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50 Years Since Great 21-City Speaking Tour

Father Moon during 21-city speaking tour, here at Carnegie Hall 1973

Father Moon’s 21-City speaking tour to proclaim a new message from God

Father Moon during 21-city speaking tour 1973/74
Father Moon during 21-city speaking tour 1973/74. Photo: FFWPU

It is 50 years since Father Moon’s legendary 21-city speaking tour in the USA from 1st October 1973 to 29th January 1974. The purpose of the tour was to proclaim a new message from God to humanity. At that time, Father Moon was primarily concerned with addressing the Christian world, and the theme was “Christianity in Crisis: New Hope”.

He spoke three evenings in each city and held these speeches: “God’s Hope for Man”, “God’s Hope for America” and “The Future of Christianity”. The 21 cities were New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, New Orleans, Dallas, Tampa, Atlanta, Omaha, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Tulsa, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Los Angeles.

Christianity in Crisis
The front cover of “Christianity in Crisis: New Hope” published in 1974 by HSA-UWC (Unification Church).

A book containing those three speeches, and with the same title as the speaking tour, was published in 1974. The text was a slightly edited transcript of the simultaneous translation by Bo Hi Pak.

In the middle of July 1973, many young members had come from Japan and Europe. They were organized as two large teams, each with 40 members. The teams then had campaigns in the cities where Sun Myung Moon was to speak. Gradually, even more, joined.

The tour got its own PR man and media spokesperson. The meetings were advertised in newspapers, on buses, and local trains. A large number of brochures were distributed in each city. The teams aimed to fill the hall every evening and to make Sun Myung Moon known. The tour was introduced to the authorities in each city. He was appointed an honorary citizen in many of the cities. Several mayors declared the days when he spoke in their city as “Days of Hope”. The first evening in each city a “Day of Hope banquet” was held with many VIPs present. There, these declarations from the local authorities were read out.

In New York, the first city of the 21-city tour, several hundred members worked for a month to prepare for the opening meeting in Carnegie Hall on October 1. The activities attracted media attention. Time, Newsweek, Christianity Today, and New York Daily News all had articles about the campaign. A large and quite positive article written by George W. Cornell, religion correspondent for Associated Press, was published in 79 newspapers across the country. 250 prominent New Yorkers attended the “Day of Hope banquet” at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. There, congratulatory telegrams were read out from the mayor of New York and several congress members and other celebrities.

In Washington DC, 400 VIPs attended the banquet, in San Francisco 500. In Atlanta, state governor Jimmy Carter declared 7th November 1973, “Day of Hope and Unity”. In Berkeley, California, The Daily Californian wrote that Moon’s followers had stood for one of the nicest and best-organized PR campaigns in the city for many years.

In the middle of the 21-city tour, on 18th December 1973, the seven children of Father and Mother Moon moved from South Korea to the USA. A property had been purchased for the family in Belvedere, New York, in October.

A new speaking tour, this time to 32 cities, was organized from 15th February to 20th April 1974. Sun Myung Moon spoke two evenings in each city. The first evening he gave a short speech at a banquet, the second evening a longer speech. The theme was “The New Future of Christianity”. In the speech, he urged everyone, especially Christians, to prepare to receive the Lord of the Second Coming. Thus, Father Moon had now spoken in all states of the USA.

The same year, from 15th May Dr. Bo Hi Pak embarked on a “Celebration of Life” speaking tour to ten cities in the USA. The tour was meant to prepare for Father Moon’s own tour to eight cities, from 17th September to 23rd December 1974. The eight cities were New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Father Moon speaking in Madison Square Garden 18th Sep 1974
Father Moon speaking in Madison Square Garden, New York 18th Sep. 1974. Photo: FFWPU

A packed Madison Square Garden for Sun Myung Moon

The opening city on the tour to eight cities was New York. There, Sun Myung Moon spoke in Madison Square Garden on 18th September in front of an audience of 25,000. There was not a single seat left. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 stood outside without getting in. Father Moon spoke about the purpose of the Second Coming. The media showed great interest in this meeting. Because of all these speaking tours, Sun Myung Moon’s name became known all over the USA.

Based on the progress in the USA and the positive reception he had received in this Christian country, Father Moon felt that there was hope for the world. He also gained new hope that the Christians in his own homeland would begin to cooperate with him.

Featured image above: Father Moon speaking at Carnegie Hall, New York 1st Oct. 1973. Photo: FFWPU

“50 Years Since Great 21-City Speaking Tour” – text: Knut Holdhus, written based on historical records.

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