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Reviving Ocean Church

Updated: May 11

By John Sato, Feb 10, 2024

True Father has tried many times to establish the Ocean Church, but most of these efforts failed. Perhaps most people think that the Providence of Ocean Church is one of those failures in the past and that it was a waste of money. Truth be told, the concept of Ocean Church is barely known outside of the United States. True Parents invested vast amounts of funds into boats and fishing workshops around the world. However, the actual results are meager. 

No matter how many times He experienced failure, True Father never stopped fishing, boat manufacturing, and other related marine businesses until the moment of His ascension while expecting and hoping for us to continue the Ocean Church and Ocean Providence. 

This document is written for those who are interested in the Providence of Ocean Church, to discuss why we should try restarting Ocean Church and a recommended approach to do so in order not to repeat past mistakes. 

(Photo below: True Father instructed us to establish the Ocean Church in October 1st, 1980, at Morning Garden.)

Is it even necessary to try to revive Ocean Church?

Our goal, like that of True Parents, is to establish a world of peace. The Ocean Providence is the Providence to solve the hunger problem and is a providence that is necessary for the realization of a world of peace.

True Father says the following in his autobiography:

“The oceans hold the key to solving the food crisis of the future. This is the reason I have been pioneering the oceans for the past several decades. We cannot build a world of peace without first resolving the food issue.” (p.316 “As a Peace Loving Global Citizen, Ch. 7)

If we wish to succeed in Ocean Providence, Ocean Church is a necessity as its internal center. Many organizations around the world have been trying to solve the hunger problem to no avail until now. This issue must be resolved by us, who hold the ideology of True Parents at the core of our beliefs. In addition, this Providence is worth pursuing no matter how difficult and how low the chance of success is. We must establish a foundation that future generations can build upon even by seeing and learning from our failures. True Father said: 

“This has to be done. For the future, someone has to do it. You are my hope. If you don't know that, you cannot understand even who you are. The one who is close to me is the one who will determine to be successful on the ocean.”(God’s Will and the Ocean Ch. 6 7/3/1983) 

Even after many failures after 20 years of starting Ocean Providence in the United States, True Father said:

“I started Ocean Church Providence 20 years ago, but only I am left at the end. Everyone threw it out on the way and disappeared somewhere. The next 20 years will be your time. Are you all ready to go this way? If you want to do it, raise both hands and swear before God. May God bless you. Mansei.” (“Development of the Oceanic Realm” 8/1/1994 Belvedere Training Center)

It is our responsibility to inherit True Parents' heart and continue the Providence.

What went wrong in the past?

Why was Ocean Church providence so unsuccessful? According to True Father's Words in books like "God's Will and the Ocean" and "Chambumo Gyeong Book 10," it seems that the reason of our failure is our inability to fully comprehend what True Father was talking about regarding Ocean Providence. 

In Chambumo Gyeong, he said:

“Although I am almost 80 years old, I still make time to go fishing, even in rain or snow. All the church leaders try to run away, making excuses and doing whatever they can to prevent me from going fishing. They do that because they do not understand why I am doing it.”(Chambumo Gyeong Book 10 Ch. 2 278-319, 6/23/1996)

And in God’s Will and the Ocean, he said: 

“So far, no matter how clear and creative the directions were, they have not been digested and accepted. The message dwindled with each step, from the leadership to the members, until it no longer made sense when it got to the members. However, the leader who moves from CARP to Ocean Church and then to state leadership can understand and respond to my direction. They will be like a special task force, ready to respond and go whenever they hear new directions.” (God’s Will and the Ocean Ch.4 9/5/1982)

According to the words above, the Ocean Church was necessary to fully comprehend True Father's instructions. To avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, let us reconsider the "role of the Ocean Church." 

What should the Ocean Church be like?

When we analyze the history of Ocean Church and True Father's words, we can start to understand what kind of organization the Ocean Church is and what kind of activities it should conduct. Analysis of the Ocean Church is recorded in the following resources below: 

According to True Father’s Words, Ocean Church should not be in the form of a traditional Christian church from two millennia ago but was supposed to be something very different. The following is a summary of "What Ocean Church should be" based on the history and True Father's Words:

(1) The Purpose of Ocean Church is not Education

Many people mistakenly believe that the purpose of Ocean Church is education and training. The goal of ocean training is not for youth education or general character education. Nor is it to spend time with the youth and take a commemorative photo.

