Our mission is church growth and peace movement revival
Monthly JoongAng, September 2015 issue (Korean Mainstream Monthly Magazine)
Translated by PR Department of Tongil Foundation
Special Interview: Kyeung-Seuk Ryu, President, FFWPU Korea
“Our mission is church growth and peace movement revival”
Presently expanding church growth through field certification and policy customized by region… The Third Anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Seonghwa
Commemorative Events with a Diversified Program Attracts Attention
“We commemorate the Third Anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Seonghwa in a meaningful way, and the Family Federation will put forth its best efforts toward church growth by consistently spread the teachings of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han.” This year will mark the second year since President Kyeung-Seuk Ryu was appointed as Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (hereafter referred to as Family Federation) Korea President. He evaluated his position and said, “During the two years since my appointment, I focused on the church’s internal growth.”
President Kyeung-Seuk Ryu, born of parents who participated in the Marriage Blessing Ceremony (another name for the Blessing) officiated by the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, is the first second generation member to become president of Korea FFWPU. He graduated from Sun Moon University’s Theology Graduate School with a master’s degree in theology. He is also a religions expert who graduated from the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) in the United States with a master’s degree in religious education studies, as well as a doctorate degree from Sun Moon University’s theology graduate school. Since 1991, he has served as a pastor in Korea, overseas missionary and director at the Family Federation Headquarters. He then became the director of the Providential Organization Support Headquarters at the Tongil Group Foundation in 2008 before becoming Vice President of the Family Federation in 2013. On August 10, we met President Ryu who is leading the Headquarters as a next generation leader at the Family Federation Headquarters in Cheong Pa Dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul.
Two years have passed since you were appointed as the President of FFWPU Korea. Can you share with us some impressions you’ve had during this time?
“It passed by very quickly (laughs). After Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Seonghwa, the Family Federation has been transforming into a more innovative enterprise centering on Dr. Hak Ja Han. Young leaders, including myself, have established a clear strategy and goal to achieve ‘Vision 2020’ and have been actively carrying out various activities. Especially, this year marks the third year and halfway point of the seven-year course to create an internal and external foundation. In order to do this, the Family Federation has been focusing on the goals of witnessing and training leadership, propelling the three innovative policies such as organization, capabilities and environment, as well as making efforts for the settlement centered on the local churches, Divine Principle education and strengthening capabilities of church pastors and ministers.”
“The answer to church growth cannot be found in the headquarters, but in the local churches.”
‘Vision 2020′ is a mission strategy to revive the Family Federation as a ‘national religion’ by the year 2020, which would mark the 100th year since the birth of the founder of Family Federation Rev. Sun Myung Moon. We intend to gain one thousand new members, open a new era and prepare the foundation for world peace. According to the Family Federation, the methods and activities that were carried out in the past centered on the Headquarters will be converted into a system, including activities, centered on the local churches. In order to do this, over the past three years, we have established the organization, personnel and the environment to strengthen the church headquarters in each region.”
I heard that you are strengthening the local churches in order to become a “national religion?’
“That is right. The answer to church growth cannot be found at the central headquarters, but rather in the local churches. The Family Federation has been changing from a system centered on the main headquarters to a system centered on the local churches. As a result, we are seeing an effective expansion of church congregations.”
I heard that you have a certification system by which the system centered on local churches can take root. Could you explain what this is?
“Wouldn’t policies customized to each region reach out and appeal to the people of that region? If the local church reports that a certain system would help with witnessing, then the central headquarters will investigate and examine this system before approving it. If the approved system is needed at another church, it can be used there, too. Through the policy centered on local churches, outstanding programs that have been developed in local churches in the past can be discovered and spread through the certification system. This is also plays a part in strengthening the capabilities of leaders. This year we also plan to continually strengthen the capabilities of pastors and ministers through this certification system. I believe that through this, more new members and leaders can be witnessed to.”
President Ryu explained that by implementing a system centered on local churches, education and activities contributing to society have also changed. “The level of divine principle education at church or demand for volunteering activities will differ in every region. Therefore, when implementing Divine Principle education under the new system, various programs customized to suit the guests of each region are carried out, such as one-on-one Divine Principle education, introduction lecture to Divine Principle, Divine Principle workshops or public discussions. The true love volunteering organization established in each region will carry out volunteering activities that are suitable to the state or situation of that region.”
These days, President Ryu is going through a busy schedule. This is because he is making preparations for the commemorative events for the Third Anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Seonghwa. In the Family Federation, Seonghwa means ascension (funeral). President Ryu explained, “The term ‘Seonghwa’ as explained by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, refers to the moment when you enter the spirit world with joy and victory after having lived a full life of bearing fruits in the physical world.”
Third Anniversary of Rev. Moon’s Seonghwa: “Let us connect the world to peace”
This year marks the Third Anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Seonghwa. How are the preparations coming along?
“The Third Anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Seonghwa is on August 30 (July 17 by the heavenly calendar). At 9 AM on this day, the Family Federation will hold this commemorative ceremony, along with three thousand participants, including current and former heads of state and other prominent figures from Korea and abroad. Twenty institutions and organizations, including the Universal Peace Federation, Women’s Federation for World Peace, Citizen’s Federation for North and South Unification, Youth Federation for World Peace, Korea Religious Association Conference, the Wonmo Pyeonae Foundation and Korea Multicultural Peace Federation, as well as education culture organizations such as the Segye Times, Sun Moon University and the Korea Cultural Foundation, came to pay respects to Rev. Sun Myung Moon. We are planning and organizing various commemorative events in the Unification Church community all over the world to commemorate the Third Anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Seonghwa.”
What kinds of events were held in commemoration of the Third Anniversary and what was the focus of these events?
