A Church that Is not a Church

Koreans have a saying that a person insulted by others lives a long time. If I were to live in proportion to the number of Insults I have received, I could live another 100 years. Also, my stomach has been filled, not with food, but with insults, so you could that my stomachis more full than anyone else's. The established churches that had opposed me and thrown stones at me when I started a church in Pyongyang began to oppose me again in Busan. Even before we had properly begun our church, they began to look for ways to make trouble for us. Phrases like "heretic" and "pseudo-" were placed in front of my name so often that they seemed to become part of my name. Indeed, the phrase, "Sun Myung Moon," came to be synonymous with heresy and pseudo-religion. It almost never happened that a person would mention my name without attaching either "heretic" or "pseudo-" to the front.

In 1953, unable to endure the persecution, we closed the hut in Busan and moved first to Daegu and then to Seoul. In May the next year, we rented a house in Seoul's Bukhak Dong neighborhood located near Jang-choong-dang Park and hung out a sign that read "Holy Spirit Association we did not want to belong to any denomination. We certainly had no intention of creating a new denomination.

"World Christianity" referred to all of Christianity around the world, both past and present. "Unification" referred to the sense of purpose. "Holy Spirit" was a reference to the harmony between the spiritual and physical worlds with the love of the father-son relationship at the center. In other words, it meant, "The spirit world centering on God is behind us." In particular, unification represented my ideal for bringing about Gods ideal world. Unification is not union. Union is when two things come together.

Unification is when two become one. "Unification Church," which would become our commonly known name later, was given to us by others. In the beginning, university students referred to us as "the Seoul Church."

I did not particularly like using the word "kyo-hoi (church)." The Chinese character for "fcyo" means "to teach," the one for uhoTt gathering. So the Korean word means, literally, "a gather for teaching." The word for religion, jong-kyo, is composed of two Chinese characters meaning "central" and "teaching," respectively. So a church is a gathering where fundamental things are taught. The word "kyo-hoi" does not provide any reason for people to share with each other. Yet, people in general use the word "kyo-hoi" with a special meaning. I did not want to place ourselves in such a special category. My hope was for a church without a denomination. True religion tries to save the nation, even if it must sacrifice its own religious body to do so; it tries to save the world, even at the cost of sacrificing its nation; and it tries to save humanity, even if this means sacrificing the world. Under no circumstances does the denomination take precedence.

It was necessary to hang out a sign as a church* but in my heart I was ready to take down that sign at any time. As soon as a person hangs a sign that says "church," he is making a distinction between the church and that which is not the church. Taking something that is one, and dividing it into two is not right. This was not my dream. It was not the path that I was to travel. If I need to take down that sign in order to save the nation or the world, then I am still prepared to do at any time.

Reality required us to put up a sign, so we hung a sign near the front entrance. It would have looked better if we had hung it someplace high, but the eaves on the house came down very low, giving us no good space to place a sign. In the end, we hung it on a spot that was about as high as the height of a child. In fact, some children in the neighborhood took it down and played with it, eventually breaking it in two. Because of its historical significance to our church, we couldn't throw it away, so we attached the two pieces with wire, and nailed it securely to the front Perhaps because our sign was treated with such humiliation, our church also received humiliation beyond description.

The eaves were so low that people had to duck their heads in order to pass through the entrance. The room was 2.4 meters (8 ft) square, and it was so cramped that when six of us would pray we might bump foreheads with each other. People in the neighborhood laughed at our sign. They made fun of us, asking what kind of world unification we might be dreaming of in a house so small "you have to crawl to get into it." They didn't try to find out why we had chosen such a name. They simply looked at us as though we were crazy. This did not bother us, however. In Busan, we had begged for food to sustain ourselves, and now we had a room to perform services. We had nothing to fear. For a suit, I took a pair of US. Army fatigues and died them black. I wore these with black rubber shoes. In our hearts* we were more dignified than anyone.

People who attended our church referred to each other as shik-kuf or family member. All of our members then were intoxicated with love. When a person thought of the church and said to himself, "I want to go there," he could see what I was doing and hear what I was saying. We were all connected by an inner electrical cord of love that let us communicate with God. A woman would be at home preparing rice, and suddenly run off to the church. Someone else would say she was going to change into a new dress, and then run off to the church in her old dress with holes in it. If a woman's in-laws shaved her hair to keep her from going to the church, she would come with her bald head.

As our members increased, we began to evangelize on university campuses. In the 1950s, university students were the pinnacle among intellectuals in Korean society. We began by working near the gates of Ewha Woman's University and Yonsei University, and soon a sizable number of students were spending time with our church. Professor Yoon Young Yang, who taught music at Ewha, and Professor Choong Hwa Han, who was the dormitory master, came to our church. Many students also came, but they didn't come just one or two at a time. We had tens of students coming at once and their numbers grew in geometric progression. This was a surprise to the established churches and to us as well.

Within two months after we began our campus evangelical work, our congregation exploded in size, primarily with students from Ewha and Yonsei. The rate of growth was incredible. It was as if a spring breeze had blown through and changed the hearts of the students all at once. Tens of Ewha students would pack up their belongings on a single day and move out of the dormitory. If someone tried to stop them, they would say, "Why? Why are you trying to stop me? If you want to stop me, you'll have to kill me. Kill me!" They would come out by climbing the wall around the building. I tried to stop them, but it was no use. They didn't want to be in their dean school; they wanted to come to our church that smelled of dirty feet. There was nothing anyone could do about it Finally Dean Hwal-ran Kim (Helen Kim) sent Professor Young Oon Kim of the Department of Religious Social Welfare to our church. Professor Kim had studied theology in Canada, and she was a woman theologian in whom Ewha held great hope for the future. Dean Kim sent Professor Kim, whose specialty was theology, in the hope that she would develop a definitive critique of our theology that could be used to stop the students from coming. But Professor Kim, who had been sent by the university as its special representative, joined our church a week after meeting me and became one of most enthusiastic members. This gave us even more credibility among the other professors and students at Ewha. Our membership numbers snowballed.

As the situation grew out of control, the established churches resumed their criticism that we were stealing their members. This seemed unfair to me. I never told anyone that they should only listen to my sermons, or only attend our church. If I chased someone out the front door, they would come in the back way. If I locked the doors, they would climb over the fence. I was powerless to stop them. The people most perplexed by this were the administrations of Yonsei and Ewha. They were supported by Christian foundations, and they could not stand by and do nothing as their students and faculty were swarming to another religious group.