Birthday Celebration Honoring Rev. Moon Draws Unification Church Faithful and Friends

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110207.moon.bday.jpgKodiak City Mayor Carolyn Floyd helps cut into a birthday cake in honor of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon whose Unification Church has a considerable presence in the community. Jacob Resneck/KMXT photo

Jacob Resneck/KMXT

A gathering of Unification Church faithful observed their founder’s birthday yesterday. The religious sect has had a presence in Kodiak since opening International Seafoods in 1978. Today the congregation includes about 25 families who own a number of high profile businesses including the Old Powerhouse Restaurant where about 60-odd members and non-members gathered last night and reflected on the church’s 30-plus years in Kodiak. KMXT’s Jacob Resneck reports.

— rev moon birthday pkg 3:50 "The Unification … I’m Jacob Resneck."

The Unification Church’s arrival in Kodiak more than 30 years ago wasn’t initially welcomed by some who feared the church’s reputation of cultish behavior. Stories of arranged marriages and mass weddings had caused accusations of mind control to be levied against the organization.

But it’s a different scene today in Kodiak. Members here have become well integrated into this tight-knit community, said Debbie Nielsen, one of several non-members invited to speak last night.

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The term "Moonies" is derived from its Korean-born founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Some consider the term derogatory, though that depends on the context, explains Chris Fiala who joined the church in 1975.

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— amb Korean girls

On display last night was cross-cultural talent with young girls singing traditional Korean songs accompanied by Fiala on guitar.

Kodiak has come a long way with city Mayor Carolyn Floyd helping cut the birthday cake as the crowd celebrated Rev. Moon’s birthday.

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amb – documentary

A 15-minute minute documentary was shown about Rev. Moon’s life from his upbringing in war-torn Korea up through his imprisonment in the United States for tax evasion in the 1980s.

Fiala says Rev. Moon purposefully courts controversy.

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Church member David Cooper says that the religion’s association with Kodiak has boosted the island’s profile internationally. He predicted that one day church pilgrims would flock here after their founder passes.

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The Unification Church’s business holdings are vast and include heavy industry in North and South Korea, real estate holdings in numerous countries and media outlets including the Washington Times newspaper. In Kodiak there are direct ties to at least one hotel, restaurant and International Seafoods, making the church one of the largest private employers in Kodiak.

I’m Jacob Resneck

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