Unity In Diversity - Essays in religion by members of the faculty of the Unification Theological Seminary - Edited by Henry O. Thompson - 1984

The Unification Theological Seminary -- Henry O. Thompson and Therese Stewart

At the entrance to the chapel of UTS -- the Unification Theological Seminary -- a bronze plaque has been fastened to the wall as a new cornerstone. The plaque is a gift of the class of 1978. It indicates that the seminary was founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon on September 20, 1975. The first class graduated in 1977 and the second, represented in the bronze plaque, graduated in 1978. So much for beginnings, in the formal sense of the term.

The real beginning is somewhat earlier. The UTS catalogue describes the beginning as going back to at least 1954, when in a small dwelling in Seoul, Korea, the founder of this Seminary drew up the outline for the association now known as the Unification Church International, which today has "daughter churches in more than 120 nations."

Another beginning is the purchase of the defunct Christian Brothers Academy in Barrytown, New York, 90 miles north of New York City, on a bluff overlooking the beautiful Hudson River, ten miles north of Kingston. The Academy is itself a part of this story as is the land on which it, now UTS, stands.

An officer of the American Revolution, Major John R. Livingston, built a home here in 1796. He called his place Massena House, after a French Marshal in the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. Tradition says that in 1868, nine-year-old Teddy Roosevelt spent several months visiting in this Massena House. The building burned down in 1885 but it was replaced by a smaller and different style of house which still stands today opposite the chapel and its plaque, across the circular drive which is now part of the main entrance to the school. This new Massena House, now nearly a century old, was extensively repaired and refurbished in the Fall of 1982, restoring it, if not to its pristine glory, at least to serviceability, and to its ability to withstand the sun and the rain, the snow and the cold of this lovely area. The House serves today as the home of several UTS families.

Jonn Baptiste De La Salle (1651-1719) was born in Rheims, France. At the age of 16, he was a canon in the Rheims church, a position held by four different popes. Instead of the Papacy, John turned to education. He and Adrien Nyel started the first school for poor boys, offering them an education hitherto reserved for the rich who could afford tutors. John went on to found the first professional school for teachers. He started a Normal School for boys who wanted to become part of the Brothers of the Christian School ("Fraters Scholarum Christianarum") which he founded. At the age of 53, he started yet another school, for the middle class, where he taught practical skills such as commerce and math. His use of French instead of Latin stirred up a storm of protest. While education is taken for granted today, La Salle and his Christian Brothers suffered for daring to educate outside the proscribed tradition of their day.

By the time St. John (canonized in 1900) died, his order had 274 Brothers teaching 9,000 pupils in 26 houses across the face of France. In 1843, the movement spread to the United States. In 1950, St. John became the Patron Saint of Teachers. A Christian Brother, Jeffrey Gros, was elected director of the Commission of Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches in 1983, after serving as acting director for a year and a half.

The Christian Brothers acquired land at Pocantico Hills, NY, in the late 1880s. They started a novitiate there in 1905 and in 1909 imported 16 stained glass windows from France. John D. Rockefeller bought their land in 1928 for $850,000. He gave them a gift of one million dollars. They bought the 250 acre property at Barrytown and in 1930 finished building the present Seminary structure, shaped like an "H" in ground plan. The wings are four stories high while the cross-bar has two stories. The chapel, on the second floor of the cross-bar, was built to include the 16 French windows. Eight of these tell the story of De La Salle's life. One pictures Brother Joseph who directed the American work in 1900. The French cathedrals of Notre Dame and St. Sulpice (where La Salle went to school as a child), and St. Peter's in Rome, are included.

The chapel was the spiritual center for the Christian Brothers and it remains so for UTS. Worship services each morning are led by students, faculty, and visiting clergy and speakers. Sunday services are held in the chapel though students also attend services in local churches. Prayer and study groups are both spontaneous and sponsored by the Seminary. "Central to the fulfillment of Seminary goals is the creation of a climate in which the development of a rich personal relationship with God is respected as the most important aspect of life. Prayer and worship are seen as an integral part of Seminary life, and a relationship with God is seen as a foundation for deepening relationships with others."1 The chapel is always open for individual prayer and meditation.

In 1965, the school was renovated. In the chapel, inlaid lights replaced the chandeliers. The stone altar was installed, to symbolize the Old and New Testament. The metal circle over the altar is said to define the sacred space, the Holy of Holies. A new steel girder was placed across the kitchen ceiling to hold up the altar. A stone holy water font was placed in the foyer.

