Sanctuary Church

George Chryssides



1960 (April 11):  Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han were married.

1969 (May 25):  Hyun Jin (Preston), Moon’s eldest surviving son, was born.

1970 (July 17):  Kook Jin (Justin) was born.

1978 (November 6):  Yeon Ah Lee, bride of Hyung Jin, was born

1979 (September 26): Hyung Jin, Moon’s youngest son, was born.

1996:  The Unification Church became the Family Federation of World Peace and Unification (FFWPU)

1997 (September 6):  Hyung Jin and Yeon Ah Lee received the Holy Blessing.

2000:  Sun Myung Moon decided that Hyun Jin had the right of inheritance.

2004 (March 22):  Shin Joon (son of Hyung Jin and Yeon Ah) was born.

2006:  Sun Myung Moon moved to Chung Pyung.

2008 (April 18):  Sun Myung Moon named Huyng Jin as his successor in an “Inauguration” ceremony.

2009:  Coronation ceremonies were held for Huyng Jin and Yeon Ah Lee as King and Queen of Heaven.

2009:  Hyun Jin established the Global Peace Foundation (GPF).

2012 (September 3):  Sun Myung Moon died.

2012-2013:  Hak Ja Han removed Hyung Jin and Kook Jin from office.

2013:  Hak Ja Han asked Huyng Jin to go to Korea.

2015:  The declaration of the Constitution of the United States of Cheon Il Guk took place.

2015:  The medium Hyo Nam Kim, who claimed to channel Sun Myung Moon, was dismissed.

2016:  Hyun Jin established the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) to replace the FFWPU.

2017 (January 1):  Cheong Il Goong (“Heaven’s Palace”) was dedicated and opened.


The Sanctuary Church was founded in 2015 as the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, and is the smallest of the three main schisms that have emerged after Sun Myung Moon’s death in 2012. Originally called the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, it is headed by Moon’s youngest son Hyung Jin (Sean) Moon (born 1979) (Image at right) and his wife Yeon Ah Lee Moon (born 1978).

At the Transfer of True Parents’ Authority Ceremony, held on April 18, 2008, Sun Myung Moon announced the transfer of leadership to Hyung Jin (Sean) Moon, in preference to his eldest surviving son Hyun Jin (Preston) Moon. Three subsequent “coronation” ceremonies the following year (“The Great Coronation of the Authority of Liberation of God, the King of Kings”), two in Korea and one in the United States, confirmed Moon’s choice of Hyung Jin and his wife Yeon Ah Lee as the King and Queen of Cheol Il Guk (the Kingdom of Heaven) (Chryssides 2009:367-68).

Notwithstanding this transfer of succession, Moon (Image at right) has consistently proclaimed that his wife Hak Ja Han Moon is jointly the messiah, since Adam and Eve’s Fall must be restored by a couple, and Jesus, the Second Adam, should have married and raised a sinless family. Hak Ja Han therefore asserted her position as co-messiah, assuming the leadership after her husband’s death. A power struggle then ensued between Hyung Jin and his mother, with Hyun Jin also competing for the movement’s leadership and financial assets. Hak Ja Han continued to maintain control of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), while Hyun Jin set up his own group, the Family Peace Association (Toffey 2016).

Hak Ja Han directed Hyung Jin to go to Korea in 2013, but Hyung Jin refused, moving instead to Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, supported by his older brother, Kook Jin (Justin) Moon, who relocated his Kahr Arms company to nearby Pike Country. Hyung Jin instructed all Unification Church members to resign from the FFWPU organisation, and in a subsequent “Declaration from Heaven” he announced the removal from office of all current FFWPU leaders. By way of response, in 2015 the FFWPU removed Hyung Jin from his role as International President.


The Sanctuary Church accepts the traditional theology of the Unification Movement, as taught in key texts such as Exposition of Divine Principle, holding that Adam and Eve instigated the Fall, which required restoration which Jesus’ mission was unable fully to complete, and that Sun Myung Moon was chosen as the Lord of the Second Coming, who enabled those participating in the Blessing (popularly known as the “mass marriages”) to be engrafted into God’s rather than Satan’s lineage. In common with the FFWPU the Sanctuary Church remains opposed to extra-marital sex and homosexuality, and adopts a right-wing political stance, welcoming the news of Donald Trump’s election in 2016 (Robertson 2017). Acknowledging the Fall as an illicit sexual act, Hyung Jin teaches “Absolute Sex”: this is essentially a re-affirmation of traditional Unificationist teachings, but Hyung Jin makes a point of using explicit vocabulary to refer to one’s sexual organs. Hak Jan Han Moon asked him to desist from this practice, but he refused (Barker 1984; Chryssides 1991; Toffey 2017).

