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Events will honor slain Unification Church worker

The Observer, USA
Aug. 18, 2003
KEN GARFIELD, Religion Editor • Monday August 18, 2003

Events will honor slain church worker
She was abducted, killed while raising funds door-to-door

Prayers, dance and the planting of flowers will honor the memory of a Seattle teen murdered last August in Charlotte as she knocked on doors for her church.

Friends of Jin-Joo Byrne say the series of events planned over the next week will make sure the message that brought the 18-year-old to Charlotte doesn’t die with her.

“She was absolutely passionate about true love,” said Kate Tsubata of New Carrollton, Md.

Byrne was abducted and murdered as she offered jewelry in exchange for donations for the Unification Church at Roseland Apartments in west Charlotte. Eugene Evans pleaded guilty and will spend at least 40 years in prison after Byrne’s parents pleaded with prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.

Tsubata founded WAIT (Washington AIDS International Teens), one of the groups honoring Byrne.

Among the more than half-dozen events in the works:

Teens from WAIT will perform a skit and dance outside the Government Plaza on East 4th Street in uptown Charlotte at about noon Wednesday, part of their ministry to teach HIV/AIDS prevention through the arts.

Participants will gather at Roseland Apartments off Pressley Road at about 4 p.m. Thursday to plant flowers in Byrne’s honor, beside trees already planted in her memory.

A service next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church at 1801 Double Oaks Road will focus on preventing HIV/AIDS and feature youth mimes. Mothers of Murdered Offspring is involved.

For details on all events, call (704) 366-6925.

Tsubata first met Byrne at a party three years ago. The teen was a friend of her daughter, Lan. What Tsubata remembers vividly about that first encounter was how Byrne acted as if she had known you all of her life.

That may be why Byrne felt comfortable going door-to-door, smiling and soliciting strangers in a city she didn’t know well — one of the so-called “Moonies” who belonged to the controversial movement founded by Sun Myung Moon.

It’s why her friends don’t want others to forget.

Said Tsubata: “We want to make sure that her life’s intentions, her dreams, carry on.”

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