This week in history, May 22-28

By | May 23, 2016

International Strides for Peace

This week in history, May 22-28:

  • Peter Koch departs as the first missionary to Europe (May 22, 1963)
  • The American Clergy Leadership Conference is inaugurated (May 22, 2000)
  • The Universal Ballet Company is established (May 24, 1984)
  • Women of Peace Rally takes place in Jerusalem (May 24, 2004)
  • Interfaith clergy attend the Marriage Blessing Ceremony (May 27, 2001)

May 22, 1963

Peter Koch Departs as the First Missionary to Europe


Peter Koch immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1957. In 1959, he began engineering studies in San Francisco where he met and joined the Unification Church in January 1962. He was concerned to reach other foreign students and spent much of September and October 1962 hand-signing letters to 1,900 foreign students at the University of California, Berkeley. He subsequently “felt responsible for my people at home” and determined “to bring the Principle to Europe.” He departed by ship on May 22, 1963, arrived in Holland on June 13, printed 80 copies of the Divine Principle in German, and decided to begin his mission work in Heidelberg, some 225 miles from where he had been staying. He determined to walk rather than take a train, as a condition. However, within 25 miles he developed severe blisters due to defective boots. By the fourth day, blisters extended to his ankles, and all the skin pulled off the flesh of his feet. Wrapping his feet and refusing to stop, he later wrote, “That was certainly my worst experience. I did a 40-day fast once, but it was nothing compared to that 21-day trip to Heidelberg on raw feet. I’ll never forget that. That was my foundation for starting the mission in Germany.” He was a successful missionary, leading the church in Germany until 1969, and in Austria after that. Starting in 1980, he dispatched missionaries to the Soviet Union, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, East Germany, and Albania—all communist countries—as chronicled in the book, Mission Butterfly.

May 22, 2000

American Clergy Leadership Conference Inaugurated

05-23-16 ACLC inaugurated

The American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) was established on May 22, 2000, when 120 clergy from seventeen denominations traveled to Seoul, Korea, for the inaugural conference. Their trips to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), where they released 150 doves of peace, and to the movement’s Cheongpyeong Heaven and Earth Training Center were particularly significant. At Cheongpyeong, ministers witnessed “a rainbow around the sun,” which many interpreted as a sign that True Father was from God. ACLC clergy later played a central role in True Father’s 2001 “We Will Stand in Oneness” 50-state speaking tour. Sixty ACLC clergy and their spouses took part in True Parents’ inaugural Interfaith Marriage Blessing in 2001. ACLC clergy also were major players in launching True Parents’ Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) and pilgrimages to the Holy Land in 2003. ACLC remains active as a committed core of clergy who understand Rev. and Mrs. Moon’s identity as the “True Parents of Humankind.”

May 24, 1984

Universal Ballet Company Established


The Universal Ballet was established by True Parents in May 1984 as the first private ballet company of Korea. It began in a practice room in the back of the Sunhwa (Little Angels) Arts School. At that time, male ballet dancers in Korea were so rare that the company had employees from the print shop dancing on stage. However, under the direction of Adrienne Dellas, Kirov Ballet Director Oleg Vinogradov and prima ballerina Julia (Hoon Sook) Moon, the company developed a national and international reputation. Julia Moon noted: “We pioneered ballet in Korea when it was very primitive. … We were the first to bring choreographers, teachers, costume and set designers and dancers from the West to Korea. We have been and still are a leader in the field of ballet in Korea.” True Father gave the motto Ye Cheon Mi Ji (Heavenly Art Creating a World of Beauty). He said, “Ballet is truly a heavenly art form. The dancers stretch themselves upward to the ultimate degree to reach God in heaven. Ballet uses the entire body as an instrument to express humans’ aspiration toward God. In this sense, it is the ultimate expression of artistic beauty.”

May 24, 2004

Women of Peace Rally in Jerusalem


The Middle East Peace Initiative by woman leaders took place in Jerusalem, Israel, over four days beginning on May 24, 2004. The Women’s Federation for World Peace International and the Interreligious and International Peace Council co-hosted the programs, which included a seminar on religious harmony, followed by a ceremony to bring harmony and peace in the Middle East and a peace march. The participating women have maintained connections with one another through continuous meetings. (Materials provided by the FFWPU History Compilation Committee)

May 27, 2001

Interfaith Clergy Attend Marriage Blessing Ceremony


The American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) was established in May 2000 when 120 clergy from 17 denominations traveled to Korea for the inaugural meeting. With ACLC support, True Father undertook a 50-state “We Will Stand in Oneness” revival tour in early 2001. During that tour, which emphasized the sanctity of marriage, individual clergy began to seek True Parents’ blessing on their marriages. This snowballed and, in the end, more than 60 “ministers, imams, and clerics: Pentecostals and Baptists, Lutherans and Muslims, Native Americans, Sufis, and more” participated in an Interfaith Clergy Marriage Blessing Ceremony in the Cotillion Room of the Hilton Hotel in New York City on May 27, 2001. The Blessing included a “providential participant,” Zambian Roman Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, 71, who wed Maria Sung, 43, a Korean acupuncturist. While acknowledging that “the priestly vow of celibacy has a profound meaning in the providence of God,” he stated, “the sacrifice of celibate life has fulfilled its purpose.” He insisted he had not changed his faith but affirmed True Parents’ “special ministry to build loving, God-centered families amongst people of all faiths, in the capacity of True Parents.” This sparked worldwide publicity, surfacing the issue of clerical celibacy at the highest levels of the Vatican hierarchy.

This Week in History briefly lists significant events in the history of the Unification Church, the lives of the Founders, and world events that are momentous to Unificationists. Most items are marked according to the solar calendar. Items marked “H.C.” correspond to the Cheon-gi or Heavenly Calendar, which is based on the lunar calendar. This installment covers the week of  May 22-28.

Contributed by the FFWPU History Compilation Committee and Dr. Michael Mickler, Professor of Church History at the Unification Theological Seminary.