Silence and class separation were the rule in St. Joseph's Normal School. The high school students ate in what today is UTS' main dining room on the ground floor at the east end of the cross-bar of the "H," while the novices ate in today's student lounge at the west end of the cross-bar, beneath the chapel. The faculty and retired Brothers ate in the smaller rooms parallel to the lounge, along the hallway to the kitchen. The novices stayed in the northwest dorm, today's women's dorm. High school students were housed in the east wings while the other Brothers were in the southwest wing, today's staff and guest rooms. The novices' common room for study and classes is today's Lecture Hall II, in the northwest wing. Below it, the Do Jang, the training room for the martial art of Wonwha-do, used to be a meeting room, barber shop, tailor shop and audiovisual room. Today's typing room in the east wing was the chem lab for the Brothers. The high school student's common room is today's Lecture Hall I on the second floor over the main dining room.

The Christian Brothers Institute closed in 1970. In 1974, the Unification Church bought the property. In October, 1974, Rev. Moon appointed David S.C. Kim to start a Seminary here. The history of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC), or simply, the Unification Church, is shared in earlier sections of this text. Here it needs to be noted that education was a part of Rev. Moon's vision and dream from the earliest years of his ministry In his inaugural address at the Seminary's founding he referred to the Seminary as the Cornerstone of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Seminary's President, Mr. David S. C. Kim, was one of the first Unification missionaries to the United States (Portland, Oregon, 1959). One of the Seminary's first faculty, Dr. Young Oon Kim, is also one of the first missionaries to the U.S. (Eugene, Oregon, 1959). Earlier, Dr. Kim was a professor at Ehwa University in Seoul. A Methodist with strong interest in the work of Emmanuel Swedenborg, Dr. Kim joined the Unification movement in 1954. She remains the only full time faculty person at UTS who is a Unificationist. She teaches theology and in a sense is not only the theologian for UTS, but for the entire movement, a living example of the tradition that a seminary is called to be a "think tank" for the church. Her work in world religions has prepared her in a unique way for the worldwide concerns of the Unification movement.

The faculty has grown somewhat from its beginnings in 1975. It now includes as full time staff an Orthodox Jewish rabbi teaching the Hebrew Scriptures and Judaism, a Greek Orthodox teaching Church history, a Korean Confucianist scholar teaching oriental philosophy and the philosophy of religion, a Roman Catholic psychologist teaching counseling and the psychology of religion, a United Methodist teaching religion and society (homiletics, world religions, ethics, ministry), an evangelical scholar teaching the Greek Scriptures. Adjunct faculty include United Methodists, Roman Catholics, Dutch Reform, Presbyterian, and Unificationists at both the graduate and post-graduate stages. Visiting lecturers have come from across the spectrum of human traditions of East and West, North and South.

The students also come from a cross section of the American and the human scene. They come initially to a two-year diploma program in Religious Education, which in time will hopefully be a Master's degree (M.R.E.). In 1980, a new three-year diploma program was begun which hopefully will in time be a Master's in Divinity (M. Div.). Each Fall, about 50 new students arrive and each June since 1977, about 50 students graduate. The Alumni Association now numbers over 300 women and men, many in the United States, but others scattered over the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, as well as Australia and the islands of the seas. Several dozen alumni are pursuing graduate studies in various universities from Massachusetts to California.

The diversity of faculty and students is a part of the purpose of the Seminary as it "seeks to promote interfaith, interracial and international unity." Part of this purpose is also sought through a variety of conferences sponsored by UTS on ministry, life styles, doctrine, religious freedom, and interfaith dialogue in general. The main focus of the school, like any other, is of course its academic program. Courses are taught in Biblical studies, Jewish history, theology, world religions, ministry, religious education, philosophy, psychology, and related areas such as pastoral counseling, Biblical archaeology, the Kingdom of God, ethics, and Home Church. The last is a general program of the Unification movement which involves visitation in neighborhood homes, assistance to the elderly and other neighborhood services such as youth centers, day-care centers, clean-up campaigns, raising money for C.R.O.R through walkathons. Visitation includes sharing the program and teachings of the Unification movement as well as service and entertainment and simply being a good neighbor. UTS participates actively in this general program.

The students are on work-scholarships, which means they provide much of the effort in serving meals, washing dishes, cleaning and maintaining the building and grounds, staffing the post office, bookstore and information booth, and caring for many of the other necessities of life normal to any school. There are several extras, however, such as taking care of the horses, digging and maintaining a pond, planting trees, developing nature walks, stocking the pond with golden carp rescued from the polluted Hudson River. Some of the land has been farmed, primarily for vegetables for the Seminary but also for distribution to people in need in the area. Students assisted in the repair of Massena House and in the building of the soccer field and tennis courts, and the new library. Such "Peace Corps" type activities have been valuable in post-graduate work in the U.S. and the Third World. Some of it was directed by former Peace Corps volunteers.

