Father and Mother Moon fill Madison Square Garden for 1998 Blessing
Congratulations to all the couples who participated in the 1998 Blessing of Marriage in Madison Square Garden, New York, and at other locations, 13th June 1998 – 25 years ago. Father and Mother Moon officiated at the ceremony. Other religious leaders also gave their blessings on the couples.
This was the third time Father and Mother Moon had filled the Madison Square Garden. They held a large mass wedding there for 2,075 couples in 1982. Before that, in 1974 Sun Myung Moon spoke there to an audience of 25,000 as part of an 8-city speaking tour throughout the USA.
For the 1998 Blessing, according to the organisers, 523 buses helped to bring the 20,000 participants to the large indoor stadium in New York City. The Marriage Blessing event was preceded by a Pro-Family Rally with Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, senior pastor of the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, New York as keynote speaker.
21 “Blessing 98 Family Awards” were presented, honouring individuals who had shown outstanding leadership in their churches and communities, affirming true family values. A 2000-voice choir with singers from 75 different churches performed.
The main Marriage Blessing event represented the very culmination of a worldwide campaign to give marriage the central place in our lives that it deserves. Many of the couples blessed by Father and Mother Moon on this occasion came from other religions or beliefs.
They had all been “pre-blessed” and had declared their agreement to base their marriage on true love, God’s ideal, faithfulness to each other, raising the children to abstain from pre-marital sex, contributing as a family to world peace. Members of the Family Federation had gone from door to door all over the world and given “pre-blessings” in the form of holy wine and holy water to couples who wanted a new start in their marriage. This was a large campaign at the time, also in most European countries. However, such couples were not fully blessed without the True Parents‘ Blessing prayer at the main ceremony on 13th June 1998.
“As heaven and Earth are watching, may God’s eternal blessing be abundantly bestowed upon all the Blessed couples and the people of the world through this holy Marriage Blessing ceremony given by God and True Parents.”
All the couples shouted a loud “Yes, I do!” to the vows read out by Father Moon,
- Do you as mature men and women who are to consummate the ideal of the creation of God, pledge to become an eternal husband and wife?
- Do you pledge that you shall become a true husband and wife, and raise your children to live up to the will of God, and educate them to become responsible leaders in front of the Unification Family, all humanity and God Almighty?
- Do you pledge that, centering upon True Parents, you shall inherit the tradition of the Unification Family, and pass this proud tradition down to the future generations of the Unification Family and to all humankind?
- Do you pledge that, centering upon the ideal of creation, you will inherit the will of God and the True Parents, establishing God’s traditions of the four great realms of heart and the three great kingships and loving the people of the world as God and True Parents do, and ultimately will consummate the ideal family, which is the building block of the Kingdom of God on earth and in Heaven?
There was a satellite hookup to the rest of the world, including large events with thousands of participants in Seoul, Tokyo, Ivory Coast, Sao Paulo and other locations.
Here in Europe, the main event was held in Bratislava, Slovakia. It was led by the head of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Europe, Kwang-kee Sa and his wife. They led the European movement from 1993 to 2003.
As mentioned, there were leaders from other religions giving their benediction to the couples. Sri Shrivatsa Goswami from India represented Hinduism, Rabbi Herzel Kranz from Maryland Judaism, the Venerable Seol-jeong Jeon from South Korea Buddhism, Archimandrite Vyacheslav Petrovich Miskov from the Ukraine Orthodox Christianity, Professor Paul Swanson from Chicago Lutheran Christianity, Dr. Hycel Taylor from Illinois Baptist Christianity, Sri Sarabjit Singh Gobindpuri from the USA Sikhism, Grand Mufti Cheikh Becaye Kounta from Senegal Islam.
There were congratulatory addresses by Dr. Aziz Sedki (1920-2008), Prime Minister of Egypt 1972-1973, and Kenneth Kaunda (1924-2021), the first President of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. He said, “We are all human beings, beyond colour or religion. We have come here from all points to hear your powerful message of true family love, Rev. Moon, and we thank the Lord for this example.”
One revolutionary new aspect of the 1998 Blessing was that it included persons in the spirit world. Since Father Moon had his truly life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ in 1935, he communicated extensively with saints and others in the hereafter.
Based on that, it was decided to hold a “physical and spiritual world ceremony”, presided over by International Director of Education of the Family Federation at the time, Cheong-hwan Kwak, and his wife. He declared that along with the couples in the stadium, also couples in the spirit world would be included in the 1998 Blessing. That would help to bring down existing barriers in the eternal world, including the “wall of hell”. Thus, many couples – invisible to us – received the Marriage Blessing that day.
Text: Knut Holdhus