to 44 cities in America, 27 cities in Japan, 40 university campuses in Korea, and 41 nations around the world. In 2006, accompanied by her adult children and grandchildren, she undertook two world tours for peace at the incredible pace of a country per day. She and her family spoke to enthusiastic audiences in 120 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Oceania and Latin America. She was received as a dignitary and met with many heads of states, prominent religious leaders and political leaders.
1996: The Family Federation for World Peace Is Founded
Mass wedding ceremony
In 1996, Reverend Moon announced the end of the era of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. In its place, he founded the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, building a network of families from every race, religion and culture, united in the belief that centered on God’s love, happy marriages and successful families are the cornerstones for solving the most fundamental problems of society.
1999: International and Interreligious Federation for World Peace Is Founded
Reverend Moon proposes the creation of an international council of religious, civic and political leaders to supplement the peacekeeping work of the United Nations. The IIFWP, known as the Universal Peace Federation since 2005, has been active in 190 countries with 110,000 “Ambassadors for Peace” who work for peace in their nations and internationally. The IIFWP is a Non-Governmental Organization with Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN.
2001: Reverend Moon responds to September 11 by Organizing Conferences to Address Interreligious Conflict
The first was held in New York itself, in October 2001, for religious and political leaders from around the globe; the second, an unprecedented conference for international Muslim leaders in Indonesia in December 2001, was titled: Islam and the Future World of Peace, reflecting Reverend Moon’s confidence in Islam’s potential to be a major partner in the global quest for peace.
2003: Middle East Peace Initiative Begins
Reverend Moon is dedicating himself to address the world’s most unsolvable challenges–achieving peace in the Middle East and a peaceful reconciliation between North and South Korea. The Middle East Peace Initiative exemplifies his approach to peace by calling on leaders of all fields, including government, academia, religion and the arts, to join in interreligious peace missions to the trouble spots of the world.
2005 Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Is Launched on Six Continents
The mission of UPF is to create a global council of religious and other leaders to supplement and support the peace-making work of the United Nations. It has a Global Peace Council with distinguished leaders from all continents and will have a Peace Force to mediate in the world’s trouble spots.
2005: Bering Strait Tunnel Project Is Announced
2005-2006: Three Generations of the Family Bring Message of Peace to 120 Countries
Reverend and Mrs. Moon are the parents of 14 children and more than 40 grandchildren. Beginning in 2006, a number of their adult children and adult grandchildren, accompanied by their spouses, joined Mrs. Moon on a history-making world tour for peace to 120 nations. Audiences worldwide are inspired that Reverend Moon’s important work is being effectively continued through the dedication of the second and third generations of his family. Another son, Hyung Jin, who practices Korean Buddhism and is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, began visits to world religious leaders to network and plan for interreligious peace work.
2006: Cheon Jeong Gung Peace Palace, Museum and Meeting Center Inaugurated in Korea
Cheon Jeong Gung Peace Palace, Museum and Meeting Center
Called the “Vatican of the East,” the Cheon Jeong Gung Peace Museum and Meeting Center is a magnificent building in the mountains of the beautiful Korean countryside two hours outside Seoul and close to the North Korean border. With state-of-the-art meeting facilities, it is designed to be a foremost conference center where world leaders will meet to make plans for the new era of peace and prosperity.
In August 2012, Reverend Moon was hospitalized with pneumonia. He was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Seoul where his condition became critical. After spending two weeks on a respirator in intensive care, where he suffered further organ failure requiring dialysis and other measures, he was transferred to the church-owned Cheongshim Hospital in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul.
There, surrounded by his family, Sun Myung Moon passed peacefully on the morning of September 3, 2012 (1:54 am KST; September 2, 12:54 pm EDT) at the age of 92 (93 Korean age).
Unification Church members worldwide immediately began gathering to pay their respects and to attend the Seonghwa (funeral) ceremony on September 15, 2012.
Scholars have noted that Reverend Moon’s legacy will endure, not just for the controversies that surrounded the mass weddings and accusations of ” brainwashing” but also for “creating what was arguably one of the most comprehensive and innovative theologies embraced by a new religion of the period. This legacy comprises the Divine Principle and more religious teachings, the Unification Church that he founded and spread world-wide, hundreds of thousands of Blessed families, and numerous cultural organizations and businesses, including the Washington Times newspaper.
His life’s work was to make the foundation for lasting peace in the world. In particular, Reverend Moon strove to find ways to reunify his homeland of Korea. He met North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, whom he embraced as a brother in 1991. Despite his staunch anti-Communist stance, Reverend Moon and his family continued to develop connections with the North Korean leadership, including establishing Pyonghwa Motors, a joint business partnership between a Church-owned South Korean company and a state-run North Korean consortium. When Reverend Moon died his youngest son, Hyung Jin Moon, traveled to North Korea to meet with mourners at a church-owned peace institute in Pyongyang. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un sent condolences and a wreath delivered by Jang Song-Thaek, whose wife is the sister of the North’s late leader Kim Jong-Il. Hyung Jin Moon also received the “National Reunification Prize” on behalf of Reverend Moon for his contributions to reunification: “Moon positively contributed to realizing the nation’s reconciliation and unity and the country’s peaceful reunification and achieving the prosperity common to the nation.
While world peace did not appear in his lifetime, Reverend Moon planted many seeds:
“It was in Reverend Moon that I found the broadest ecumenical spirit, a fierce commitment to the unity and fraternity of mankind, an unflinching love of all people, a total commitment to the institution of the family, a tolerance for the diversity of humankind and the need for its harmonization. I also found in him the wisdom to blend the Occident with the Orient, the North with the South, an ability to combine eternity with a sense of the contemporary reality, the insights to create a bridge between science and faith, the courage to wage warfare against escalating hedonism, and an abundance of the divine as well as the human gifts of humor and love of life. … His place in human history is assured. We merely must make certain that the seeds he planted for true peace are nourished by all of us throughout the world.”
Nicholas N. Kittrie, From the Foreword, The Seeds of True Peace, IIFWP (2002)