Rev. and Mrs. Joong Hyun Pak; distinguished pastors, leaders and guests; brothers and sisters.
I am humbled to stand before you tonight, with the awesome responsibility that God has given me, to move the nation of America, which He loves so deeply, toward his will. It is even more overwhelming to inherit this responsibility from Rev. Joong Hyun Pak who has given his heart and soul for the salvation of this nation for more than 25 years. Rev. Pakís vision, passion, and creativity have helped to shape the Unification Movement in America, and have left an indelible mark on the history of this nation. Rev. Pak, you have been a strong leader, a wise teacher, a loving elder brother, and a powerful example of total commitment to all of us, and we will never forget your wholehearted investment for the sake of God, our movement, and America.
Brothers and sisters, let us think about the task before us. What is the mission of the Church? Had there been no fall, our first ancestors would have walked and talked with God throughout their lifetime. The world, and even the entire cosmos would have been the Garden of Eden. Through them, our Heavenly Father would have realized His ideal of love and centering on them, the entire creation would have fulfilled the way of harmony and life for the sake of others.
The nature of the human fall was selfishness. When Adam and Eve disobeyed Godís commandment for the sake of their own self-centered desire, a huge gap developed between the God who lives and loves for the sake of others and the children who sought to live for themselves alone. This vertical alienation from God was expressed horizontally as the man and woman grew distant from each other. Mistrust, blame and resentment filled their hearts. Husband was alienated from wife, parents from children, and brother from brother. Cainís murder of Abel began a history of violence, betrayal, racism and suffering rooted in the fallen nature of humanity: the desire to use others for the sake of myself.
We call this gap between God and humankind sin. Genesis teaches us that "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thought of his heart was only evil, continually." (Genesis 6:5) But God, who cannot help loving His children and living for them, immediately determined to save His children. In the midst of a dark and cruel world he searched the hearts of his children to find even one who could rise up and offer himself for the salvation of humanity. Noah, Abraham, Moses, the prophets, and all those whom God called followed a path of sacrifice. Their tears, their offerings, and sometimes their blood became the foundation upon which God built His providence, gave us His word, and raised a people of faith who were longing to receive His son. Upon this foundation, God sent Jesus, who offered the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus was crucified in ignorance by a people who had been prepared for him for two thousand years, but never knew that he was the anointed one until it was too late. But by obedience, Christ was made perfect, and with his death and resurrection, the veil of the temple was torn in two. Jesus became the bridge, and humanity could be reconciled unto God through him.
Thus, the path of history has been one of restoration, and the purpose of religion is reconciliation. Although it is we who turned from Him, it is God who took responsibility to initiate this reconciliation. Jesus, His son, inherited this responsibility and gave his very life for its fulfillment. And if we are the heirs of Christ, if we are the ones summoned by Heaven to follow this path, then the mission of the church is the same: reconciliation. Reconciliation of God and man, reconciliation of our selfish bodies with our Godly minds, and reconciliation between husband and wife, parents and children, brother and brother.
Thus every division of class, race, religion or nationality is the place of our ministry. Every broken marriage, loveless child, divided community and confused society cries out for our commitment, our compassion, and our embrace. When these divisions are healed, when every dot, every iota, is restored according to Godís law as Jesus promised, this will be the Kingdom of God on Earth. "And there will be neither mourning, nor crying nor suffering any more, for the former things will have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Jesus left the keys to this Kingdom on earth, and what we bind or loose on earth, shall be bound or loosed in Heaven. Ours is not to merely wait for the jeweled city to descend. Ours is to work for the fulfillment of the Lordís prayer: "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven". For this purpose, in the providence of God, America was founded. Despite the many who came to this land for their own devices, and despite the wounds and injustices of its history, America was founded upon a vision. And God planted this vision in the minds of a faithful few, and carved upon their hearts the ideals manifest in the constitution, laws, and the tradition of freedom and justice in this country. America was established as one nation under God, with a mission not for America alone, but for the sake of all humanity. Who is the true founder of this nation? God. Who is the true ancestor of Americas spiritual tradition? Jesus. America was meant to be a model of the Kingdom of God: a melting pot of races, faiths and cultures, and the foundation of not just one nation under God, but one world under God.
But as the prophets forewarned, when the fields are plentiful and the people are satisfied, they forget God. In the nineteenth century, the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville found Americaís strength when he found her pulpits burning with righteousness. "America is great because America is good," he said. "And if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great." Without question, the heart of America and her people is still good. Americans are generous, big minded, enthusiastic, and creative. But America is becoming a nation without God, adrift in a sea of moral confusion. In the last 30 years, the number of married couples with children has declined by more than one third, while single parent homes and non-traditional families have doubled. Two out of every three children born in Americaís cities will never know the love and presence of a father in their homes. Every year 15.3 million Americans are infected with a sexually transmitted disease, including 3 million teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta estimates that one out of three sexually active American teenagers has some form of STD. There are nearly a million teen pregnancies each year in this country. And just weeks ago, the American Psychological Association published a report claiming that sexual abuse of children by adults might be a positive experience for some children! This ridiculous report, and tragedies like the Columbine massacre in Colorado demonstrate the confusion in America. And where is the church? Where are the pulpits burning with righteousness? The very same moral confusion infects our congregations, while many religious leaders are afraid to speak out for fear of alienating their membership.
