Response to “Sanctuary Church Schismatics” by Michael Mickler

Response to “Sanctuary Church Schismatics” by Michael Mickler


Response to “Sanctuary Church Schismatics” by Michael Mickler

by Kerry Williams

Dear Michael,

It seems like just yesterday we were sitting in the faculty dining room at UTS with President David S.C. Kim during one of his many breakfast meetings with us core staff members.  I miss those times with our dear Grandpa Kim.

I believe we can agree there is a lot at stake right now.  Both Sanctuary Church and FFWPU claim they are the true inheritors of Reverend Moon’s messianic mission. It is patently clear only one organization can legitimately possess that title.  Although this present struggle is taking place with just a tiny fraction of the world’s population, I believe the decisions we make on this issue will have cosmic reverberations for generations to come.

Before I am accused of being under the spell of yet another charismatic leader, let me say that it has been a lengthy process to come to my own conclusions regarding the issues you address in your essay “Sanctuary Church Schismatics.” I have spent over two years studying, discussing, and praying about this tragic situation.  Ongoing debates with FFWPU members remind me of Christians who focus only on the Bible passages which support their point of view.  If ever there was a time to deeply research a topic while holding one’s biases in abeyance, it is now.  In this time of judgment we are all being pressed by Heaven to make a decision where we stand.

There are two people at the core of this controversy:  Hyung Jin Moon and Hak Ja Han.  Which one is united with Father?  This is the question that must be correctly answered to truly understand the heartbreaking division between them. Good objective historians focus on gathering information whenever possible from primary sources, recognizing that only primary sources provide unfiltered access to the past events they are studying. I doubt you will gain a personal audience with Hak Ja Han.  But I am frankly perplexed that you have not provided firsthand accounts of the opinions and actions of Pastor Moon.  It is not hard at all to gain an audience with him. He usually spends hours every Sunday after service, conversing with anyone who sits down with him at the lunch table.
In addition, you are within easy driving distance from Sanctuary Church.

Common sense tells us that by looking at multiple perspectives, we are in a better position to discern factoid from fact.  I have listened to every sermon given by Pastor Moon since he began his ministry in Pennsylvania, and also listened to every available speech of Hak Ja Han and her supporters since the passing of Reverend Moon.  I have talked at great length with many people on both sides of this issue, including those who represent primary and secondary sources.  And I also continue to study the scriptures with a renewed thirst for the living word of God.

There is ample evidence in your essay that you have not maintained an objective attitude in making your observations.  For example, your choice of the word “poaching” to describe Sanctuary Church outreach is unsubstantiated and slanderous.  While this objection may appear petty, the implication of unethical conduct is not a small matter.  Where is the proof of dishonorable behavior in witnessing?  I will gladly share our “recruitment” strategies:  Hyung Jin unapologetically testifies to Jesus and the returning Christ week after week with complete sincerity, and is giving everyone who listens the freedom to choose whether or not they wish to support him.  He is proudly preserving the words and traditions of our Father.  Sanctuary Church members have created a website and church Facebook page which contain important information.  Some members have decided to start their own Facebook pages.  We meet and fellowship together in Christ-centered
small groups.  Please tell me which of those actions constitutes poaching.

Using phrases such as “a wilderness mentality took hold” (after moving to Pennsylvania) to describe our pastor’s frame of mind suggests that he has a weak intellect which is easily dominated by his environment.  Definitions of “wilderness mentality” range from disordered thinking to wrong mindset.  Where is your evidence there is anything wrong with his mindset?  Father warned against such condescending attitudes as yours when he said:

My youngest son Hyungjin wanted to get a doctorate from Harvard and in the process he learned to read books in eight languages.  So don’t look down on him.  He truly invested himself in his studies.  When his older brother Youngjin passed away, Hyungjin determined to accomplish the things that his brother had intended to accomplish.  Over the course of seven years he did all sorts of things, even at the risk of his life in order to fulfill this goal.
(Owner of Peace, Owner of Lineage, p. 37).

Could your demeaning characterization come from the fact that you simply don’t like
or agree with what he is saying?

In your brief essay there are a number of other errors/biases such as:

  • Portraying the origin of the schism simply as Hyung Jin “refusing the request of his mother, Hak Ja Han Moon.”  You neglect to mention that after Father’s passing, Mother gathered the Korean leaders together and instructed them to change the church by‑laws so that Hyung Jin could be fired.  Which they did. (1) He was then told by Mother to go to America and not come back to Korea for three years. Three months later he was unceremoniously relieved of his duties as President of the American church. (2) It was then that he “relocated to Pennsylvania.”

  1. Conversation with Tim Elder, September 2014.  Conversation with Hyung Jin Moon, Winter 2014.
  2. “Yeonah Nim: The Unknown Story–Part 2 Interview.”  Video interview published on November 6, 2015 viewable at


  • Presenting the Sanctuary Church definition of God as a “wholly patriarchal deity.”
    This is inaccurate. To believe that God is in the masculine subject position to humankind is not to deny that God possesses feminine characteristics.

  • The over-simplified depiction of Bridegroom theology.  Your portrayal is external
    and lacks heart.  I recommend you study and pray over Pastor Moon’s sermons
    “The Bride of Christ” (5/3/15) and “Putting on Christ” (5/10/15) to place his words in their appropriate context.  I will not argue that it would indeed have been preferable if every woman could have directly received the sinless seed of God from his only‑begotten son.  What woman in her right mind wants the tainted seed of the archangel?  A more accurate portrayal would have striven to echo the sentiment expressed by the returning Messiah when he said:

You must center on Father more than on any other man in this world. You would see the reality of this if you could look through the spirit world. Unification Church women who are not like that are far away from being true members. I am in the position of father, older brother and, in a spiritual sense, bridegroom to you.
(Blessing and Ideal Family, p. 483)

  • Reframing Hyung Jin’s obedience to Father’s direction “not to touch his words”
    as textual literalism (it smacks of ivory tower condescension).

  • Doubting the authenticity of the Messiah’s investiture of his successor, heir and physical representative on earth (4) by placing the word “crowning” in quotes.

  • Neglecting to state that it is True Parents, not Sanctuary Church, who first proclaimed that Hyung Jin Moon has inherited “the authority of the True Parents on earth.” (5)