- - Sunday, March 25, 2012

An estimated 2,500 couples from more than 50 countries exchanged or reaffirmed wedding vows Saturday in a Unification Church ceremony held before more than 15,000 spectators in a stadium in Gapeyeong, South Korea.

The church’s founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, presided over the event, blessing the couples in the stadium, about 50 miles northeast of Seoul, and another 2,700 who participated over the Internet, including 40 couples in Washington, according to a church spokesman.

Rev. Moon, 92, founded The Washington Times newspaper.

“This whole experience has been absolutely amazing. I mean really, really happy,” Chouchane Saemie of Britain told Reuters news agency.

“The mass wedding leads all mankind to be one, removing the boundaries of ethnicities, religious and nationalities,” senior South Korean church official Seuk Joon-ho told the news service. “Our goal is making the world peaceful with forming new families.”

Rev. Moon founded the church, officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, in 1954.

The Washington couples joined in the ceremonies with a banquet at the Unification Church of Washington, hosted by the Rev. Zagery Oliver, the church’s pastor, and his wife, Fumi.

Three other U.S. cities — New York and San Leandro and Pasadena, Calif. — also had couples participating in the event.

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