- Written by Michael Mickler
Young Oon Kim, a demure and spiritual woman, had an illustrious career as professor, evangelist, church builder, writer and ecumenist.
Young Oon Kim (1914-89) was a pioneer missionary, theologian and spiritual leader. She was the first Unification missionary to the United States, arriving in 1959. She incorporated the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC) in 1961 and built the church during the 1960s, sending pioneers throughout the United States and Western Europe. She published eight editions of the Principle from 1960-72 and played a major role in the purchase of Belvedere International Training Center.
Prior to joining the Unification movement, Miss Kim was a professor of New Testament, Church History and Comparative Religion at Ewha Women’s University. She was a graduate of the Methodist seminary at Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan and a noted woman intellectual in Korean society. She did postgraduate work at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto on a scholarship from the United Church of Canada from 1948-51 and was a sponsored observer at international Christian conferences in Germany and Switzerland. Along with four other faculty members (and fourteen students who were expelled), Miss Kim resigned from Ewha University in 1955 in protest over demands to disaffiliate from the Unification Church. She then turned West. In her words, “As soon as I discovered the universal value of the Divine Principles and the heavenly dispensation, I began to be concerned with the people of the Western world with whom I had established a cultural bond.”
Following Rev. Moon’s 1971 arrival in America, Miss Kim requested leave “to work on project I had been dreaming of for years … a theological approach to the Divine Principle.” She subsequently published Unification Theology and Christian Thought (1975), a three-volume work on World Religions (1976), Unification Theology (1980), An Introduction to Theology (1983), and The Types of Modern Theology (1984) as well as additional articles and essays. She was the first Unification movement faculty member and Professor of Systematic Theology at Unification Theological Seminary from 1975-88 where she helped shape the first generation of UTS graduates. She still is the most widely known Unification theologian.
Miss Kim was a deeply spiritual woman. She testified to having received numerous gifts of the spirit and was a lifelong devotee of the Swedish seer Emmanuel Swendenborg. However, she emphasized a common-sense, practical spirituality, and service to others. She exemplified this in her lifestyle, doing day-to-day shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing. She counseled members when they were troubled and nursed them when they were sick. Her approach to life was well summed-up in a Korean proverb she liked to quote: “If you plan your life for one year, plant grain; if you plan your life for 10 years, plant fruit trees. But if you plan for 100 years, then plant people.”