The Words of the Garratt Family

World Culture And Sports Festival

International Media Relations Office Seoul, Korea

For release: August 16, 1995
Contact: Joy Garrat
Tel: 82-2-792-7300 ext 217 / 218
Fax: 82-2-792-7305

360,000 Couples To Marry Or Renew Wedding Vows In Seoul And International Sites On August 25th

Seoul, Korea. - On August 25, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon will bless the marriages of more than 360,000 couples, including newlyweds and couples renewing their wedding vows. The inter-religious and international ceremony will take place not only at Seoul's Olympic Stadium at 11:00am but also will be conducted by satellite transmission in countries on every continent.

Of the couples participating in the wedding, about 25,000 will join Rev. and Mrs. Moon in the main ceremony at Olympic Stadium. The remainder will be blessed in marriage via direct or indirect satellite transmissions. Satellite ceremonies will vary in size from a few couples in more isolated areas to 50,000 couples in more populous countries.

The 360,000 Couples International Holy Wedding is the central event of the 2nd World Culture and Sports Festival, first held in 1992. This year's festival, scheduled from August 20 to 27, will include a series of conferences convening leaders in the fields of religion, science and philosophy, diplomacy and government, and the media. There will be an international convention of the Women's Federation for World Peace and an international students' convention and sports competition as well.

Rev. and Mrs. Moon are well-known for large international weddings. In 1992, thirty thousand (30,000) couples were blessed by them in rites also held at Olympic Stadium. The broader significance of the upcoming blessing ceremony is it's inter-religious dimension. Until 1992, almost all blessings, or marriage ceremonies, officiated by Rev. and Mrs. Moon were those among Unificationists. However, based on their life-long commitment to inter-religious harmony, Rev. and Mrs. Moon are now extending an invitation to participate in the Blessing to people of all religious persuasions. Thus, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and many others will be participating.

For single Unificationists, who may request to be matched by Rev. and Mrs. Moon, and for engaged couples of any faith, the Blessing will be a marriage ceremony. For previously married couples of any faith, the Blessing will be both a blessing of their existing marriage and a public expression of their commitment to God, humanity and to each other.

It is a central teaching of Rev. and Mrs. Moon that true love can be most fully realized in a family in which God's love abides. If the ideal of the family can be re-established, then eventually world peace can be achieved. The shared experience of Blessing '95 for all 360,000 couples is to foster not only healthy individual families, but a global community promoting the ideals of love and peace.

Rev. and Mrs. Moon understand that they have been called by God to promote world peace through the establishment of God-centered marriages and families of true and everlasting love.

Round-the-world wedding unites over 400,000 couples The Washington Times: From combined dispatches

SEOUL - The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the king of matchmakers, eclipsed his record for big numbers here yesterday when he and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, presided over a "holy wedding ceremony" in which more than 400,000 couples, many of them members of other religious denominations, exchanged or renewed their vows in ceremonies in 160 nations connected by satellite or other electronic links.

Thirty-six thousand couples, in traditional bridal gowns and dark suits., exchanged marriage vows in Seoul's Olympic Stadium, which was soaked by three days of torrential rains that had caused the Han River to flow over its banks and inundate many streets of the Korean capital. Floods and mudslides killed 21 persons in Seoul.

"The rain will not stop the ceremony," a church official told Reuters news agency before the ceremony, as gloom embraced the city. ,,we will think of God sprinkling holy water on the ceremony."

The rain stopped just as Reverend Mrs. Moon stepped up to preside over the recitation of the vows by the couples, arranged in mathematical precision around the expanse of lush turf, their rain slickers splashes of pink, blue, yellow and white against a sea of soggy parents, friends, co-religionists and other well wishers. When the ceremony ended an hour and 25 minutes later, a steady warm rain pelted the stadium again.

Thousands of balloons soared upward, dozens of rockets wrote smoky trails across the leaden sky, workmen got a hot-air balloon aloft with difficulty, trailing an enormous waterlogged banner proclaiming the wedding day, and the traditional wedding recessional boomed across the stadium from several giant speakers.

