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The BBC's Carrie Gracie reports
"The Unification Church says marriage is the key to world peace"
 real 28k

Sunday, 13 February, 2000, 15:17 GMT
In pictures: Moonies' mass wedding

Some 60,000 members of the Unification Church, also known as Moonies, were married at a mass wedding in Seoul on Sunday. Church officials said people from 150 countries around the world took part in the event.




At Seoul's Chamsil Olympic stadium, Unification Church leader Reverend Sun Myung Moon "matched and blessed" 20,000 new brides and bridegrooms, and saw 40,000 people renew their wedding vows.



The mass wedding began with the couples saluting the Korean national flag, a gesture meant to express respect for South Korea, the birthplace of the Unification Church, which claims 4.5 million followers worldwide.



Rev Moon and his wife Han Hak Ja sprinkled holy water on the couples, wedding vows were repeated, and the phrase "I do" reverberated across the stadium. The event ended with gun salutes and colourful fireworks.



Some of those who attended the event came from overseas, including these couples from Albania. Church officials others came from as far afield as the United States, Russia, England, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.



Japanese members of the church hold pictures of their partners who were unable to attend the ceremony. Church officials said "hundreds of thousands" of others renewed their vows while watching the ceremony through the Internet and on live TV via satellite.



The mass wedding marked the culmination of a five-day "world culture and sports festival" organised by the church in Seoul.



The Unification Church has held similar mass weddings to recruit new members. Church officials say the Rev Moon plans to "match and bless" some 400 million couples through future mass weddings.

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See also:
07 Feb 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Thousands wed in global event
07 Feb 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Moonies wed on the Net
03 Feb 00 |  Americas
Moonies aim to score with Brazilians
15 Aug 99 |  Americas
Moonies make 'heaven on earth'

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