Memoirs of a Unification Church Photographer
In his recently published memoirs, Ken Owens shares his experiences as a Unificationist for over forty years, thirty-three of those years as one of True Parents’ photographers. Traveling to over fifty countries and forty-eight states, Ken writes about his experiences of photographing True Parents in their meetings with presidents, kings, prime ministers, world religious leaders and Nobel Prize winners. He also shares his personal experiences with God, including a vision, revelation and dreams. To order a copy, click here.
I had been asked by many brothers and sisters, and especially by my family, to write some memoirs, with photographs, of my experiences of photographing True Parents and their activities for thirty-three years. It is impossible to write about all my experiences, but I have been able to summarize the important events that I could remember: some serious, some happy, a few sad, all very historical, but mostly sharing of True Parents’ heart during their many worldwide events with all those whom they love very dearly.
The book covers, with over 160 photographs, my early years being raised in the United States Navy, serving in the Navy in the Vietnam War, and being introduced to the Unification movement immediately after my return from Vietnam by a blue-eyed, blonde Swedish girl from St. Louis.
For the next two years, while serving in the Navy, I supported the movement in Honolulu, Hawaii. After leaving the Navy in 1975, I underwent training at Barrytown, getting not only intense education in the Divine Principle but also receiving a vision and revelation from God; then, like many new Unificationists, doing four years of public mission work on the Mobile Fundraising Team (MFT) and at Original World Products.
In May of 1980, I was transferred to a new mission at New Future Photo as one of its photographers, where I remained for the next thirty-three years.
For the rest of the book I tried to recall my experiences at the many events of our True Parents: especially at East Garden; Belvedere; Holy Day celebrations; several hundred conferences that True Parents organized and attended; the matchings and Marriage Blessing Ceremonies, from the members of True Parents’ family to the thousands at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium; the ministers’ tours around the world and especially in Israel with the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI); fishing with True Parents at Cape Cod and Alaska; traveling to many countries all over the world and forty-eight states here in America during True Parents’ countless speaking tours; from the great victories at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium and the Washington Monument to the Kremlin where True Parents met with President Mikhail Gorbachev; to dangerous situations like in Oakland, California, with True Father; to Ukraine, where the KGB tried to physically stop True Mother from speaking.
The book concludes with chronicling the last few years of True Father’s life, in which he shared everything—his knowledge, his love and even his possessions—with everyone around him, and finally, in 2012, photographing True Father’s Seonghwa ceremony, where I saw him for the last time at the Cheon Jeong Gung.
But most importantly, I wanted to relate how I experienced God’s and True Parents’ love, from very public events with thousands of people, to those quiet moments when I was almost alone with them.
In conclusion, there are many elders, brothers and sisters, who worked much harder and had deeper faith than I, who had far more personal experiences with True Parents than I, and who sacrificed far longer than I. But to have received so much blessing from being able to record our True Parents’ lives, I still feel extremely grateful and humbled.
I hope that everyone who reads these experiences can feel more love toward True Parents and can tell their own experiences as well, so that not only the first-generation Unificationists can remember, but also that our children and future generations to come can feel the heart of God and True Parents in their own lives.