- Blessing Ceremony of the Unification Church
The Blessing ceremony of the Unification Church is considered by the
Unification Churchto be the most important and central ceremony in a person’s spiritual life. The Blessing is given to married (or engaged) couples. Through it, members of the Unification Church believe, the couple is removed from the lineage of sinful humanity and engrafted into God’s sinless lineage. As a result the couple’s marital relationship—and any children born after the Blessing—exist free from the consequences of original sin. (Children born into Blessed families are known as Blessed Children or second generation.)
For Unificationists, these interracial, interreligious and international mass marriage ceremonies symbolize the family as the hope for
Frank Kaufmann, a leading Unificationist scholar, wrote:
We do not have mass weddings because Reverend Moon doesn't know any better, doesn't know how Americans react to things, or that he stubbornly adheres to some odd Korean habit. Our matchings and weddings are a direct and perfect manifestation of a profound theology and world view. You see, Unificationists believe that all the problems on earth, from the Gulf War, to child abuse, to the crumbling school system (you name it) are fruits of the fact that self interest crept in to the family, the love between husband and wife, reproductive affairs, and parent child relationships, thus since the beginning there has never been even one family whose members were not dominated by some significant degree of self interest. [ [http://www.tparents.org/library/unification/talks/kaufmann/MATCH.htm The Words of Frank Kaufmannn ] ]
Blessings of church members
The Blessing ceremony was first held 1961 for 36 couples in
Seoul, South Koreaby Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moonshortly after their own marriage in 1960. All the couples were members of the Unification Church. Rev. Moon matched all of the couples except the 12 who were already married to each other from before joining the church, which was officially founded in 1954. [ [http://www.dci.dk/?artikel=388 Duddy, Neil "Interview: Dr. Mose Durst] ]
Later Blessing ceremonies were larger in scale but followed the same pattern with all participants Unification Church members and Rev. Moon matching most of the couples. In 1982 the first large scale Blessing held outside of Korea took place in
Madison Square Gardenin New York City. In 1988, Moon matched 2,500 Korean members with Japanese members for a Blessing ceremony held in Korea, partly in order to promote unity between the two nations. [ [http://www.petermaass.com/core.cfm?p=3&news=2&newspaper=39 MARRIAGE BY THE NUMBERS; MOON PRESIDES AS 6,500 COUPLES WED IN S. KOREA] Peter Maass" Washington Post" October 31, 1988]
The Blessing ceremonies have attracted a lot of attention in the press and in the public imagination, often being labeled "mass weddings". [ [http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/chi-0604sushi-1-sidebar,0,6972307.htmlstory Despite controversy, Moon and his church moving into mainstream]
Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2006. 'The church's most spectacular rite remains mass weddings, which the church calls the way "fallen men and women can be engrafted into the true lineage of God."'] However, in most cases the Blessing ceremony is not a legal weddingceremony. Some couples are already married and those that are engaged are later legally married according to the laws of their own countries.
Blessing extended to non-members
The 1990s saw a big change when Rev. Moon allowed the Blessing to be given to other people besides Unification Church members. This liberalization led to a great increase in the number of Blessed couples, with most of them having been already married and not Unification Church members. It is possible for any Blessed couple to give the Blessing to other couples and this is being done in many cases by ministers of other churches who have received the Blessing though their association with the Unification Church. Ministers of other faiths, including
Judaismand Islamhave served as "co-officiators" at Blessing ceremonies presided over by Rev. and Mrs. Moon. [ [http://www.cesnur.org/testi/moon_1199.htm From the Unification Church to the Unification Movement, 1994-1999: Five Years of Dramatic Changes] Massimo Introvigne, Center for Studies on New Religions"The ceremony in Washington, D.C., included six "co-officiators" from other faiths, including controversial minister Louis Farrakhan from the Nation of Islam. The Blessing ceremony in Seoul on February 7, 1999 also featured seven co-officiators including Orthodox Rabbi Virgil Kranz (Chairman of the American Jewish Assembly), controversial Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and the General Superintendent of the Church of God in Christ (a large African American Pentecostal denomination), Rev. T.L. Barrett."]