The various factions’ quarrels about succession have transposed themselves into theological disputes. The emergent Sanctuary Church contends that, by refusing to recognise Hyung Jin’s  authority as successor to True Father, Hak Jan Han Moon had disunited herself from her husband and co-messiah, and, by being unfaithful to Moon’s intentions, she has failed to fulfil the final part of the restoration process. Sun Myung Moon had previously taught that, after their marriage in 1960, she had to undergo seven years of training to become perfected (Chryssides 1991:146), but Hak Ja Han, by contrast, now declares herself to have been born sinless. The Sanctuary Church has criticised Hak Ja Han Moon for espousing feminism, having substituted the term “True Parent” for “True Father,” and Hyung Jin has questioned whether True Mother, being a woman, can properly have “dominion,” which he believes is a male prerogative.

Controversy has also been generated about the Unificationist canon of scripture. Moon defined “Eight Great Textbooks” (Cheon Seong Gyeong) to be preserved eternally intact. The Sanctuary Church acknowledges these eight scriptures, as defined by the Rev Moon: The Sermons of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon; Exposition of the Divine Principle; Cheon Seong Gyeong; The Family Pledge; Pyeong Hwa Shin Gyeong; True Families: Gateway to Heaven; Owner of Peace and Owner of Lineage; and World Scripture. The less familiar texts listed here are all speeches of Sun Myung Moon or excerpts from them, relating to the Fall and restoration, the importance of marriage and family life, world peace, and the hope of an ideal heavenly kingdom. By contrast, the FFWPU only acknowledges “Three Great Scriptures,” and the Sanctuary Church alleges that Hak Ja Han Moon has altered or deleted parts of the text in the version used by her own followers (Sanctuary Church 2017).


Regular Sunday Worship is held in a small chapel, with seating accommodation of around 300. The Sunday services are somewhat informal, and usually include a somewhat lengthy and slow-paced sermon from Hyung Jin. In addition to the Chapel, Cheong Il Goong (Heaven’s Palace), was dedicated on January 1, 2017. The Sanctuary Church has removed pictures of Hak Jan Han from all its premises, displaying images of Sun Myung Moon on his own.

The Sanctuary Church continues to offer Matching Ceremonies, Blessing Ceremonies and Ancestor Liberation Ceremonies, and to hold seminars on the Principle. Matching may be done online, and couples taking part in the Blessing need not be physically present in the chapel: they can participate online through a video link, having purchased a “Blessing Kit”, which contains holy wine, holy water, and holy salt, and other requisites that are needed for the ceremony. Couples must observe a forty-day period of chastity in advance, and perform the accompanying ceremonies, the “chastisement ceremony” (previously called the “indemnity ceremony”) and the three-day ceremony (Sanctuary Church 2017).

Since the Sanctuary Church refuses to accept Hak Ja Han’s status and authority, it has called into question the validity of the Blessing ceremonies over which Hak Ja Han (Image at right) has presided, regarding them as Satanic, and requiring members to be blessed again by Hyung Jin. The issue has important implications since couples having sexual relationships outside of a genuine marriage are deemed guilty of fornication, and any children who are born as a consequence are technically born out of wedlock. Hyung Jin has stated that he is willing to “pay indemnity” (undertake vicarious penance) on their behalf, and a special ceremony (“Holy Marriage Blessing for Returning to True Father’s Authority”) was held on April 21, 2015. The ceremony would regularise their marriages, and any children born after February 22, 2013 would be judged to have the status of second or third generation blessed children. A further “Cosmic Blessing of 4,300 Couples for Returning to True Father’s Authority (Phase One)” was held on August 19, 2016.