Fishing is a great form of character education, but there are probably cheaper and more effective ways for character education, such as martial arts. There must be a more specific goal beyond general youth education in Ocean Church. 

(Photo below: The tradition of fishing corvina negra off the coast of Montevideo, Uruguay, has continued for more than 20 years.)

Also, evangelism is not the goal of Ocean Church although it is one of the activities. Ocean Church does not exist to create an environment for witnessing or outreach. The purpose of Ocean Church is to lead human society to a world of substantial peace by solving various issues facing humanity specifically the problem of hunger. 

Ocean Church must witness, educate, and train necessary human resources and conduct outreach to build cooperative systems and infrastructure for the clear goal of solving the world hunger problem. 

The Ocean Church does not exist for the sake of sustaining and expanding itself, like some religions. The Ocean Church must expand and cooperate with others to create a foundation to solve the world hunger problem, which is a necessary part of substantial world peace.

(2) The Form of Ocean Church is not a typical church chapel but a Business Group that Contributes to Society

To accomplish the goal of Ocean Church, we need to establish a vast business network. We cannot hope to solve the world hunger problem with donations collected in chapels. 

We must at least have a large-scale food production and the means of distribution of the produced food to solve the hunger problem. For example, we must have farms, fisheries, food processing, and transportation businesses. We also must establish schools that teach skills that will enable people to become self-sufficient, as that will ultimately lift people from the vicious cycles of poverty and hunger. 

We must also engage in hobby tourism to promote economic equalization. The hobby tourism can bring wealthy people to poor nations to expedite the equalization process between the rich and poor nations.

The basic form of Ocean Church is not a "building" like a chapel, but a business entity. Boats are meant to be used for business purposes, but at the same time, True Father told us to use them as a place to hold services and education for Ocean Church and even as home churches:

“Once we own this we need not worry forever about how to make a living. This is why Ocean Church was designed and this is still necessary. When that happens, the Unification Church can be worshiped right in the ocean, right in the boat. We don't need any church building and we don't have to be on the land.” (The Unification Church and the Land and the Sea, 6/1/1991)
“What is unique about this boat is that it will never sink. There is no limit to our use of such a boat. This is great for Home Church.” (God’s Will and the Ocean Ch. 3 8/28/1982 Province Town)

The Ocean Church in Liberty Harbor Marina in New Jersey that True Father developed in the 1990s did not have a chapel but was a group of various businesses such as restaurants, boats, fish processing, etc. (The photo below shows the Ocean Church in New Jersey in the 1990s.)

Normally, the members of the Ocean Church should be engaged in businesses and use the income and external foundations such as the boats to contribute to society, conduct education, outreach, and witness. For example, if a particular Ocean Church member is engaged in fish farming, they can make a social contribution by donating farmed fish to the local hungry population. Those engaged in the boat-building business can use the boats for local youth education.

In addition, businesses allow church members to work in society to earn their own income and support their families. 

This is different from the traditional Christian church. In traditional churches, people earn money by spending most of their waking hours working at jobs not directly related to the Providence, use most of the income for their living expenses, and donate a small portion of it to the church. In this context, the personal professional life, economic life, and church life are all separated. In this traditional way, people tend to spend most of their lives at work that does not necessarily align with the providence. 

At Ocean Church, everything is integrated into the same place - the personal and professional pursuit, a source of income to support a family, a method to contribute to society, and providential activities. Their vectors are all aligned. The work that we do daily is not just for generating money but is a substantial part of the providence and a path to world peace. 

(3) The Ocean Church must be the Spiritual Center of Ocean Providence

The business organization we build must continue to expand its efforts to solve the hunger problem, partnering with like-minded organizations around the world. We cannot solve the problem of hunger without forming a large coalition. 

