Winston-Salem Greensboro High Point

March 15, 2001, Thursday

Moon to headline unity conference

Winston-Salem only N.C. city
on reverend's 50-city tour

By T. Kevin Walker, THE CHRONICLE

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon is slated to make an appearance here early next month as part of a 50-state tour to unite families and people of various religious denominations.

The "We Stand Together! Tour" is part brainchild of Moon's Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Church, a sometimes criticized sect Moon founded.

The tour has been billed as a celebration of faith and a call for reconciliation. It has been endorsed by an impressive list of religious leaders, of many different denominations, from across the country. Winston-Salem will be the tour's only stop in the state.

Local religious leaders like the Rev. Seth O. Lartey of Goler Memorial AME Zion Church: the Rev. Fermin Bocanegra of Iglesia Cristiana Wesleyana; The Rev. James Fullwood of Saint Mark Baptist Church; and Min. Mikal Muhammad of the local Nation of Islam Mosque have endorsed the tour and are taking active parts in promoting it.

"We have different religions, but we all serve God.... This can help dispel the myth that we should be different because of our various visions," Muhammad said.

The Nation of Islam and Moon's Unification Church are no strangers to one another. Moon's church helped with last year's Million Family March. Moon also was a major sponsor of Louis Farrakhan during a recent world tour that took the Nation of Islam leader to several countries.

Muhammad said the union between the Nation and Moon's group has helped the two organizations in the dual missions to strengthen families. Muhammad added that the "We Stand Together!" tour is along the same lines as the Million Family March initiative, which also called for families to come together and for faith-based organizations to step up to help
shape community.

In a letter to fellow clergy people urging them to be a part of the tour, the Rev. Joseph Paige, pastor of Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church in Bunn and the former president and dean of Shaw Divinity School, called the tour "Godism is action."

"It is a collaborative, God-inspired partnership between the leadership churches of God and
the people to call attention to create and promote programs and activities aimed at empowering churches, families and communities to stand together, and work together for the good of God and America," said Paige, who is also a member of the American Clergy Leadership Conference.

A representative of Moon has already set up shop in anticipation of Moon's appearance April 2. The Rev. David Reed could not be reached before press time.

Moon is perhaps best known for the mass wedding ceremonies he has performed around the world over the years. Moon's church has been called a cult by some, including some former members of the church.

Devoted members of Moon's church insist that the church and its founder have simply been misunderstood by the public at large.

Muhammad said he is not concerned about controversy over Moon overshadowing the event. Often people who try to evoke change without the help of the government or other high profile organizations are labeled as controversial and out of the loop, Muhammad said.

"People who are trying to bridge understanding between people are often misunderstood," Muhammad said.