Unification News for June 2002

Climax of a Fantastic Year at UTS

Launching its Second Quarter Century, UTS Graduates the Core 24; Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak Receives Honorary Doctorate

by Dr. Tyler Hendricks

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. Emcee Dr. Michael Mickler, UTS Vice President, welcomed more than 300 faculty from the main campus and Extension Center, administration, supportive clergy, family, friends and neighbors to a great beginning to UTS’ second quarter century.

It was a small graduating class, the smallest in UTS’ history. So, this graduation of new Unification Church leaders was all the more historic, memorable and meaningful. The small size of the class reflected the difficulties UTS was having two to four years ago, when these students were entering. At that time people were talking of UTS packing up and moving away. I myself entertained such thoughts. The admissions office was instructed to stop recruiting new students. So this graduating class is a hardy band of believers, who committed themselves to UTS when we were in our hour of greatest struggle. To them, we offer our gratitude and recognition.

The Role of the Seminary

Robert K. Greenleaf, in his work, The Power of Servant Leadership, perceives in society a hierarchy of institutions. At the top, influencing and guiding all the others, he puts seminaries and foundations. Foundations have the resources and the opportunity to gain perspective that enables them to provide conceptual leadership to colleges and universities. Seminaries are in a strategic position to give similar support to churches. In turn, he writes, "both churches and universities are well placed to give nurture and guidance to individuals and to the whole range of ‘operating’ institutions: governments, businesses, schools, hospitals, communities and families. Any effort to aid our ailing society might well start with a consideration of how the leadership of foundations and seminaries … might be made more effective."

I was inspired by Mr. Greenleaf’s perception, as it aligns perfectly with that of our Seminary Founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon. This perception was conveyed as well by Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, in the keynote address of UTS Commencement 2002:

"As the center of leadership training for the members of our movement, UTS is a place of immense historical and spiritual significance. Our True Parents founded this seminary in 1975 with a clear vision centering on the true love of God, and linked to the most urgent and noble task of restoring America and the world, by renewing and fulfilling the spirit and mission of Christianity and the world’s religions."

Rev. C. H. Kwak Receives Honorary Doctorate

Reverend Kwak received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology, honoris causa, the third recipient of this honor from UTS, following in the footsteps of the Founding Couple, who were accorded this distinction in 2001. 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 America’s 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 spoke 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.

His gentle wisdom edified this year’s graduates, as he counseled them, "Our movement, and the seminary, stand on the foundation of the Founder’s direct, heartistic experience and knowledge of the living God."

Reverend Kwak also fascinated the UTS Board of Trustees at the Trustees’ luncheon with his first-hand report on the Founders’ decade of development of soccer clubs in Korea and Brazil. His work lifted up Korea as a world soccer power and as the co-host of this year’s World Cup.

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

The Spirit of the School

How would I capture the distinguishing characteristics of the academic year we just brought to a close? I have two ways. One, I consider it to have been the Year of the Students. Led by a large cadre of Korean church leaders, our student body has invested their hearts into improving UTS, beginning with their first week here, when they spent two days removing the wax built up for two decades on the dining room floor. I would like to think we were all scraping off the school’s hard covering, once applied for the sake of beauty, but never renovated, and building up the dirt over the years. We want to scrap it off and get down to the original floor, and not let the residue of old habits gradually dull our institution.

In ways small and large, led by their activist president, In Sung Moon, the students worked together with the administration, faculty and even Board, to improve the student lounge, the study rooms, the restored small chapel, and the academic programs. They challenged us to strive for excellence, so after many years of dormitory dormancy, the Board this morning approved a major restoration project to create living and study space worthy of an institution as great as UTS aspires to be.

The second mark of this year I call the African initiative. What it is, is the first national-level commitment to UTS, UTS partnering with a nation, and it was the nation’s initiative that brought this about. Led by National Messiah Mike and Wiveka Lamson, the nation of Camaroon 100% believes the Founder’s vision for UTS to educate its future generation of leaders. In coordination with UTS, Camaroon has created a fundraising team in America that provides scholarships for their nation’s future leaders. Those future leaders are from the Unification Church and other churches.

I hope that all nations might have leadership as visionary, faithful and entrepreneurial as does Camaroon, to work with UTS for the education of its future leadership.

Jumping out a Window

Dr. Tyler Hendricks, Seminary president, encouraged the graduates in his Commencement Remarks. "A line from ‘The Sound of Music,’ he told them, revealing his extensive knowledge of the cinema, "provides Hollywood’s simple expression of faith in a higher providence ruling our life: ‘When God closes a door, He always opens a window somewhere.’" He continued in this vein, saying, "Graduation is intense and exciting because we participate with men and women who are standing, as a group, outside a closed door. The door to UTS student life is now closed for you, and you have to find a window somewhere. God has prepared a window for you. The Founder and his representatives who have spoken to graduating classes over the years maintain the same emphasis: the UTS graduate is a person of perfect heart and absolute faith, love and obedience, dedicated to building God’s kingdom on earth. It means to be able to put oneself aside, pull your mind away from the closing door, and see God’s window."

Mr. In Sung Moon, student council president and class valedictorian, responded by voicing the graduates’ commitment to serve God, True Parents, all churches and society. The Commencement was concluded by a deep prayer of benediction by our North America Continental Director, Dr. Chang Shik Yang. Dr. Yang and American Family Federation President Reverend Michael Jenkins, both Trustees of UTS, personally congratulated and "tasseled" each of the graduates.

