Unification News for June 2002

The Twenty-sixth Annual Commencement at UTS

by Chris Corcoran

The Unification Theological Seminary held its 26th Commencement on Saturday, June 22 with 19 students receiving Master of Religious Education degrees and 5 students receiving Master of Divinity degrees.

In his congratulatory remarks, Seminary President Tyler O. Hendricks told the graduates, "When God closes a door, He always opens a window somewhere." Hendricks said that "the door to UTS student life is now closed to you, and you have to find a window." He challenged the graduates to "pull your mind away from the closing door, and see God's window."

The Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak, chairman of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace and faithful follower of our True Parents for more than 44 years, received an honorary doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Unification Theological Seminary, only the third such degree granted since the seminaryís founding 28 years ago. Last year, the seminary bestowed its first two honorary doctorates upon the Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, founders of UTS.

Reverend Kwak, is also chairman of the board of both Sun Moon University in Korea and the University of Bridgeport, in Connecticut. He is the chairman of the Washington Times, one of Americaís most often quoted daily newspapers.

As a respected theologian and teacher, Rev. Kwak has traveled the world to well over 100 nations, bringing a message of living for the sake of others and practicing the ideals of true love.

Rev. Kwak was introduced by Dr. Neil Salonen, president of the University of Bridgeport, who told of the incredibly difficult circumstances surrounding the founding of the Unification Church in the 1950s in war-torn Korea, and how the earliest disciples in the church, such as Rev. Kwak, faced tremendous challenges in both faith and practice.

After receiving his degree, Rev. Kwak gave the commencement address to a group of more than 300 students, faculty, family and friends who attended the commencement ceremony. Rev. Kwak urged the graduating students to always have a relationship with the living God and to follow in the Founderís footsteps by transcending religious, racial and national boundaries. "Rev. Moon fully and completely internalized Godís will for true love and world peace and transmitted it to others," said Kwak. He then instructed the graduates to carry on that tradition by living an exemplary family life and becoming a living example of the ideal.

"Our primary responsibility is always to connect to Godís true love and live for the sake of others in our daily lives," said Rev. Kwak. He went on to explain how the international marriage blessings that are conducted by the Rev. and Mrs. Moon are "cutting off evil at its root".

Rev. Kwak ended his address on a powerful note, declaring to the graduates, "You graduate today, not as scholars and theologians only, but as Öpartners of the living God, leaders of the true love revolution that will transform the world!"

Eight of Rev. Kwakís children or their spouses have already graduated from UTS. He and his wife, Jung Un Yoon, were blessed in marriage by Rev. and Mrs. Moon in 1961 as part of the 36-couple blessing ceremony. They have six children and 22 grandchildren.

Graduate Ken Saito, who plans on returning to Japan, explained why he came to study at UTS. "We can explain many kinds of reasons, but I would like to simply say the following. If we just want to enter heaven, we do not need come to UTS. But, if we want to establish heaven on earth, we have to come to UTS. Thatís why God needs UTS. Thatís why Father asks us to go to UTS."

Another graduate, In Chul Bak from Korea, experienced many struggles during is time at UTS but came to came to a deep realization. "Through UTS life, I could learn much about the American culture, which influences most other cultures. I tried to have a better relationship with my wife, for true love, and I could have self-confidence not only about English but also about overcoming international boundaries.

"Those things were unexpected for me. If I didnít come here to UTS, I couldnít learn these points. This is the answer of why I had to be a member of UTS. Even though I donít know where I will go after graduation, one thing is clear. Life at UTS and its experiences will become my shield and weapon. Itís like the story of somebody old who is near death and he looks back at his life and says, "It was about love". I would like to say, in retrospect of my UTS experience, ĎIt was about the true love of God.í "

Two of this year's graduating class will pursue doctoral studies in theology. Additionally, Christian Tekwe, a member of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon and the first non-Unificationist Christian to graduate from the Seminary, will undertake graduate work in public health. Other graduates will pursue a variety of ministries in North America, Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

More than 1,100 students have graduated from the Seminary since its founding in 1975. It is a center of leadership training for members of the Unification Church.

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