Unification News for July 2001
UTS 25th Commencement
by Dr. Tyler Hendricks
The crowd that jammed the Seminary chapel was cheering before True Parents were even announced. They filled all the chairs we could squeeze in, and the extra rows in the balcony, and the pews from 43rd street that lined the walls front to back. The Seminary Board members and faculty had entered, and then the class of 2001, led by Hyun Jin Nim and Jun Sook Nim. Everyone turned toward the entrance and cheered because they knew that True Parents were about to enter.
Rewind two months. "We have to grant True Parents honorary doctorates," I proposed, "They have introduced the vision of a world based on true love. They have created a theology of heart that resolves the chaos of theology and philosophy. They are leading humankind centered on the living God and the love of family. They have…" Case closed. Our Academic Dean, Dr. Andrew Wilson (UTS ’78), discovered that UTS does in fact have the authority to grant honorary doctorates. Although we are unworthy to present such to our True Parents, it is without doubt that the first honorary doctorates must be offered to them.
On the 25th Commencement of the Unification Theological Seminary, June 21, 2001, as True Parents entered the chapel, the cheering of the 500-plus crowd intensified. Graduates’ family and friends, church leaders from around the world, including Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, Rev. Jung Og Yu, Rev. Sun Jo Hwang (UTS ’96), Rev. Hideo Oyamada, and Rev. Michael Jenkins (UTS ’77), Continental Directors, National Messiahs, UTS alumni, and church members from the local area. The organ played majestic themes as our Reverend and Mrs. Moon, dressed in academic gowns, marched up the center aisle. As they turned their gaze above them, they viewed the symbols of the world’s religions on 12 colorful 8-foot Laliberte banners extending outwards from the chapel walls under the 20-foot tall stained glass windows. Light shimmered as hosts of heaven representing all religions joined the welcoming throng.
Honoring the True Family
"And how can we highlight the leaders of our movement’s new generation, Hyun Jin Nim and Jun Sook Nim?" Our Continental Director, Dr. Chang Shik Yang (UTS ‘96), answered this question as he created a new tradition for our commencements, beginning with this one. This tradition is that church elders will commemorate the re-entry of the new graduates back to the mission field immediately after receiving their degree. They will do so by moving the tassel on the "mortarboard" hat from right to left. In the case of Hyun Jin Nim and Jun Sook Nim, Father himself would move the tassel.
The 39 members of the graduating class felt that True Parents had come just for them. Indeed they had, on this, the seventh time the Seminary’s founders participated in a Commencement ceremony, and the first since 1987. Francesco Santelli’s choir performed inspirational works by Mozart, Thygerson and Mendelssohn, as I, the school’s President, (UTS ’78), Vice-president Dr. Michael Mickler (UTS ’77), and Dr. Wilson conferred the Honorary Doctorates. I presented the diplomas, written in Latin according to ancient university tradition, in which theology is the "queen of the sciences."
Placing True Parents’ doctoral hoods upon them were Dr. Kyung June Lee, president of Sun Moon University, and Dr. Neil Albert Salonen, president of the University of Bridgeport. This represented the bonds of kinship between the three primary institutions of higher education built by our True Parents. Joining Dr. Lee and President Salonen were Farley Jones, Esq. (UTS ’78), Chairman of the UTS Board of Trustees, and Dr. Kathy Winings (UTS ’85), Dean of the UTS Extension Center in New York City. True Parents beamed amidst the luxuriant flowers and foliage that bedecked the stage of the chapel.
Rev. Dr. David J. Billings, III, Archbishop of the United Fellowship of Churches, and Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman of the Interreligious International Federation for World Peace, offered congratulatory remarks to our True Parents and to the graduating class. Rev. Kwak moved the audience to tears as he recounted True Parents’ course of triumph through suffering. Dr. Billings reminded the graduates that beyond academic degrees, their mission is to be servants of humankind.
During the program the audience recognized Dr. David S. C. Kim, the school’s first president (1975-1994) and now President Emeritus, and Dr. Theodore Shimmyo (UTS ’77), its second president (1994-2000). Acknowledged with great applause in addition was Dr. Joseph MacMahon, professor of religious psychology and counseling for twenty-five years, now retiring as Professor Emeritus.
The first degrees were conferred upon Hyun Jin Nim and Jun Sook Nim. Hyun Jin Nim, it was noted, had the highest grade point average in his class, and Jun Sook Nim had the second highest. Both graduated magna cum laude. As the recipients of the Master’s Degree in Religious Education and Master’s of Divinity received their degrees, they were welcomed and congratulated first by Dr. Yang, who moved their tassel, and then by Rev. Michael Jenkins.