During this process, the Ocean Church must be maintained as the spiritual center of all of the foundation. Organizations tend to be pure when they are poor, but embezzlement of public funds and corruption always find their way once successful. This happens to all organizations, and we are no exception. Ocean Church must constantly educate and convey the ideologies of True Parents to prevent our external foundations from being swayed by materialism. 

The Ocean Church is the center of the Ocean Providence which must consist of many businesses and organizations. It can be said that the Ocean Church is a device that will preserve True Parents' heart, ideology, and purpose that must be shared throughout all business entities of Ocean Providence.

(4) Ocean Church should operate on investments and its own income, not on donations 

We cannot make the mistake of thinking that Ocean Church, as it is called the "church," must run by donations like the traditional churches. 

Ocean Church must operate like any other business and become financially independent. It can be operated through initial investments, but it cannot be sustainable unless it becomes financially independent. 

Ocean Church should avoid operating solely on donations and aim for self-sufficiency. This also serves as training for ourselves. We must eventually be able to teach self-sufficiency to the starving population to promote the resolution to the hunger problem, so the members of the Ocean Church must first be able to become self-sufficient.

(5) The Main Activitiy of Ocean Church is Social Contribution

According to True Father’s Words, Ocean Church must engage in businesses, social contributions, youth education, outreach, and witnessing. However, its chief activity is not witnessing or even the business, but social contribution activities with the ultimate goal of solving the hunger problem. 

The businesses are necessary to generate funds as well as to build the external methods for social contribution. The education and witnessing are necessary to develop human resources who can launch and expand Ocean Providence businesses. 

The stereotypical understanding that Ocean Church exists mainly for outreach and witnessing is wrong. Witnessing, education, business, and even the Unification Church itself are "methods," not the ultimate goal. Our goal is to create a peaceful world in a very practical sense through contributing to our society and the world. We must not lose sight of this ultimate goal.

It is a mistake to view the society as an enemy. We live in it, and it enables us to live. We live by eating food made by someone and wearing clothes made by someone else. Many issues exist in human society, but as we all benefit greatly from human society, we have much to be grateful for as well. 

The Ocean Church is a movement to give back to society, build partnerships, and extend its benefits to the poor and hungry. 

(6) The Ocean Church's Outreach should center around Social Contribution

In order to carry out major social contribution activities, we have to be able to mobilize the country and its politicians. However, Ocean Church should not conduct its outreach activities through mobilizing large meetings and conferences. 

The outreach activities of Ocean Church should center around social contribution activities. 

The Pacu release ceremony at Puerto Leda in Paraguay is a great example of such an outreach activity. Every year, our church members in Puerto Leda release tens of thousands of young fish called Pacu into Paraguay River to help repopulate the river from overfishing. Such social contribution activities are a very effective way to reach scientists, environmentalists, and even politicians. 

(Photo below: The author participated in the Pacu release ceremony at Puerto Leda, Paraguay in 2018 when 100,000 young pacus were released in Paraguay River.)

By focusing on such social contribution activities, we can build cooperative networks with people and organizations that are already involved in the field altruistically. We have to create a large coalition with other like-minded organizations to build a substantial peace in the world. 

(7) Clarification of the Purpose of Ocean Training and Fishing

We saw many events happen in the past such as fishing tournaments, Ocean Challenges, fishing conditions, fishing workshops in Yeosu, and others. We spent tens of millions of dollars on such activities. What were they for? 

The purpose of fishing tournaments was to spread a culture of fishing around the world. The Ocean Challenge that started in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1981 was to establish a tuna fishing business. In the Pantanal fishing workshops for national messiahs in the late 1990s, each participant had to catch 160 fish in Paraguay River. The “Ocean Leaders Training Workshops” in Yeosu trained 7,300 Japanese women. 

In hindsight, these workshops ended up using large amounts of funds and were not sustainable. In most people’s eyes, these workshops ended without any clear substantial results. If we were to continue fishing workshops at Ocean Church, we must clarify the desired result (purpose) and ensure its sustainability. The goal must not be solely for Jeong Song or character education. 

The form of Ocean Church is a group of businesses. The reason a typical business entity runs a "workshop" is to train the participants in the method for carrying out a purpose and a plan, or to develop a strategy for a specific goal. The training or education itself is not the goal.

