ASSOCIATED PRESS-IOWA 06/08/87 APia 06/08 1036 Iowa Focus-Moon Trip QC Rev. Moon Host

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ASSOCIATED PRESS-IOWA 06/08/87 APia 06/08 1036 Iowa Focus-Moon Trip QC Rev. Moon Hosts Iowa Minister Visit to Orient By LINDA COOK Quad-City Times DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) -- The Unification Church, led by the controversial Rev. Myung Sun Moon, has taken some Quad-City ministers on trips to the Orient in an apparent attempt to bolster its image. Two Quad-City ministers who made the trip this spring came away convinced that the church is not a cult. But two other local ministers, who rejected overtures by Unification church members, disagree and said Moon's church is dangerous and uses sophisticated tactics for good public relations. The Rev. Paul Bigby, a member of Progressive Baptist Church, Davenport, and the Rev. Roy Cheers, pastor at Olivet Baptist Church, Rock Island, both went on trips sponsored and partially paid for by the Unification Church. The Unification Church, which is attempting to start a local church in Davenport, has been sponsoring the trips for the past year. Its members are often referred to as "Moonies." Cheers, accompanied by his wife, visited Japan and Seoul, Korea, "at very little cost" and said he was impressed. "I think they're doing good work. I don't think they're a cult," he said. "But I'm not a backer." Cheers, as part of a large group, visited Unification churches, factories and businesses. The Rev. Al Vander Meer, of Christ's Family Reformed Church, Davenport, was visited by a Unification church member and invited to go on one of the trips, but refused. "They're a cult. They claim to be the true church, and they say they can prove that the second Messiah will be in Korea." "They bribe people," Vander Meer said. "There's a hook in it. They bait people. That's how all cults work." But Bigby came away from his trip impressed. He said he was most impressed by a performance of the "Little Angels," a private school that develops talents of gifted children. "They spared no expense in terms of the theater that was built or the children in terms of staging, equipment, props or costumes, all of it coordinated in such a high level of professionalism," Bigby said. "It's the kind of thing you feel like coming away from and saying `That's what we need to do.' " Bigby first heard about the trips when a Unification member visited the Quad-Cities Ecumenical Ministerial Alliance, a group of clergy who are primarily miniorities. Bigby said he wasn't recruited to become a church member nor does he believe, as some do, that the Unification Church is trying to take over other churches. "I just can't give any credence to that kind of thinking," he said. "I don't think they're a cult." But the Rev. Pat Bell, of Grace Lutheran Church, certainly does. He was approached in May by a local Unification church member who asked Bell to participate in spiritual renewal in the community and to help combat communism in America. "I called them a cult, and he didn't like that," Bell said. Bell said the Unification Church members are "well-coached." He thinks the church is making a general effort to gain respectability. "They're very sophisticated," he said. "They want people to say they're part of the Christian Church." Jack Corley, head of the Iowa Unification Church in Des Moines, said the trips have been going on for about a year. The trips are subsidized by the church, he said, but the ministers do have to pay some of the cost. And he said the trips are not for recruitment. "If people want to join our church, of course I am happy," Corley said. "But you're not going to give up your belief on an 11-day trip to the Orient." [SUBMITTED BY PBRYANT. MY REFERENCE: \CULTS\87060801.TUC]


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