Tragically, America is leading the cultures of the world not towards heaven, but to the depths of the pit we call hell. Through television, movies, music, and commercialism, Americaís false culture of free sex and selfishness is corrupting the youth of the world. Traditional values of family, respect for elders, and service to society, are breaking down throughout the world. The scourge of HIV and AIDS has become the most devastating plague in history, and threatens the very future of mankind. The most recent report from UNAIDS estimates that 16,000 people contract the HIV virus every day. That equals 1 infection every 5 seconds! Undeniably, the world is following the moral decline of America. If there is to be new hope for humanity, America must wake up, to fulfill the purpose for which it was founded by God.
In history, God has raised righteous prophets from humble origins to lead His providence and to reconcile a stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears to His purpose. In the same manner God called Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a farmers son from the unknown land of Korea, and sent him to awaken America to its providential destiny. Arriving in 1972, he traveled across America sharing Godís message in city after city, speaking on topics such as "Godís Hope for Man", "Godís Hope for America", and "The New Future of Christianity." He clearly proclaimed Americaís mission to become "one nation under God", to lead the world to establish "one world under God", and to pave the way for the Kingdom of God on the earth "one cosmos under God". He warned of Americaís moral decline, the breakdown of its families and the threat to its young people. He made a sacred pledge to work with Americaís young people for the renewal of this country. The fruits of that pledge are the leaders of the movement who fill this room, and the members across America who have given their heart and soul for this nation.
In accordance with the call of Christ, Rev. Moon has led a true ministry of reconciliation in America and around the world. He has founded numerous federations and associations to foster inter-religious and inter-cultural harmony. 90% of the movements budget has been spent not on building churches or strengthening its own denominational identity, but on promoting dialogue and understanding between diverse faiths, races and nationalities. Matching hundreds of thousands of international and inter-racial couples, Rev. Moon has worked to heal the deep divisions between the cultures of mankind. Lifting his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, as a true partner in leadership, they have together established the role of True Parents as leaders of the movement and as a model for humanity. They teach the many couples they have blessed to live for the sake of each other, inherit the standard of True Parents and establish God centered families. And by training young people to live a life of discipline, service and sacrifice, they have taught their followers to reconcile their selfish bodies with their Godly minds.
Just last year, Rev. and Mrs. Moon set an important example for all religious leaders. They dissolved their own denomination, the Unification Church, and committed its membership and resources to become the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, an international and inter-religious association to promote the harmony of mankind through a true family culture.
Rev. Moon called me to America in 1993. And like Rev. Pak and many others before me, I left my family behind and came to serve God in this great country. I have studied, prayed, and worked together with American brothers and sisters. I have come to know and love them, and the many others who have come from Japan, Europe, Africa and around the world to fulfill Godís hope for America. I have seen and felt for myself that this nation has a noble heritage and a great mission for God which has yet to be fulfilled. Over the past year, I have spent many nights in prayer with hundreds of our members at the Ellipse behind the White House in Washington, DC. It was there in 1965, during his first visit to this country, that Rev. Moon consecrated a Holy Ground to pray for the salvation of America. And it is there, in the shadow of the Washington Monument, in view of the memorials to Jefferson and Lincoln, that I have heard their voices calling to me. I have sensed the longing of the pilgrims and founding fathers. I have felt the pain of the slaves and martyrs whose innocent blood was shed unrighteously. And I have understood the sacrifice of the patriots who died for freedom or to purge this nation of the sin of slavery. I have heard them calling to me, and to the Americans of today: "do not let our lives or our deaths be in vain". In the marrow of my bones, I know that they are watching us, praying and urging you and I to fulfill the mission of America for which they gave their very lives.
I, too, stand before you today to make a solemn pledge to the people of America. To the members of the Unification Movement, I come as your brother. I promise to love America as my own country and to raise and support Americans for the leadership of this nation. Let us rededicate ourselves to the new pilgrim movement which our True Parents initiated in this land more than 25 years ago. To the respected religious leaders and friends who are gathered here, let us work together beyond race, religion and nationality for the salvation of America and the establishment of Godís Kingdom of righteousness, love and peace on the Earth. Today, the torch has been passed to a new generation of leaders, a revitalized membership, and a united religious community. We must accept this responsibility with solemn hearts and deep determination. I ask you to join me in pledging our lives in front of God, in front of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in front of the True Parents, our ancestors, and all humanity for the fulfillment of this sacred mission: Rebuilding the Family, Restoring the Community, Renewing America! May God be with you and your families and may God bless America.