The purpose of workshops should vary depending on the situation but it should mainly be to train people to build businesses in Ocean Providence. 

For example, True Father told us to do fishing tourism in Pantanal. Hence one of the goals of Pantanal fishing should be to train people to start a fishing tourism business in Pantanal. 

If we are going to renew and revitalize Ocean Church, the purpose of holding fishing workshops or tournaments may be to communicate True Parents’ visions of Ocean Providence and to recruit Ocean Church members. During the fishing workshop, we should persuade participants to become members of Ocean Church. 

True Father also invested an immense amount of time in fishing workshops, trying to convince us: 

“Many Americans like that kind of seafood and I knew that, so I pioneered and developed every aspect by myself. Then, I had to convince the members. I watched many of them escape from Ocean Church during these past five years, but I kept going on.” (God’s Will and the Ocean Ch. 11 August 1985)

Practical Steps for Building Ocean Church

Once we have a clear idea of "what Ocean Church should be," we need to think about how it can be built. There are various Ocean Church activities such as business, education, social contribution, witnessing, and outreach. These need to be well-balanced to ensure sustainability and growth. 

The following is a summary of my recommendations on how to accumulate our activities toward the goal.

(1) First, build a sustainable economic foundation

If we mistake the purpose of Ocean Church as education or witnessing, we will end up focusing only on education and witnessing, exhausting human resources and funds. This will limit us from developing the necessary infrastructure to solve world hunger. 

Education is always necessary, but a sustainable economic base is necessary first. True Father sent boats all over the world in hopes of expanding Ocean Church globally, but there were almost no cases where it ultimately led to success. Most of these boats were either sold or abandoned. The major reason for these failures was the lack of economic base to operate and manage the boats. 

We must of course provide providential education by running fishing workshops, but if there is no economic continuity, it will all end in vain. We cannot ensure continuity of education, outreach, and social contribution unless they are proportionately run with the size of the existing economic foundation. 

Even if we operated our businesses with donations or initial investment in the very beginning, we have to aim for a self-sustaining economic foundation. There would be no point in Ocean Church training otherwise and we will repeat the failures of the past.

So what kind of business should we run? It is of course preferable to engage in businesses that are directly related to the Ocean Providence such as food production, food distribution/transportation, education, hobby tourism, and others, but it can also be any business that is beneficial to society. Any of these will become a great foundation for Ocean Church. 

(2) Education through Fishing Workshops and Tournaments

In order to increase the number of people who support the plans of the Ocean Church, it is important to create an environment such as fishing workshops. 

Ocean Providence requires a network of many people to be successful. The goal of solving world hunger cannot be achieved by 100, 1000, or even 10,000 people. True Father ordered the establishment of 535 Ocean Churches in the United States. Since Ocean Providence aims to solve hunger for hundreds of millions of people, it requires many people. 

The fishing workshops and tournaments are necessary as a place to teach the vision of Ocean Providence to spread the ideas of Ocean Providence and expand the global network. To start, we must first persuade the youth to join Ocean Providence, just as True Father tried to do. 

(Photo below: True Father taught fishing to UTS students in Barrytown, NY, in the 1970s.)

(3) Building a Cooperative Network through Social Contribution Activities

Social contribution activities serve as a way to build local relations and cooperation and serve as a basis for making even greater social contributions. We will need the cooperation of governments and existing NGO organizations if we are to make significant contributions to the world. 

Outreach activities and social contribution activities cost money. We like to be praised by others and take pictures of our accomplishments but investing too much into outreach and social contribution can hinder business expansion and may lead to missed opportunities for even greater social contribution. We must remember that our ultimate purpose is not outreach or witnessing. Outreach and witnessing are necessary components to realize the world of peace substantially. Don’t let the method become the purpose.

What kind of social contribution activities should we engage in?

It will depend on the local situation. In the United States, True Father instructed Ocean Church members to engage in cleaning the port cities, helping law enforcement with fighting drugs, and giving jobs to youths. We can start with small-scale social contribution activities, win the trust of the local government and society, and eventually aim to establish a network that works at national and global levels to solve the food problem. 

