Articles From the March 1995 Unification News


UTS Oratory Contest

by Michael Armstrong

Shedding real tears and pounding the podium vigorously, Jerry Chesnut portrayed the frustration and anger of a faithful mother, wife of an atheist, as she tried to pass on her faith to a reluctant 12-year-old.

Jerry's ten-minute speech won him first prize in the Unification Theological Seminary's 19th Annual David S.C. Kim Oratorical contest March 1. He and seven other contestants address the topic: "Passing On Our Religious Tradition To The Next Generation."

"Because of this year's motto, I selected this topic as the most timely and appropriate of a list of possible topics presented to me by the Student Council," UTS President Dr. Theodore Shimmyo said.

A Divinity Senior graduating in June, Jerry has a background in theater which was evident in his dramatic presentation. Starting with a personal testimony from childhood, Jerry's presentation quickly moved into an acting tour de force. He convincingly depicted the frustration a child must feel when he is upset at his father's lack of religious conviction. Jerry expressed the child's angst through dramatically pounding his fist on the podium and depicting the child's frustration through acting out the situation of confronting his father over religious tradition. The subsequent anger of the child was keenly conveyed. Jerry portrayed the child frustrated to hysterics through stomping, pounding and yelling which culminated in his vivid depiction of a television crashing to the floor. It was the combination of conviction and drama that moved the judges to award Jerry first prize for his moving testimony.

Second and third prizes went to Michael Kiely and Raman Montanaro respectively with honorable mentions for Simon Bedelo and Rachel Carter.

Second place winner, Michael Kiely, a Divinity Senior also graduating in June, poignantly expressed the concerns of a parental heart. Michael related the story of his 16-year-old son who bravely confronted a public speaker at his school who had condemned his religious tradition, the Unification Church, as a cult. There was an intimacy in Michael's presentation in the way he alluded to his wife, Maria, and their children. He spoke on the necessity of parents being role models to their children and that it is through the love, teaching and example of the parents that religious tradition is passed on and inherited.

Raman Montanaro, a Divinity Senior graduating in June 1995 and the third place winner, put the problem of passing on tradition in an historical light. He spoke eloquently of Jesus' difficulty in passing on his tradition which ultimately became inherited by his disciple, Peter, who had betrayed him. The apostle Paul struggled with inheriting the tradition which is evident in his statement that he mind is willing but the flesh is weak. Raman broadened his scope to include Buddhism which became divided into the paths of Theravada and Mahayana, and also to the problems of tradition evident in Hinduism which has been splintered into numerous different castes with different beliefs. Judges for the contest were Academic Dean and philosopher Dr. Jennifer Tanabe, New Testament scholar Dr. Richard Arthur, expert in world religions Dr. David Carlson, historian Dr. Michael Mickler and Dean of Students and theologian Dr. Deitrich Seidel. The event was well attended by students and faculty who filled the room to near capacity.

Other highlights of the evening included the entertainment. Soo Burkhardt, a trained opera singer, and contestant Simon Bedelo gave a moving duet. Junior Student Satoko Motoyama gave an exquisite rendition of a Chopin prelude, accompanied by Chef Lloyd Anderson on piano. The entertainment moved the judges, sequestered in a back room deciding on the results, to momentarily forgo their judging out of their peaked curiosity to view the entertainment.

President Theodore Shimmyo made the awards presentation. Jerry was presented with the trophy, handed down since the contest's inception in 1976. His name will be inscribed on the trophy in keeping with UTS tradition.


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