The Hands of God

Camaroon sparked a departure from the ordinary in another way for UTS Commencement ceremonies, when they applied for permission to set up an exhibit. Permission was granted and invitations extended to other organizations as well. Finally, we had displays for IRFWP, "the Labyrinth at UTS" (which deserves an article of its own), and UTS proper. These added joy and excitement to the event, as the crowd perused the displays, viewing videos, picking up materials and enjoying the audio melding of African rhythms and Celtic chants as one passed from table to table.

This all took place inside the building, and of course, we had wanted to have it outdoors. According to local lore, in 25 years it has not once rained on Commencement Day. The administration was duly excited in anticipation of utilizing the Student Pavilion for the after Commencement Reception. We had plans for a large stage over hung with trees and colorful banners.

The set-up was such as to require two full days of carpentry work, so the work had to begin on Thursday for the Saturday event. The week’s weather was gorgeous, but nonetheless I was checking the weather forecast. It was dicey. On Tuesday, the forecast was 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms. On Wednesday, the forecast changed to a mix of sun and clouds and 0% chance of rain. Hooray, full-speed ahead! Then Thursday morning, it was back to 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms. Standing under a sparkling blue sky, we decided to bring it all inside. I recalled how in this part of the country, when thunderstorms come, they hit in the late afternoon, just when we were planning to hold the reception.

Friday, it was clear as a bell. Saturday morning dawned nice and clear. Wow, I thought, did I make a mistake? Are we going to be stuck inside on another beautiful day? Gradually, as the day progressed, the sky clouded up. As Dr. Mickler announced the recessional at the end of the Commencement Ceremony, I heard thunder in the distance. Within minutes, it was pouring rain. Another first for the Seminary was recorded, as all enjoyed the displays and delicious reception fare, safe and dry.

Joyful Reception

The reception program, orchestrated by Dean of Students Mr. Jang Hoee Kim, and emcee’d by Dr. David Carlson, was a festive affair, so festive that the speeches were simply add-ons. Dr. Andrew Wilson, Academic Dean, Mrs. Tessa Hodson-Thonett, Director of Admissions, and Mr. James Borer, Trustee, spoke eloquently, but their appearance was appropriate to the receptions that were formal programs hosted by the Founding Couple, not the raucous family affair of our second quarter century.

The crowd’s attention was caught, however, by the Korean mask dance, UTS rock band, presentation of the class plaque and gift (a digital video camera), and finally, the President’s "talkin’ graduation blues." This grabbed enough interest to spark a bit of a dance with the band returning for yet another rendition of "Bye and Bye." As the attendees filtered out to meet their various schedules, the day ended with a comfortable feeling of family.

The Viewpoint of the Graduates

Graduate Ken Saito, who will pursue student leadership and Ph.D. studies in Korea, explained why he came to study at UTS. "We can explain many kinds of reasons, but I would simply like to 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. That’s why God needs UTS. That’s why True Parents ask us to go to UTS."

Another graduate, In Chul Bak, experienced many struggles during his time at UTS but 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 had not come here to UTS, I would not have learned these points. This is the answer of why I had to be a student at UTS. No matter where I go after graduation, one thing is clear. Life at UTS and its experiences will become my shield and weapon. It’s 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, looking back upon my UTS experience, ‘It was about the true love of God.’ "

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. Last year, it was widely reported that the Seminary would relocate to the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut or to a church-owned site in Midtown Manhattan due to the expense of maintaining its 250-acre campus. However, the Seminary decided not to move and has since experienced five successive terms of enrollment growth. Currently, 110 seminarians are enrolled at the Barrytown campus and 45 students, including some 30 seminarians from a variety of denominations, study at a Manhattan extension center.

The Burgeoning Board of Trustees

UTS is expanding in another way as well: in its Board of Trustees. The Board added five new members, swelling its ranks to 17, including President Emeritus Dr. David S. C. Kim. Board Chair Farley Jones, Esq., together with Vice-Chair Reverend Michael Jenkins and Secretary Dr. Hugh Spurgin welcomed new members Mrs. Karen Smith, a leader of the IIFWP, Dr. Don Olson, Lutheran pastor and ecumenical leader, Mr. Michael Balcomb, World CARP leader, Bishop David J. Billings, III, former Secretary General of the Church of God in Christ, International, and Mr. James Borer, legal counsel for The Washington Times and Washington Times Foundation. Each of these individuals brings a unique talent and perspective to the Board. The Board’s governance and vision-casting has been vital to the UTS renaissance, and the addition of new members of such quality reveal the Board’s confidence and hope for the coming years.

This was, in conclusion, a fantastic year. As the UTS letter that closed out our 2002 Self-Study assessment process put it, "We are pleased with the implementation of two new academic programs, a responsible reduction of the budget, the replenishment of the endowment and scholarship funding, five consecutive terms of enrollment growth, enhanced student satisfaction and improved staff effectiveness.…

"Underlying these achievements is a greater responsiveness to the needs of the sponsoring church and market environment, and a reciprocal renewal of commitment on the part of our church. On this foundation, our faculty, administration and staff energetically look forward to our next phase of teaching and learning."

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