July 24, 2014 at 11:43 pm

Harmony urged with 'be kind to each other' message at Belle Isle religious gathering

Francoise Takenaka, center, of Columbus, Ohio, joins her husband, Takashi Takenaka, left, and Samuel Saman of Beaufort, N.C., in prayer at the end of the God's Hope for America ceremony on Thursday on Belle Isle. (Photos by Clarence Tabb, Jr. / The Detroit News)

Detroit — Michael Balcomb called on Metro Detroiters and the rest of the world to “be kind to each other.”

“In the scripture, it says we have to be kind and considerate, and often we’re not,” said Balcomb, president of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the international church founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

“So one thing I want to appeal to you today as you leave this place is let’s be kind to each other,” he said. “Be kind to people you don’t know as well as the ones you do.”

Balcomb made his plea Thursday during an interfaith service at Belle Isle.

More than 180 people gathered for the service.

It was part of a six-week, 5,000-mile trip across the country commemorating a trek made by Moon in 1965. Moon, who died in 2012 at age 92, was a self-proclaimed messiah who turned his Unification Church into a worldwide religious movement.

“Fifty years later, we’re doing this to rekindle and revitalize that spirit of America and God’s hope for it to become a nation where all people could come together in harmony and peace, and be a foundation for world peace,” said David Kasbow, senior pastor of the Metro Detroit Family Church in Warren.

Kasbow’s church, part of the Family Federation For World Peace and Unification, organized the service.

Many of the worshipers arrived at the 1 p.m. service in a red tour bus emblazoned with banners on the sides that read “God’s Hope for America.” Its cross-country tour started June 22 in San Francisco.

Thursday’s service, which was led by Jewish, Christian and Muslim clergy, was held near a spot on Belle Isle that Moon visited and blessed during his first trip to the United States nearly 50 years ago.

Moon started his church in Seoul and preached new interpretations of lessons from the Bible. His church gained notice in the 1970s and 1980s for holding mass weddings. It later focused on a business empire that included the Washington Times.

Moon served 13 months for tax evasion in a U.S. federal prison in 1984-85. The church said the U.S. government persecuted Moon because of his growing influence and popularity.

After the service, Betty Scott, who attends church at Bethel A.M.E. in Detroit, said she enjoyed the service.

“For the tour to come to Detroit as one of its stops and having it here on Belle Isle was monumental,” she said. “I’m happy they’re here, especially during a week when Detroit is celebrating it’s birthday.”

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Rabbi Mordecai Waldman of Royal Oak leads the group to the holy ground ... (Clarence Tabb Jr / The Detroit News)