Funeral for Rev. Moon a time of reflection for church

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    Looking ahead

    Church officials have expressed quiet optimism that the religious movement built by Rev. Moon will survive the passing of its charismatic founder. They said in interviews last week that the founder’s extended illness, and the anointing of his two sons to carry on his work, will ease a difficult transition period.

    Bo Hi Pak, who worked beside and translated for Rev. Moon for more than a half-century, expressed optimism in an interview that the church could handle the difficult transition period.

    “Rev. Moon’s teachings were completely recorded. We know what he left us as a spiritual will,” said Mr. Pak, who was the first president and chairman of The Washington Times when it was founded in 1982.

    “Mrs. Moon will be our leader from now on and she has essentially been in training for this mission by Rev. Moon for 50 years. I really believe the church is going to grow in leaps and bounds after this.”

    But one discordant note from the ceremony was the glaring absence of Hyun Jin “Preston” Moon, Rev. Moon’s oldest surviving son, who has been involved in a protracted feud with other members of the family over control of the church and the disposition of its commercial assets.

    In a statement released through his Global Peace Foundation last week, Preston Moon, 43, laid the blame for divisions in the family over the future of the church on his brothers, announcing he would hold a separate memorial service for his father at a later date in the United States.

    “I am now walking a separate path and have no part in any ‘succession struggle’ within the Unification movement,” he added. “I shall continue to use the resources available to me to further that work.”

    A chance to celebrate

    Mourners here seemed solemn but not downcast in the week of observances and preparation culminating in Saturday’s ceremony. While the church founded by Rev. Moon in 1954 now faces a time of unprecedented transition, many said they believed Saturday’s ceremony marked an opportunity to celebrate a long life of accomplishment.

    Kenneth Read and Jeff Bateman, both from Britain, stood quietly, collecting their thoughts.

    “So many people, and everyone coming from all over the world, from different faiths, different walks of life. It was really beautiful,” Mr. Read said.

    “For me, it’s a gathering of those who loved him,” said Mr. Bateman, who met Rev. Moon 37 years ago and had difficulty quelling his tears. “This was like a royal occasion and a deserving one.”

    “I feel an era has passed, and I missed an opportunity to do even more,” said Edmond Young, a Canadian who came to the Unification Church in the late 1970s and later had chances to go fishing with Rev. Moon. “I think many people will have many tears when they hear and understand his life.”

    “There’s really no reason to be downcast, when you take in the entire scope of his life,” said Elder Hudson W. Griffith, who worked with Rev. Moon and the Unification Church on ecumenical outreach through his HWG Ministry for Change in Henderson, Nev.

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    About the Author
    David R. Sands

    David R. Sands

    Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.

    At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...

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    Cheryl Wetzstein

    Cheryl Wetzstein

    Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

    Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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