My own remarks were punctuated by the unveiling from the balcony of a fishing net made by True Father on the Seminary grounds in the spring of 1977. [See insert.] Rev. Hyun Jin Moon’s remarks followed. He noted that the purpose of God is not simply to establish institution after institution, but to create harmony of all humankind, in which His love embraces and develops through true families.
The culminating speaker was our True Father, who delivered the traditional Founder’s Address. His basic text was the address that he delivered at the United Nations event on May 28. It summarized his teachings on the recent 50-state speaking tour of America, and the core content presented at the Coronation Ceremony of God’s Kingship on January 13 of this year. Upon this structure he attached numerous related themes and concerns, amounting finally to a speech of nearly 4 hours. This was a record for Seminary commencements and probably for all graduation ceremonies. It was not a very hot day, but those wearing robes felt they were in a steam bath, as did, I’m sure, True Father, who consumed at least 8 full glasses of water during the speech. Gillian Corcoran (UTS ’85) led a small group of seminary wives serving cool drinks to graduates, Board and faculty and stage party.
The Founder issued a call for the Seminary to maintain its founding vision as an interreligious school, emphasizing the importance of a thorough knowledge of all the world’s religions. They serve, indeed, as the necessary foundation for recognizing the significance of True Parents’ teachings and ministry. He also explained the importance of lineage, and challenged the school to provide its students a grasp of the innermost core of God’s heart and truth, that which culminates in His true love and true life being incarnated and carried forth through the joyful expansion of and engrafting into His true lineage.
The ceremony concluded with an impassioned prayer by His Grace Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, former Archbishop of Lusaka. With respect and reverence, he honored our True Parents and the school of theology that they founded.
The evening proceeded joyfully with a dinner shared by the over 800 people in attendance. At that time of day, the Seminary events merged with the celebration of the 39th Day of All True Things, as the crowd made its way into the Seminary’s new conference center. This room, formerly a martial arts dojang, has been restored to its original glory as the facility’s premiere meeting hall. With its extended stage it holds 600 comfortably (300 classroom style), and all seats were filled for the David Eaton production of the holy day entertainment. The UTS rock band, the Ishiyama Hendricks Experience, launched the program with high-energy renditions of "Song of the Young People" and "Johnny B. Goode." Emcee Rev. Levy Daugherty lauded the hamburgers and rock music that America has provided the world, and excellence with stringed instruments continued with an instrumental trio offered by our Japanese Family Federation. Attired in traditional clothing, the energy and tonal and rhythmic intensity they offered was a fine complement to the power of rock music.
There followed three performers who won the recent "Spring Jam" competition of our second-generation artists, directed by Rev. Daryl Clarke at the Manhattan Center. Heung Kook Yang played an amazing solo on soprano saxophone, Chris Alan Derflinger performed a mesmerizing original song, "Barefoot in the Snow," accompanying himself with consummate ease and grace on the electronic keyboard, and Elisa Servito performed a lovely classical Chinese dance. The audience was truly uplifted by these offspring of our blessed couples.
The UTS graduating class then presented a class gift to the school—a financial offering toward the installation of high-speed internet access, received with gratitude by the Seminary president. The junior class presented the Class of 2001 plaque, and we viewed a new video about the history and spirit of the school, entitled "UTS 2001," composed by Jennifer Tanabe and new UTS Business Manager Chris Corcoran (UTS ’86). Rev. Michael Jenkins, President of the Family Federation in America, encouraged the graduates and everyone present to devote their energies to building God’s kingdom through the combined energies of all Christian churches. His remarks led into a video presentation of the events surrounding True Parents’ 50-state tour and the interfaith blessing of May 27.
Readers of this publication surely are aware of the power and glory in these events, so I will not rehearse them here. Leave it be said, however, that the UTS audience was inspired deeply, and were appropriately prepared to receive the finale, a duet featuring Rev. Phillip Thomas, of the Church of God in Christ and Saints, and Rev. Levy Daugherty. As they sang "Sweet, Sweet Spirit," "Ain’t Got No Doubt," and "Amazing Grace," alumni, friends, faculty and finally Archbishop Milingo came dancing up onto the stage. This liberated moment was capped when Dr. Yang invited Dr. David S. C. Kim to give his benedictory remarks, present a gift honoring the Coronation Ceremony of God’s Kingship, and lead us in concluding cheers of mansei.
The evening concluded with many hugs and handshakes. Rev. Jenkins remarked that he had never experienced an event so joyful at the Seminary.
