Many Unificationists had expected Rev. Sun Myng Moon’s youngest son, Hyung Jin (b. 1979), to guide the movement after his father’s death.
However, the wife of the founder of the Unification Church (Hak Ja Han) actually clearly emerged as the leader, reported Dan Fefferman (International Coalition for Religious Freedom, Washington D.C.), himself a church member, at the international CESNUR (Center for Studies of New Religions) conference meeting in late June at Dalarna University (Falun, Sweden), which Religion Watch attended.
The death of Rev. Moon was expected, but not at the time it took place: his followers had expected him to live longer, at least until February 2013, a month seen as the culmination of his life. Thus the “Foundation Day” on February 22 took place in somewhat difficult circumstances. Besides the physical absence of Rev. Moon himself, there were reports of a continuing schism between Moon and his eldest living son, Hyun Jin (aka Preston, not to be confused with his youngest brother Hyung) and the resignation of a charismatic daughter of Rev. Moon, In Jin, following the disclosure of an affair. Furthermore, Kook Jin and Hyung Jin Moon played important roles in different sectors of the repriotarization of the movement [see November/December 2012 RW for more on this trend.]
The rebellion of the eldest son goes along with lawsuits for control of assets, which continue to be a major financial drain for the church. While people who follow him are small in numbers, they control a large part of the assets of the Church. Regarding the two sons who were asked to resign from the board of the Tongil corporation (Kook Jin Moon) and from the leadership of the movement in America (Hyung Jin Moon), they are not in schism, but neither are active currently; they both reside in the US. There are different centers of power in the church. Ultimately, one of the “True Children” (i.e. the children of Rev. Moon) should emerge to take the reins of the movement. But Moon’s wife’s control is currently not challenged.
Regarding the reprioritization of Unificationism, it is likely to mean less money spent on expensive projects, less international conferences sponsored by the church, and greater emphasis on evangelism. There has been no mass exodus from the church, but following the current turmoil, members have become more vocal in their doubts and questions. The new priority on evangelism might actually even lead to a membership growth in some countries in the years to come.