In 1997 Rev. and Mrs. Moon presided over a Blessing ceremony in
Washington D. C.in which 28,000 of the 30,000 couples taking part were previously married. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1997/unification_church/34821.stm Mass Moonie Marriage in the US] ] In 2001 Roman CatholicArchbishop Emmanuel Milingomarried Maria Sung, a Korean acupuncturist, in a Blessing ceremony presided over by Rev. and Mrs. Moon. In the same ceremony George Augustus Stallings, founder of the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation, married Sayomi Kamimoto, a Japanese Unification Church member. [ [http://www.cesnur.org/2001/moon_may05.htm "Maverick Catholic Archbishop Married by Rev. Moon"] ] At the same ceremony was Minister Benjamin Muhammad, the national director of the Million Man Marchand the Million Family Marchand a representative of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. [ [http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8013_3.html Archbishop Faces Excommunication After Marrying] Beliefnet.com] Former Ugandan President Godfrey Binaisamarried a young Japanese woman by the Blessing ceremony in 2004. At that time, Godfrey was 84 years old. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3531260.stm Ex-Uganda leader weds by satellite] , BBC News]
The Blessing has five steps: [ [http://www.unification.org/intro_blessing.html Introduction to the Blessing Ceremony] Offical website of the United States Unification Church.]
#The Chastening Ceremony. The couple strike each other three times to symbolically make an end to sin and prepare for a new beginning.
#The Holy Wine Ceremony. The couple share a cup of Holy Wine (or grape juice) symbolizing their engrafting into God’s sinless lineage.
#The Holy Blessing Ceremony. The couple exchange vows. A prayer is offered by the officiators. The couple is sprinkled with Holy Water.
#The Separation Period. The couple refrains from having sexual relations for a period, most often 40 days but in some cases much longer, before consummating, or re-consummating, their marriage.
#The Three Day Ceremony. The couple begins, or re-begins, their married life in a highly symbolic ceremony over three days which is considered to reverse the fall of Adam and Eve.
Couples taking part in Blessing ceremonies exchange these four vows: [Massimo Introvigne, [http://www.cesnur.org/testi/moon_1199.htm From the Unification Church to the Unification Movement, 1994-1999: Five Years of Dramatic Changes] , 1999,
Center for Studies on New Religions]
#To become a true man or woman who practices sexual purity and lives for the sake of others;
#To become a true husband or wife who respects True Parents' example and establishes an eternal family which brings joy to God;
#To become a parent who educates their children to follow the tradition of true love for the sake of the family and world; and
#To create an ideal family which contributes to world peace.
Members of some churches have expressed concerns that people of their churches taking part in Blessing ceremonies might join the Unification Church. [ [http://www.signaturebooks.com/excerpts/unification.htm exerpt] The Unification ChurchStudies in Contemporary Religion, Massimo Introvigne, 2000, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, ISBN 1-56085-145-7 "From a different perspective, it is true that participation of people who are not members of the Unification Church in certain Unificationist activities, such as marriage blessings, may be of concern to established churches. They perceive the possibility that their own members may become confused by their participation in such Unificationist activities and fear that they may in fact end up converting to Unificationism." -p59-60] In 1998 journalist
Peter Maassreported that some Unification Church members were dismayed and grumbled when Moon extended the Blessing to non-members because they had not gone through the same course that members had. [ [http://www.petermaass.com/core.cfm?p=1&mag=48&magtype=1 Moon at Twilight] , Peter Maass, " The New Yorker" "The campaign has dismayed some church members, because a blessing from Moon used to be a hard-won privilege, typically attained only after a person had joined the church, worked in it for several years, and agreed to marry someone--usually a stranger--selected by Moon. But grumblings about the blessing campaign are just the beginning of Moon's current troubles."]
* [http://www.unification.org/intro_blessing.html Article on the Blessing from an official church website.]
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