“This year, the motto is ‘Let’s connect the world through peace,’ and the events were held with the spirit of resolving conflicts between religions, ideologies, races, generations, civilizations, genders, regions and socioeconomic classes in order to realize a peaceful world. It consisted of the ‘Sunhak Peace Prize Award Ceremony’ and the ‘awardees special lecture,’ ‘World Summit 2015,’ ‘Peace Road 2015,’ ‘International Symposium Centered on Rev. Moon’s Ideology of Peace’ and ‘World CARP Assembly,’ which gathered peace loving university students. Diverse volunteering activities and programs were held in each nation.”
According to the Family Federation, from August 7 to 9, five thousand young people including Koreans, Japanese and people each nation participated in the “2015 National Seonghwa Camp (Multicultural Youth Camp)” held at the World Jamboree Training Center in Kangwondo. This camp had the title, “Seonghwa! Become the light of peace and unification,” and consisted of various activities such as the “Seonghwa Cultural Festival,” “Peace Concert,” “DMZ Peace Walk Competition” and “Hypothetical Unification Presentation Contest.” It was a meaningful event where they were taught the peace ideology and vision of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han. They shared in the culture of heart, and reflected about how to realize unification on the Korean Peninsula as well as world peace. In addition, in Korean churches, from September to October, the “Third Anniversary of the Cosmic Seonghwa Love Sharing Festival” was held in 231 places promoting four great areas, “Love Sharing Combined with Service” will be held. An affiliate of the Family Federation had high hopes, “The Love Sharing Festival was held according to the title decided, Forgive, Love and Unite, and was done in order to share the love and peaceful life of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han with all who participated. It will become a door to the nationwide festival celebrating the Seonghwa period.”
President Ryu emphasized that the highlight of the events held to commemorate the Third Anniversary of the Seonghwa would be the First Sunhak Peace Prize Award Ceremony. The Sunhak Peace Prize honors the lifelong legacy of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who devoted his entire life to the peace movement on a worldwide scale centering on true love. It was established by Dr. Hak Ja Han in order to perpetuate and develop that spirit and legacy. This year is the first time it is being awarded, so I think it will be the one of the most important events. This year in particular, the recipients selected are involved in the fields of climate change and the food crisis. These are areas in which Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han have always demonstrated an interest.”
As presented on the news in recent times, Kiribati President Anote Tong (63) and Dr. Modadugu Vijay Gupta (76) were selected as co-recipients. President Anote Tong was highly commended for his “legacy of making efforts to raise awareness on the gravity of climate change in the global community and protection of rights of climate change refugees. Dr. Modadugu Gupta was widely recognized for developing innovative fish farming technology and contributing towards resolving poverty and the food crisis in East Asia.”
After concluding this Third Anniversary of the Seonghwa ceremony, I heard that there will be a change regarding the Seonghwa ceremony. What is the reason for this?
“This Third Anniversary of the Seonghwa Ceremony marks the end of commemorative events held on the worldwide scale. The reason we decided upon three years is that in the Family Federation, the number ‘3’ represents ‘the completed number,’ and is the basic unit of all living things. Most religions celebrate the birth of their founders. Similarly, from now on, the Unification Church community will hold worldwide commemorative events for the birthdays of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han. There will also be large-scale events held annually in January by the lunar calendar to commemorate the Cheon Il Guk Foundation Day.”
“Church Growth and Realizing a Peaceful World is a Part of the Success of ‘Vision 2020’ “
“If you were to choose three of Rev. Moon’s peace legacies, what would they be and why?”
“Rev. Sun Myung Moon has devoted his entire life to transcending the barriers of race, nationality, culture, language and religion in order to realize the vision of ‘One Family Under God.’ This is the core of Rev. Moon’s peace ideology. In order to do this, Rev. Moon has developed peace movement of various persuasions in every field. Among these, we can pick the Intercultural and Interreligious Marriage Blessing Ceremony, the movement to bring down national boundaries as part of the North and South Korea Unification, the Peace UN Movement and the movement to reconcile religions.”
Do you have any special plans in leading the Korea Family Federation in the future?
“The most important mission is to lead to success the ‘Vision 2020′ led by Dr. Hak Ja Han. In order to do this, we will make efforts to expand our church congregation through revitalization centered on local churches. Strengthening leaders’ capabilities and training future leaders are also important topics to consider. In order to nurture the future leaders who will inherit and develop the providential legacies of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han, we will establish a road map for educating every level starting from kindergarten and elementary school all the way up to university students, and then train them to become leaders. We also plan to strengthen our media, broadcast and advertising providence. This year in particular, we are looking to strengthen online missionary activities. In order to do this, on June 16, we officially launched the Internet broadcast ‘True Love TV’ on the occasion of the 61st anniversary since the establishment of the Family Federation. As part of the new media missionary policy, the Family Federation has been planning and preparing for the ‘True Love TV’ since last year in order to change the image of the Family Federation that the greater society has, and create a new environment for witnessing. We will continue these efforts so that through this ‘True Love TV,’ we can communicate with citizens, spread the Unification Church’s culture of heart and become a religion that can contribute to society. We will also work for the Korean society’s healthy development.”
President Ryu also emphasized that he would create activities in solidarity with twenty other institutions and organizations in order to establish a substantial foundation. He said, “Recently, Dr. Hak Ja Han has been emphasizing the DMZ World Peace Park, the 5th UN Secretariat Korean Peninsula project, the Peace Road project for North and South Unification and world peace and the Religious Leader’s Peace Conference, as well as other diverse projects. We plan to work on these together with other related organizations. We will invest our efforts into reviving peace movements in order to ensure internal and external growth of the church and realize world peace. We will absolutely make ‘Vision 2020’ a success.”