(4) Expansion of Business

A vast network of businesses is required to solve the global hunger problem. To this end, True Father began the Ocean Providence in the United States.

“I look at the vast ocean resources as God's blessing waiting for the Unification Church. I have promised to God, "Give me twenty years' time and we will conquer the sea, taking dominion over it and returning the glory to You." That is how I think every time I go out. Later, we will establish a great foundation, and even the Ford or Rockefeller Foundations will look like peanuts in comparison.” (God’s Will and the Ocean Ch. 14, 6/5/1977)

Our businesses should be diversified. We also must help each other. Each business is important, and it will be meaningless if just one of the businesses is successful. For example, even if we succeed in food production, if we do not have a distribution business to deliver that food to the hungry population at a low cost, we will not have achieved the purpose of Ocean Providence. 

Various businesses must unite under a single purpose of world peace and gradually form a large global foundation. 

Ocean Providence businesses do not necessarily have to be a centralized organization. Rather, a widely cooperative system of decentralized organizations that are united under the same goal would be more legally and economically protected and more sustainable. In addition, a decentralized system is more fluid, less exclusive, and will have more points of contact with society, making it easier to interact with other religious groups and NGOs. 

No matter how we think about it, the problem of world hunger is not one that just the FFWPU can solve alone. We must build a wide-ranging business coalition globally.

In summary, we must develop the various core businesses to become our economic foundation as well as the methods to solve the starving people. Based on this foundation, we can build up education and social contribution projects gradually to create a global cooperative coalition to finally solve the starvation problem altogether.  

(5) Managing the Plan and Strategic Investments

The word “Providence” is usually defined as “God’s guidance or plan.” Hence, “Ocean Providence” is God’s Plan related to the ocean. Plans usually have clear actionable steps to reach the goal. Some of these steps depend on each other and are sequential. Others are parallel steps. All of these steps are important to reach the final goal. For example, even if 99 percent of a boat is completed, if a single part such as a propeller or steering wheel is missing, the entire boat is useless and can never achieve its intended purpose. 

Without understanding the steps of Ocean Providence, it is difficult to make any appropriate decisions. Ocean Church members must understand the steps and guide the rest of us to complete the plan of Ocean Providence.

Businesses should be developed strategically centered around the plan of Ocean Providence. For example, if the food production business is on track but the distribution business has not started, investments should be made into the distribution business. Such management of the plan should also be the role of Ocean Church. 

Worship service at the Ocean Church should be centered on the Plan, i.e., the Providence. There should be actions based on the plan and it should be discussed within the ocean church service. The internal and spiritual contents are always necessary for us to implement the actions, but they must always connect to substantial actions within the plan of Ocean Providence.

(6) Long-term Plan to Nurture Experts

If we were to become successful in Ocean Providence, we must focus on building the businesses now, but also we must nurture the future experts. 

We need lawyers, scientists, architects, engineers, etc. to support Ocean Providence. Such experts do not develop quickly. Normally, they would need 5 years of education and 5 years of experience. 

To this end, Ocean Church must encourage youths to study and gain experience in society to become effective professionals. Ideally, we should have our own technical schools so that we can develop our professionals in our own schools and businesses.

This way, experts who are recognized in wider society, not just within a religious realm, will be able to form an even larger coalition to solve various social issues of the world. Education of the experts will become the most important issue in the long term. 

For World Peace, We Must Try and Try Again No Matter How Many Times We Fail

Above are the steps I recommend we take to revive and try again to expand Ocean Church. 

We are still inadequate in many aspects in trying to achieve a world of peace. We lack people. That is the reality. The chances of failure are high. 

What we must remember is that even if we failed in the past, we still won't have any reason to give up on Ocean Church. Human history has been a series of repeated failures in search of a peaceful world. We are no exception and may continue to fail. Failure is not a reason to give up. We might be criticized by future generations if we fail, but they will at least learn from our mistakes. 

I sincerely hope that those who read this document will agree with the great plan of Ocean Church founded by True Parents and will walk together on the same path, sharing this single ideal of a peaceful world. 


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