The bridal couples shook hands; a few bravely stole the traditional wedding kiss. Many had met each other only days before; for some, at an airport greeting. "I was meeting someone that God had prepared for me," Brandon Oliva, 23, a San Francisco fisherman, told the Associated Press of his airport meeting with Iroko Izumi, 25, of Japan. "I'll remember this day for the rest of my life' "

Rev. Moon, draped in a flowing white robe and wearing a gold and-white crown, saluted them as "champions of world peace, through establishing ideal families" About 20,000 couples were matches of Koreans and Japanese, which their leader sees as a means of breaking down misunderstanding and ill will of centuries standing between the two nations.

Participants receiving the blessing included a Russian Orthodox priest, a Buddhist monk, a Baptist pastor from Chicago's West Side and a Greek newspaper editor. They ranged from 18 to 70 years old. The wedding ceremony has no standing in law, and couples who exchanged vows must arrange for civil ceremonies later, but the exchange of vows is regarded as morally if not legally binding. In Washington, 74 couples exchanged vows at the Unification church.

Elsewhere across the globe, couples exchanged vows, or in many cases repeated them, in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic and Japanese. The collective "blessing" of marriages, part of Rev. Moon's ministry since 1960, was for the first time expanded to include couples not of the Unification Church faith. Church officials said that participants receiving the "blessing" included traditional Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist believers, among others.

"The blessing isn't about changing your religion," said Tyler Hendricks, president of the Unification Church in the United States, "but about changing your character."

The matches, made by Rev. and Mrs. Moon with the aid of a computer program that selects candidates for preliminary match ups according to data describing each person, must be accepted by the couples, and usually are, according to church officials. But not always. One 29- year-old woman, for example, declined to be matched with a man of 47 because she regarded him as too old. Another woman declined a match with a bridegroom with a teen-age son.

According to church officials, each participant contributes an 8by-10- inch photograph and completes a questionnaire detailing his or her age, condition of health, physical characteristics and preferences. Education is taken into account. In general, an applicant with a grade-school education will not be matched with a mate who has gone beyond high school; a high-school graduate will usually not be matched with a spouse with advanced university degrees.

The personal information and photograph of each applicant, along with a mailing address and a telephone number, are sent to the prospective spouse. The match is complete when both partners "on the basis of prayer and communication" - accept the match. Single members of the Unification Church usually request that Rev. Moon choose a spouse for them, church officials say, and since he founded his church in Korea in 1954, Rev. Moon, who is 75, has introduced and performed the marriage rites for about 100,000 members of the church.

Governments in several Third World countries cooperated with the ceremony this year, particularly in Africa, where some government officials regard the renewal of marriage vows as a public-health benefit. They say the ceremony may discourage sexual promiscuity and lessen the risk of spreading AIDS. Just over half of the 400,000 participating couples are Africans. In some communities, government officials assisted in establishing the electronic link; in Taiwan, a Cabinet minister encouraged participation.

The couples paid their own way to Seoul, and were expected to contribute to defraying the cost of the ceremony, with assessments ranging from $500 per person in Latin America to $2,000 in North America to $29,000 in Japan, where, church spokesmen note pointedly, middle-class couples often spend $100,000 on their weddings. Assessments were waived for African participants. "The Western membership, especially the church in Japan, is subsidizing [participants] in Africa and in the poorer countries," said a church spokesman.

In the days before the ceremony, couples taking the wedding vow participated in a communion wine ceremony. Juice was substituted in countries where alcoholic drink is prohibited or discouraged. Afterward, each spouse swatted the other on the backside with a flat stick, a rite marking "the end to old ways' " Married couples of other faiths, renewing vows, touched their wedding rings in the wine and exchanged their rings once more in the public ceremony.

The newlyweds introduced by Rev. and Mrs. Moon abstain from sexual relations for 40 days after their legal wedding, a period dedicated to establishing "a shared spiritual life' " Only then can they set up their own households.

The Seoul ceremony was part of the World Culture and Sports Festival, a week of international conferences on religious, civic and political topics.

*This dispatch includes material from Reuters and the Associated Press in Seoul, by Larry Witham of The Times in Washington, and other staff reports.

As it appeared at the bottom center of the front page.

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