Besides serving as missionaries to various parts of the world, UTS graduates serve in the Unification "Ocean Church" program which includes commercial fishing and establishing worship and teaching centers. Some work in, or as directors of, state centers in each of the 50 states of the U.S. Numbers of them are in the program on college campuses known as the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP). Some work is with the Unification newspapers and other publications, fishing and boat building companies, and other commercial activities either of the Unification movement or their own, parallel to what Protestants call a "tent-making ministry" or the "worker-priest movement" of Roman Catholicism.

Life is not all work and no play. The usual run of school activities include tennis, baseball, volleyball, soccer, intramural basketball, boating, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, plays, entertainment nights, movies, music, art, photography and debates. One particular activity noted earlier is Wonhwa-do, a martial arts developed by former UTS faculty member and administrator, Dr. Joon Seuk, now the Director of CARP. The martial arts sometimes appear to be a form of exercise or alternately a way of self-defense in a day of high street crime and home burglaries. Dr. Seuk, however, explains Wonhwa-do as a spiritual discipline which brings unity to body and mind. Such a unity of body, mind and spirit seems singularly appropriate to a school and a movement dedicated to the unity of humanity.

Local activities are supplemented by individual, class or Seminary trips to museums, art galleries, churches, religious communities, and the many attractions of New York City -- "The Big Apple." Here the Unification movement also has its national headquarters, three newspapers -- The New York Tribune, Noticias del Mundo, and The Unification News (a fourth is the Washington Times in Washington, DC), a symphony orchestra and various other musical and theatrical groups. Seminarians also participate heavily in such programs as the annual International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences sponsored by the International Cultural Foundation. At "home," the students produce "The Mid-Hudson Tide," a monthly community-service newsletter for and about local activities included in the Home Church areas, and "The Cornerstone," a monthly newsletter about UTS and Unification programs. "The Mid-Hudson Tide" is produced in the Seminary's own print shop operated by students. The shop also prints special bulletins and other programs.

The New ERA -- The New Ecumenical Research Association -- is a program that developed at UTS under the direction of Head Librarian, John Maniatis. New ERA has held over 50 conferences in many parts of the world and published over a dozen books based on the papers presented on theological issues, religious freedom, life styles, etc. It was formally founded in March, 1980, after preliminary conferences over the previous three years. The Global Congress of the World's Religions (GCWR) is another "spin-off of UTS. It was begun by former UTS faculty, Dr. Warren Lewis, with the support of President Kim, to encourage interfaith dialogue among the religious traditions of the world. Three preliminary annual meetings (San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles) led to a formal founding in November, 1980, at Miami Beach. Subsequent meetings include Seoul and Philadelphia besides regional meetings in England, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Four volumes of proceedings have been published.

No description of UTS would be complete without reference to the library It began as shelves or "stacks "in one of the two gymnasiums in the east wing of the building. In 1980, the opposite gym at the northeast was remodeled with a main floor added, to provide new stacks, new study areas, an attractive well-lighted air conditioned periodical and reading room, microfilm and office space. The library now subscribes to almost 500 periodicals, and has over 20,000 volumes. Academic committees visiting UTS for charter and accreditation review have commented on its strength, surprisingly high for a new school, as they have also positively reviewed the entire academic program. The library was specifically cited by these committees when they recommended to the Board of Regents that the Seminary be granted the Provisional Charter for which it applied in April, 1975.


1. Unification Theological Seminary Catalogue 1982/83.


Kopacz, Kasia and Martin, Chad. "Welcome: The Unification Theological Seminary." No date. Their sources for the Christian Brothers and the Barrytown property include personal conversations with Brothers Bernard Peter, Peter Drake, Thomas Scanlon, Andrew Winka, Augustine Loes, and Mr. Morrison, a Barrytown teacher at the Institute. Written sources include: Brother Leo Kirby, I, John Baptiste de la Salle (Winone, MN: Saint Mary's Press, 1980); Martin Dempsey, John Baptiste de la Salle (Milwaukee: Bruce Publ. Co., 1940); Edward Fitzpatrick, La Salle, Patron of All Teachers (Milwaukee: Bruce Publ. Co., 1951); and Angelus Gabriel, The Christian Brothers in the United States, 1848-1948 (Declan X. McMullen, 1948).

Quebedeaux, Richard. "Korean Missionaries to America," New Conversations 6, No. 3 (Spring '82), pp. 6-15.

Unification News, 2, No. 6, (June '83), p. 2.

Unification Theological Seminary Catalogue 1982/83. This or a later edition is available from the Office of the Dean, 10 Dock Rd., Barrytown, NY 12507. The catalogue includes complete information on admission requirements, fees, course work and community life.

Personal communications from faculty, staff, students and friends. 

Table of Contents

Tparents Home

Moon Family Page

Unification Library