Articles From the June 1994 Unification News


My Time at UTS

by Mike Balcomb-Red Hook, NY

If truth-in-advertising standards apply to articles in the Unification News, and I assume they do, I should begin by pointing out that while I have been enrolled at the Unification Theological Seminary, it has come in for a great deal of scrutiny by its Founder, much of it critical. In his visit just a week ago, Father said he was "greatly disheartened" by the widespread secularization of many seminary graduates, whom he said were thinking of only their families instead of America and the world. Nor did he have much expectation that the current students would turn out any better. "Many of you will fade away," he said. On other occasions, Father has reminded students that up to 90% of what we study is at best irrelevant and at worst plain wrong!

Then what can be made of the testimony that I am about to share? I have enjoyed the seminary experience greatly; I feel that most of what I have learned is helpful, and I would recommend it without reservation to everyone. Am I simply being perverse, or is this an example of British humor, which amounts to the same thing?

Not exactly. I'll confess that I entered UTS in January 1992 with very mixed emotions. The idea to attend had not been my own; rather, Rev. Won Pil Kim, then the President of our movement in Europe, had advised me to study and insisted that I not delay. My earlier academic career was in Natural Science, and Business Management, both fields which attracted me because of their eminent practicality. Theology, church history and biblical study were probably the last three subjects on earth I would have chosen from personal interest.

Two years later, I have to say I was quite wrong in my first assessment. And this is not just another attempt at rationalization, but a genuine realization: seminary life and seminary training has been very good for me.

UTS Learning in Action

Interspersed with my two years at UTS I had the opportunity to work in the former Soviet Union for a total of about eight months, lecturing Divine Principle to High School teachers in 1992, and then participating in the teaching and development of the High School and University Curriculum project in 1993.

I found that my seminary classes were essential to the success of both missions. Faced with an audience who had neither a Christian nor a Western European background, lecturing the Divine Principle became much more challenging. How could it be explained in historical, or psychological terms? How should the significance of Christian history be explained to people for the first time? Without the seminary background, I would have been lost. In fact, I met several brothers and sisters who were lost and who, though doing their best, were simply not equipped to meet the challenge, at least on the intellectual level. Many times I thanked God for sending me to the seminary!

Putting flesh on the bones

Father has often commented that the Divine Principle (i.e. the Black Book) is simply the skeleton of his teaching. But how often do we have the time and opportunity to put the flesh on? That requires the use of a specialized library, the time for long hours of reading and research, and the opportunity to discuss with many others who have made investigations of their own. The seminary is the only place in our movement where these factors come together.

I've also found that the seminary has a rather wide choice of courses. You don't have to be tied down to a narrow course of study at all. For example, in the last few months I've been taking the opportunity to deepen my understanding of Asia, through courses in East Asian Philosophy, Korean Culture, and Christianity in East Asia. The latter course allowed me to investigate a matter that has been troubling me for many years: why could Korean Christianity not accept Father in 1945? Was it just a one-time failure, or had the seeds of disaster been quietly germinating for some time?

Another feature of UTS that has been extremely helpful is the opportunity to study Korean. For the first time, I got beyond the basics of the alphabet. Although there's a long way to go, I have learned how to read and write to some minimum degree of competence-one term I was able to write a ten-page paper on Korean Buddhism, in Korean-and certainly to understand some proportion of Father's words. Most importantly, I have a taste for the language.

Other treasures

In several speeches at UTS, Father said that more than anything else he wanted us to build lasting friendships and relationships whilst at the seminary; with each other, of course, but also with God. And this has certainly been the highlight of my own time at UTS. I've made many really deep friendships, and had first-hand experience of a common bond with other students and graduates as we've met each other in places as far away as Siberia.

But of all these relationships, the most significant for me has been the opportunity and the honor to meet and work with some of the True Family members who have attended and are attending UTS. Last year, Jin Hun Nim became the first member of the True Family to graduate from UTS. I'll never forget the many hours we shared and studied together, or the depth and the honesty with which he shared his heart and experiences with True Parents. Then, after his graduation, we met again in Russia, where he launched himself with great determination into that important work. Would this have been possible without UTS? I'm sure it wouldn't.

Now my own graduation is just two months away. Father has issued us with a stern warning, but it comes from his love and expectation. I know that he still hopes and prays for UTS students to take up the heavenly mandate. Pray for us-and join us!


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