NEWS RELEASE
American Clergy Leadership Conference

For Immediate Release

February 28, 2001

Contact:

Bill Reed (202) 547-4125
Rev. Phillip Schanker (202) 365-0219

Diverse Clergy Stand United With
Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Family Initiative

Chicago, IL - An interdenominational, interracial group of ministers today reaffirmed their commitment to support the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's initiative to rebuild America's families. The ministers also dismissed controversy raised by media criticism of their alliance with Moon. "This is not about the man, its about the mission. We're not getting caught up in a personality, we're caught up in a common cause," said Rev. George Stallings, Archbishop of the Imani Temple African American Catholic Congregation in Washington, DC.

The group, comprised of many nationally renowned clergy members, has set aside their doctrinal and ideological differences, to bring the faith community together within urban America through a 51-day, 50 state tour called "We Will Stand". The tour is designed to highlight the need for all people of faith to unite and tear down the walls of race and denomination. "The reason I like Rev. Moon is that he brings black, white, yellow and brown together," noted Rev. A.I. Dunlap, pastor of Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church in Chicago, Illinois. Rev. Billy McCormack, founding board member of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition added, "None of us will ever agree completely on doctrinal issues. So we must rise above our doctrines and unite upon this one fundamental issue: the rebuilding of the family in the United States of America."

More than 3,500 clergy and faithful attended the New York launch of the tour at the Bronx's Garden of Prayer Church of God in Christ in the Bronx. Stops in New Jersey and Connecticut attracted crowds estimated in excess of 2,500. On the tour's fourth night more than 3,000 overflowed the Life Center Church of God in Christ on Chicago's South Side, according to the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune. The tour proceeds to Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and ultimately all 50 states. The energetic and controversial Korean evangelist is the keynote speaker at each event.

Upon Rev. Moon's arrival in the United States nearly 30 years ago, mainstream religious leaders initially viewed the eager response of American youth to his message with concern and suspicion. Ironically, however, it was opposition and persecution that began to garner support for Rev. Moon from various corners of the religious community. Civil rights veteran Rev. Charles Kenyatta, pastor of Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church, said, "I can identify with Rev. Sun Myung Moon. We both have had the misfortune of being persecuted and tortured." Kenyatta, a former bodyguard for Malcolm X, added, "I know how he got here, and I want him to know that his time has come." Among the many civil rights pioneers who support the tour are several who were mentored and trained by Dr. Martin Luther King: Rev. Walter Fauntroy of Washington, DC, Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker of Harlem, NY, Dr. Milton Reid of Norfolk, Va. and Rev. James Bevel of Chicago, Il.

Organizers have emphasized that the tour is not about any one theology or denomination, but about the urgent need to unite the faith community as one body in order to stand against the moral decline of America. Rev. Jesse Edwards, President of the United Pentecostals of Philadelphia explained, "AIDS does not discriminate by race or religion. Drugs, crime, and family breakdown know no race or denomination. We must come together beyond our differences, if we are to confront these evils effectively." Noting the strong response of the minority community to Rev. Moon's message, Dr. Hycel B. Taylor of Evanston Illinois' Second Baptist Church added, "These issues are significant and extremely important to the African-American community."

The American Clergy Leadership Conference, one of the 50-state tour's sponsors, envisions it as the next step in the historic unity forged at the Million Family March on October 16th, 2000. Minister Louis Farrakhan, convener of the March last fall, called for a "Million Family Movement" to be launched. Rev. Moon's Family Federation for World Peace was a major co-sponsor of the Million Family March. March director Minister Benjamin Muhammad will join Rev. Moon at various points on the tour, and the Nation of Islam is supporting the "We Will Stand!" tour nationwide. Others see this nationwide effort as a multi-religious response to the White House's call for the faith community to take a leading role in the renewal of America. Several of the 50 cities will include a training seminar for faith-based organizations.


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