God is unhappy and is suffering because the world is imperfect, says Margaret Mead, state leader in Utah for The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity.
Mead, a member of the Unification Church since 1977 and a church missionary for nearly 10 years, said her religion believes God is unfulfilled and it is man's responsibility to make the world a better place and to help make God happy.Led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a native of North Korea who started his ministry as a youth, the Unification Church now has about three million members worldwide, mostly in Korea and Japan, and about 10,000 missionaries in the United States, Mead said.
Despite negative publicity generated by the Rev. Moon's arrest in 1955 for draft evasion (e was freed three months later and acquitted) and his prison stay for income-tax evasion (e was released in July 1985 after serving nearly 12 months of an 18-month sentence), the Unification Church is flourishing, Mead said.
"The reputation of our church was damaged for awhile, but not for long, and slowly and surely our members are changing the hearts of many. When people get to know us, they get a much different idea of the church than the one once portrayed in the media."
She said the Unification Church is a Christian church, based on the Bible. Founded officially on May 1, 1954, it had its beginnings on Easter morning, April 7, 1936, when 16-year-old Sun Myung Moon was praying on a cold Korean hillside. "The spirit of Jesus appeared to him and spoke to him about Christianity in the world and asked him to continue Jesus' own mission by bringing a deeper understanding of God to humankind."
For nine years, while the Rev. Moon attended high school and college, he studied the Bible and finally worked out a series of principles, Mead said, through which many of the unsolved mysteries of the Old and New Testaments were illuminated.
"During this time, North Korea was occupied by Soviet troops and ruled by a communist government. Following a call from God, he went to the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang, and began preaching the word of God."
She said the Rev. Moon was arrested, tortured and left for dead outside the Dae Dong Police Station. "His congregation found him, bleeding and unconscious, lying in the snow and prepared for his funeral, but one young man treated his injuries with herbal medicines and, miraculously, the Rev. Moon survived."
He resumed his teaching but was again arrested and this time was sentenced to five years at the Hungnam labor camp - "where most inmates died." When Gen. Douglas MacArthur's troops landed at Inchon in October 1950, Moon was liberated, along with a group of followers who had become his converts in prison.
Thereafter, Moon began teaching what has become known as the Principle or Divine Principle. Today, the Unification Church has spread to 130 countries and Moon's messages have been translated from Korean into more than 20 languages.
Mead said her church teaches that God wants men and women to exercise their responsibility to fulfill three potential blessings:
"To grow to perfection so as to be one in heart, will and action with God and to have their bodies and minds united together in perfect harmony centering on his love.
"To be united by God as husband and wife and give birth to sinless children, establishing a sinless family and ultimately a sinless world.
"And to become benevolent masters of the created world by establishing with it a loving dominion of reciprocal giving and receiving."
Because of human sin, she said, none of these ideals have been realized. "God wants the problem of sin solved and these three goals accomplished, thus bringing about the Kingdom of God in the visible, material world and in the invisible, though substantial, spiritual world."
Mead said Jesus, while the only begotten son of God, was unsuccessful in establishing the kingdom of God on earth, "a task that awaits the Second Coming."
The church believes the Second Coming will occur in our age, and that the Rev. Moon is the perfect man and the person who will guide the world to perfection and who will establish the kingdom of God on Earth and in heaven.
A native of England, Mead described herself as a former atheist whose mother is a Catholic and whose father is an atheist. "I graduated from Leeds University with a degree in pharmacology in 1977 and visited the United States. I came to Utah and loved it, and visited Temple Square and felt a strong spirit of goodness there.
"I think that visit began to open my mind to exploring religion and thinking about whether there was a God or not. I went to California and met some Unification Church members there and attended a short seminary sponsored by them and became excited by their religion."
She said she returned to England a few weeks later and met more Unification Church members. She was converted and a few months later decided to become a missionary.
In 1980, she came back to the United States to attend a three-year Unification Church seminary in upstate New York. She met her husband, John, a Unification Church member and a scientist, and they were married in 1982.
She graduated in 1983 and was sent to Utah as state leader. Since then, she has helped open missionary centers in Salt Lake City, Logan, Brigham City, Ogden, Layton, Tooele, Orem and Provo and establish churches in homes in Salt Lake City, Logan, Layton and Provo.
One of the church's most ambitious programs in Utah and throughout the United States since 1985 has been Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy. The seminars, lasting about eight days, are being held in South Korea and have attracted about 7,000 American ministers and religious leaders to Korea.
She said the seminars are designed primarily to break down barriers between people and to help them learn to work and live with one another harmoniously. "We are all really just brothers and sisters under God," she said.
The Unification Church in Salt Lake is located at 757 Seventh Ave., where church services are held at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday. Korean meals are also served at the church on occasion. The next meal is planned at 7 p.m. June 12.