The Words of the Hanna Family

Pioneers Spread New Church Word - Interview of Nancy Callahan [Hanna]

Ralph Rath
March 12, 1972
Oakland Tribune Religion Writer

Nancy Callahan is articulate, charming, vivacious and a pioneer. In two weeks she will be one of a group of 80 young members of the Unification Church who will set up centers in each of the 50 states and who will staff a bus tour on the West Coast and one on the East Coast to tell America about the key role they see the country must play in this special time in human history. In this endeavor; they refer to themselves as pioneers.

"America has been blessed by God with material wealth," Miss Callahan explained. "America must use its knowledge and its wealth to serve the other nations so that they will be able to participate in a new growth of life with God," the youthful pioneer feels.

The Unification followers hope to unite Catholic, Protestant and Jewish groups in this country to form a foundation for a world civilization.

Nancy Callahan finds significance in a speech the former secretary general of the United Nations, U Thant, gave in New York several weeks ago. She recalls he said the world had one hope for peace -- if a world religion could spring up.

"The Unification Church provides the understanding that can be the base for that world religion," she feels.

With advances in communications and transportation, the world is becoming a global village. She also thinks a worldwide common market is on its way. "This kind of interrelatedness can lead to either integration or it can lead to a greater conflict," she said, adding that integration pre-supposes a unifying set of beliefs and values.

The founder of the Unification Church, Sun Myung Moon of South Korea, is currently winding up a two-month tour of the United States with a revival in Berkeley this weekend.

Moon, 52, a Seoul businessman, was born in North Korea. Church sources say he was imprisoned and tortured by the Communists there for three years; he escaped when the prison camp was shelled by U.N. troops in 1950 on the day before he was to be executed.

He fled to South Korea where he established his church in 1954. It spread rapidly in many Oriental countries and now numbers more than a half million followers.

Nancy Callahan heard about the Unification Church when she was a student at the University of California, Berkeley.

A Roman Catholic and a 1967 graduate of Holy Name High School in Oakland, she was enrolled in a great books, integrated arts program her first two years at U.C. One of her friends was a member of the Unification community and lived at the church center, 1727 Euclid Ave., three blocks from the U.C. campus.

Though she comes from a strong Catholic background, Miss Callahan said she wasn't practicing her faith as a U.C. undergraduate because she didn't find the church relevant. She wasn't interested in religious matters at the time, she said, but was interested in finding out the truth.

For her junior year she went to England to the University of Sussex through the U.C. exchange program. Being in a foreign culture away from familiar ties prompted her to do some deep thinking.

"I came to realize that the essence of life had to do with questions that religions answer," she said. 1 really woke up intellectually and spiritually."

She came back for her senior year at U.C. "looking for a way to grow close to God by going beyond just intellectually accepting Catholicism and Christianity" by living these teachings.

Gradually she felt drawn to the Unification Church and its Berkeley center where between 30 an,) 40 young people live together. She joined the community in December of 1970.

She compares the life at the center to that of a religious order.

The members work together, pray together, and learn how to run a community house.

Members learn how to relate vertically to God and horizontally to brothers and sisters, Miss Callahan said. Some are students, others work in such community-run projects as a printing plant, and others work at outside jobs. Most voluntarily give a major portion of their earnings to the community, she said. "Our group has people from very strong Catholic, Protestant, Jewish backgrounds," she said. "We have adamant atheists with scientific backgrounds and Hindus, Buddhists, Confucianists and Taoists. There are black, white, yellow right here in this house."

She sees the center as a microcosm of what can happen in the world if men can learn to live and work together. But living as a family entails. more than goodwill, she feels. Men must be united deeply in values and beliefs.

The Unification Church looks beyond current ecumenical efforts between Catholic and Protestant churches and beyond mutual understandings between Eastern and Western religions.

The Unification teachings call for an individual to attain a direct relationship with God without such intermediaries as priests, rabbis or ministers. This can only be done after the individual has developed a deeper understanding of God and of man's relationship to Him through careful study of Principles drawn up by the Church's founder, Moon.

The basic tenets of the Divine Principle, as the core body of knowledge is called, are imparted through a series of four lectures offered at the centers.

Though rather difficult to explain in a sentence or two, the Principle revolves around reconciling matter (man's body, science) and spirit (man's soul, religion). The time for churches is ending, according to Unification teachings. "Men in their hearts are ready, because of spiritual evolution, to have a direct relationship with God and not relate to Him through a church," Miss Callahan explained.

The Unification Church, she went on, strongly supports God-centered marriages because "it is within that unit that man can most fully experience and express love."

"Children's love and parents' love and conjugal love are three types of love that God feels and wants man also to experience."

The Unification Church is strongly anti-Communist, she said, because in this transition time when old churches are breaking up there is a vacuum on which Marxists are capitalizing. But unlike other anti-Communist groups, the Unification movement provides an alternative ideology, she said.

Whereas Marxists talk of change through conflict, Unification doctrine talks of change through a deep, harmonious exchange. "We have to understand the process we must go through to change our own hearts," Miss Callahan said, "so that we will be as individuals without conflict able to work and grow to our full potential."

"Then we can create families, nations and a world that can work and grow in full co-operation." 

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