In 2001, Sun Myung Moon proclaimed the inception of Cheonju Pyeonghwa Tongil Guk (Nation of Peace and Unity – Cheon Il Guk, abbreviated to CIG). This nation was said to be a heavenly one, spanning the entire cosmos, rather than confined to any defined geographical area. A Constitution for this “nation” was published, which declared the True Parents to be the King and Queen of Peace of CIG, and emphasising the importance of the Blessing and Blessed Marriages. The Consitution set out methods of government, including a President, a Supreme Council, a National Assembly, and methods for holding elections. The Sanctuary Church subsequently defined its own rival CIG: the nation would be a monarchy, headed by Hyung Jin, with his spouse Queen Yeon Ah Lee. The right of accession is to be hereditary, with the King having the right to determine which of their male offspring would succeed him. Currently, his youngest son Shin Joon (born 2004) is the nominee (Sanctuary Church 2017).

The Sanctuary Church has a following in a few other countries. Its size is difficult to determine: in July 2017 there are were 3,155 Facebook followers, but this number also includes current FFWPU members, ex-members, and some academic observers.


The declared aims of the Sanctuary Church are “To honor and preserve the legacy of Rev. Sun Myung Moon” and “to preserve and share the teachings of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.” Hak Ja Han’s status arouses acrimonious controversy between the Sanctuary Church and the FFWPU, the key issues being whether she has unduly elevated her status claiming to have been born sinless, whether it is appropriate to refer to her as “True Mother,” and whether she has the right to re-define Unificationist scriptures. Hyung Jin and his supporters also claim that Hak Ja Han now only mentions her own Han lineage, rather than the fallen lineage that Sun Myung Moon purportedly restored. Her name alone, rather than the names of both True Parents, now appears on the wedding rings exchanged at Blessing ceremonies.

As previously mentioned, the validity of the FFWPU’s ceremonies is called into question. Moon’s recently established headquarters of the Unification Church at Cheong Pyeong is described as a centre of “idolatry”, and the Sanctuary Church criticises its rites for ancestor liberation, holding that only Moon as a true heir can liberate ancestors.

A further issue relates to the perceived purpose of Sun Myung Moon’s work. The FFWPU regards itself as a movement, focusing on families, peace, and unification. By contrast, the Sanctuary Church, as its name suggests, sees itself as a church with worshipping congregations. The wider aims of the FFWPU are furthered by their superior numerical and financial strength, while the Sanctuary Church remains small. Sanctuary Church members tend to be drawn from its parent organisation, rather from wider missionary outreach, and hence attracting new members is difficult.

At the time of writing there appears to be little prospect of any reconciliation between the two parties. Considerable animosity prevails. Hyung Jin has accused his mother of having been seduced by the Archangel (Satan), describing her as a dokkaebi (demon), and the Whore of Babylon (Sanctuary Church 2015:21:36). Kook Jin has gone so far as to suggest that the appropriate penalty for Hak Ja Han’s disloyalty is execution: “The tradition of Kingship is very clear, in that case where the Queen Mother tries to usurp the throne, it’s the King’s responsibility to arrest her and execute her. That’s the king’s responsibility” (Sanctuary Church 2016:55:23).


Barker, Eileen. 1984. The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing? Oxford: Blackwell.

Chryssides, George D. 2009. “The Unification Church.” In Jacob Neusner, World Religions in America, Fourth Edition. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Chryssides, George D. 1991. The Advent of Sun Myung Moon. London: Macmillan.

Robertson, Hamish. 2017. “Donald Trump and Hyung Jin Nim,” January 10. Accessed from on 25 July 2017.

Sanctuary Church. 2017. “World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, also known as the Sanctuary Church of Newfoundland, PA.” Acessed from on 7 January 2017.

Sanctuary Church. 2016. “Question & Answer Session with Hyung Jin Moon & Kook Jin Moon, October 31. Acessed from  Accessed 7 January 2017.

Sanctuary Church. 2015. “The Burning of Babylon -– Rev. Hyung Jin Moon – Sanctuary Church Newfoundland PA,” September 20. Accessed from on 27 July 2017.

Toffey, Kyle, ed. 2016. “The Panzer-Fefferman Debate.” Accessed from on 7 January 2017.


Mickler, Michael L. (2012). The Beginnings of Cheon Il Guk. Journal of Unification Studies 13: 139-174. Accessible online at  Accessed 5 January 2017.

Mickler, Michael L. (2015). The Sanctuary Church Schismatics. Applied Unificationism: A Blog of Unification Theological Seminary. Accessible online at  Accessed 6 January 2017.

Post Date:
3 August 2017


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