Going Out to the World: The Class of 1996
As I came down the steps after receiving my diploma, I felt as if I
was one of the stones in the chapel wall - I’m really a part of this place
now!” Mike Armstrong was one of 49 men and women who, on Sunday June 23,
became a part of the identity and history of UTS by receiving not only
their diplomas but also the challenge to fulfill the expectations of the
“Help us in these moments,” prayed Dr. Thompson, “to realize that it
is not enough to enjoy the blessing here within this cathedral. Help us
to carry the blessing beyond these walls into all the world as we build
the Kingdom of peace and love and joy.”
This challenge characterized the ceremony and, according to President Theodore Shimmyo, set it apart from the commencement exercises of other schools. “Normally,” he said in his address, “graduation would be an occasion on which graduates receive a warm blessing of encouragement for their future pursuit of personal success and happiness.‘ Given this normal standard at the graduations of those schools, it may not sound right if I speak about bearing all the problems of the world upon your shoulders. But I want to proclaim today that you, as UTS graduates, are the people who have much happier faces, much prouder faces and much brighter faces than anyone else in the world. The reason is that God will be with you as you responsibly shoulder all the problems of the world.”
For the graduates, this was a day for resolution concerning the future and also gratitude for the recent past. In the Graduate Response to President Shimmyo’s remarks, Sandor Vamos, a medical doctor from Hungary, compared his classmates to the Olympians who were soon to gather in Atlanta, Georgia. “Behind them there is the hard work of many people who helped prepare the athletes. Through each of them, all of these trainers and supporters will compete and in this sense we, as a graduating class, are also not alone; we are the embodiment of all of your efforts...The goal of the Olympics is to achieve peace and unity for humankind. We as Seminarians have the same goal, but with a deeper understanding of the need for God to be the center of a united family of humankind.”
This year, the arrival of the Founder remained a possibility until the ceremony began and this added some extra energy and anticipation to the preparations. Finally, it became clear that Reverend Moon’s sermon at Belvedere would rule out his attendance but he was, nevertheless, a tangible presence. In the Founder’s Address, read by President Shimmyo, Reverend Moon described the pain and the repeated setbacks of God’s providence of restoration. “Abel was killed by Cain. Jacob was almost killed by Esau. Even Jesus was crucified. However,” he said, “the time has come when we can finally put an end to all of this. I witness before you that after the successful completion of the tearful 40-year wilderness course, during which time unspeakable suffering and persecution were overcome by unconditional love, God’s elder sonship was completely restored.”
Reverend Moon described how God’s providence could then move forward quickly to the point where, on August 24, 1992, the proclamation of True Parentship could be made in front of the world leaders who were gathered in Korea and in 1993, the Completed Testament Age could be inaugurated. At such a ripe moment in human history, he said, “everything you do for the sake of God’s will will definitely result in great success... Therefore, let us go to the world and embrace it with a spirit of love and sacrifice. In that way, the order of love will be restored at all levels, and world peace will no longer be just an impossible dream but a true reality.”
For many of those present, this ceremony was a deeply moving conclusion to many weeks of work. Traditionally, it is the members of the Junior Class who do most of the hard work of preparation for graduation and, as class president, Prince Tambi faced the responsibility of ensuring its completion. The work, however, became an honor as he began to sense the experience of the graduates. In a written testimony concerning the preparations, he reported that, “by some kind of inductive effect, I was affected with their feelings. Suddenly, they appeared to me as offerings for God’s altar. Every single expression of gratitude and appreciation from them to us sounded like a genuine blessing and not mere words. They were now more precious brothers and sisters and the idea of them going away seemed loathsome. On my part, every stage of the preparation took the form of preparing the altar for the precious offerings - it was no longer a mere duty.”
Many of the graduates were surprised and delighted to welcome Dr. Henry Thompson whose serious illness prevented him from teaching in the Spring term. His appearance outside the chapel was greeted with shouts and bear hugs and it was obvious that Dr. Thompson shared the joy of the moment. He was equally, if not more moved when, during the course of the ceremony, Mr. Farley Jones, Chairman of the Board, announced that Dr. Thompson had been appointed Professor Emeritus by the Board of Trustees. Mrs. Thompson was there to join in the prolonged, standing ovation which greeted this news.
The lunchtime banquet gave some proud parents the opportunity to glory in the talents of their offspring. Jim Humphreys’ mother travelled from California to see her son, the Student Body President, graduate magna cum laude. “I could see that she was very proud of me and was moved by the whole experience,” said Jim. “I think she especially enjoyed the banquet program following the commencement ceremony. During the program, I sang “Battle Hymn of the Republic” together with Ted O’Grady and when I went to sit down, I could see that she had been crying.”
Annette Moss, a member of the R.E. class, was able to share the graduation experience with husband Brett, a member of the Divinity class, and with her parents who travelled from Germany. During the entertainment program, Annette sang a song which her father had taught her when she was a child.
The final student performance came from a group named UTS Africa (United To Serve Africa) who appeared in flowing, traditional robes. Their rendition of the Zairian song, Nzila Zulu, sent a rhythm through the floor and right into every foot in the room.
In his Faculty Remarks, Dr. Michael Mickler, UTS’s Academic Dean, spoke of the various stages and dimensions of the Seminary’s education, emphasizing that the final stage, the encounter with the world in returning to the field, was yet to come. He praised President Shimmyo for insisting on a high level of commitment from those who planned to graduate this year and congratulated those who had been able to make that firm commitment.
The class gift, presented by Jim Humphreys and Alan Saunders, will pay for a new carpet for the Junior Study Room which will be redecorated during the summer as part of the Student Life Campaign.
At the close of the day’s events, most graduates looked forward to a full schedule including Reverend Sudo’s 10-day workshop, a one-week seminar at the Washington Times and a 10-day visit to Alaska at the invitation of Reverend Moon. Other graduates had already been assigned to their missions and left immediately. Reverend Sun Jo Hwang is the new President of the Unification Church of Korea, Reverend Ki Hun Kim is the President of the Canadian Church and Reverend Katsumi Otsuka was recently appointed to the position of Vice President of the Unification Church of Japan. Once again, the Founder demonstrated his faith in the value of a Seminary education and his hope in the graduates as the leaders of the Unification Movement. G.D.