Striving for Excellence
The real story of the 2001 Commencement is the story of a community that pulled together for the greater glory of God and True Parents. The students, staff and faculty, and entire Red Hook church community coaxed into view the beauty of Barrytown. There was the Controller, Cliff Yasutake, cutting lawns and budgets wherever he could find one. There was a new community member, Marcus Thonett, doing miraculous restoration work on the statuary, with the help of his wife Tessa, our Seminary Admissions Director. Patrick, Michael, Joseph, Mary—you haven’t looked this good in years. There were Michael and Kufre Akpan (UTS ‘98), Daniel, Jacques and Adamson scraping and painting walls and doorways inside and out. At all hours Jae Sook Park, Fumishige Kobayashi, Mr. Yu, Roger Burbury (UTS ’86), Insung Moon and virtually everyone was cleaning, mopping, dusting and washing. There was Shawn Byrne and his family cleaning the windows of the breezeways. Chris and Gillian Corcoran mobilized the local high school Sunday School group to plant hundreds of flowers around the front of the building. Gillian and Vera Tsumagari did the traditional "stay-up-all-night-making-flower-arrangements" condition, including last-minute requests for everything we could possibly in anyone’s wildest imagination have use for, and Chris Corcoran’s work with the media led to front-page stories in the Poughkeepsie and Kingston papers.
Special mention goes to Howie Callies, who was everywhere at once mowing, moving, carting and clearing. Eternal thanks goes to Dr. Jaekil Park, our school physician and Board of Trustees member, who has been investing for years with love for our hills and dales. Together, Dr. Park and Mr. Callies turned a wilderness into a parkland. The parking for over 200 cars and six buses could have been a tangled up traffic jam, but went extremely smoothly due to the preparation of lots, routes, ropes, flags and signs by underclassman Keith McMurdie. The Tanabe’s, Yuichi and Jennifer, served with love setting up the sound system for the two halls and jumped into the "Last Minute Productions" mode to produce the "UTS 2001" video.
There was our indefatigable kitchen staff led by Reiko Mickler, with Etsuo Iwamoto, Kazunori Arase, Mary France Dougherty, Misako Park and many more. When the lunch schedule changed with 24-hours notice, they gracefully digested it and did what they had to do: stay up most of the night. To the guest, everything seems effortless, and it should, because of the effort invested by the host.
Then there were Vera, Johanna Forringer, Kyoko Hussein, Eiko Suzuki, Sayuri Sanchez, Junko Williams and many other sisters who recreated the True Family suite, dining room and bathrooms into their best-ever condition. And we can never forget the brick and mortar and nuts and bolts guys, Joe O’Connell, who restored walls and painted True Parents’ suite and the chapel (40 feet off the ground), Phil Silvernail, who figured out how to hang the chapel banners and actually did it, and Carl Verderber, known also as Charlemagne, who seems able and willing, even driven, to fix anything invented by man or beast.
The centerpiece of our heart’s concern was the hospitality and love we show our True Parents and True Family. The meals were crucial and Mrs. Kang, Mrs. Roh, Jung Sook, Mrs. Oh, Mrs. Sung, Mrs. Chung Run Kim, and the generous support of Mr. Sato and Mr. Tashiro from the Tenkai Restaurant that made True Parents’ meals special. Besides food there is clothing, and Claire Yasutake in particular made a great effort to procure the right regalia for the Honorary Doctorates in Sacred Theology.
Then there is the year-after-year commitment to academic achievement and public responsibility taken by the core Seminary staff. Ute Delaney and Mary McConville, Registrar and Faculty Secretary, maintained an incredibly steady presence taking care of the academic procedures, production of diplomas, production of transcripts and organization of ceremony that under girds every commencement. Dr. Andrew Wilson, Academic Dean, put the program through at least 7 drafts before arriving at the final, balanced achievement. A final word of deepest appreciation goes to Dr. Michael Mickler for his work organizing and overseeing all aspects of the event.
Liberating the Cross
This report cannot end without mention of the lightning strike of the Seminary cross. On the evening of June 11, there was a thunderstorm in the mid-Hudson Valley. A bolt of lightning struck the five-foot high stone cross that has stood at the top of our Seminary for its 70 years of existence. The cross is not grounded, so the energy had no place to go but out horizontally. This snapped the cross at its base, separating it from the building, and blew off both arms. One arm fell with the pillar of the cross backwards onto the roof. The other careened forward, with pieces falling upon building parapets and to the ground as far as 60 feet away. No one was hurt, but one car suffered damage.
As a symbol of Christ’s suffering and salvific love for all humankind, the cross is heroic and magnificent. But as a symbol of humankind’s malice toward God expressed by crucifying His son, the cross induces pain and sorrowful grief to God. While a symbol of God’s victory, it is also a symbol of human sin. In 1974, Father Moon directed that the cross remain atop our Seminary. Upon hearing of its demise this June, he said that it is now time for all crosses to come down.
In its place, the Unification Theological Seminary will help raise up a banner of the oneness of God and humankind, culminating the expectations of all religions, beyond the cross into the resurrection and life eternal on earth and in Heaven. For this cause we gratefully offer our 25th Commencement Ceremony.
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