The Heart of a Dreamer: Father’s Vision for UTS

TP & 3 Presidents

By Tyler Hendricks

tyler_hendricks_edited-1I believe that True Father did not establish Unification Theological Seminary primarily for the sake of educating Unificationist ministers. Of course, Father’s mind is 360 degrees and ministry preparation was part of the picture, but he already had fine ministry preparation with the workshop system. The main purpose for UTS, as far as I am aware, was that of teaching our leaders about what the other religions believe, so that we could, 1) have intelligent and respectful dialog; 2), help them succeed in their ministry by introducing True Parents’ spirit and truth; and 3), build coalition with them that would eventually create the foundation for what Father later came to call the spiritual “upper house” of the United Nations.

I won’t rehearse the history of that plan and the role of UTS in it, but simply say that even in failing to reach the heights of Father’s vision, UTS accomplished an incredible feat, and that the vision is still worthy and true and capable of achievement, and that its achievement—at least until the people God has prepared to partner in it (e.g., the UN) do so — would cost our movement a huge amount of money.

In the latter years of my UTS presidency, I outlined to the UTS Board of Trustees this interfaith path, including the broad stroke path that UTS was designed to take. The Board liked the path, and said to follow it. Unfortunately, they didn’t pay enough attention to the price tag (which I actually low-balled).

I also informed the Board that if they did not want to undertake that expense, there is an alternative path, and that is to learn from the grassroots Christian start-up churches and how they are educating their pastors. I’m talking about the Vineyard movement, the Calvary Chapel faith movement, Saddleback, Willow Creek, and something that emerged since then, Nelson Searcy’s Renegade Pastors; and there are many others. These churches are educating hundreds of thousands of pastors around the world, in-house and online, at very low cost. I advised the Board that going online would require care in terms of preserving the accreditation, but that the industry is changing.

And wouldn’t you know it, today, the flagship grandmother institution of American theological education, the Association of Theological Schools, has on its website the following announcement:

“A lot has changed in thirteen years. Until 2000, ATS accrediting standards did not permit any kind of distance education. Recently, the Board of Commissioners of the ATS Commission on Accrediting, by granting exceptions to the residency requirement, made fully online degree programs possible at six member schools, three of them offering the MDiv.”

I advocated that, given the financial resources the church was ready to give UTS, we choose this alternative path—the grassroots, low-cost path to educate church leadership, and put the interfaith project on the back burner.

I am now four years older and wiser. I have realized that what I presented as either-or—interfaith, big-ticket education, or denominational, inexpensive education—is not an either-or. In other words, Father was right. We can do both. And the key comes from my reflection on words that Father said to me when he received his honorary doctorate from UTS.

It was the commencement address Father gave—extemporaneously—in June 2001. It was the year that UTS presented to our True Parents their honorary doctorates. (It was the first Unificationist school to do so, by the way) True Father turned to me, from the pulpit, and said that UTS has to educate students in two things: world religions and the change of blood lineage.

My mind boggled (as was often the case when Father spoke to me). World religions—the most broad, all-encompassing, open-ended topic—and change of blood lineage—the most internal, complicated, providential sacrament of the Second Advent? How do we fit those together? “Oh yes, professor, here is our Department of World Religions, and we have one other department, the Department of Change of Blood Lineage.” Sorry, my cartoon self took over and I put Father’s words on the shelf. Mea culpa.

It took me 14 years to grasp the truth in Father’s words. Here’s how I see it: The core ministry of the Second Advent, the path to world peace and the unification of heaven and earth, is the Holy Marriage Blessing, the change of blood lineage. All the world’s religions—not just Christianity—have the primary purpose from God’s viewpoint of preparing their populations to receive the Holy Marriage Blessing. What we need to do is educate the leaders of the world’s religions to understand and receive the Holy Marriage Blessing, and to put it by themselves into their own contexts to minister it—authentically, fully, robustly, thoroughly—to their billions of believers. Game over.

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ACLC’s Interreligious and International Blessing and Rededication Ceremony in Washington, DC in July 2002.

So, the mission of UTS is to create leaders who are 1) complete in ministering, teaching, explaining, and practicing the Holy Marriage Blessing, and are, 2) thoroughly well-versed in the beliefs, scriptures, rituals and traditions of all the world’s religions. These leaders should be able to answer the fundamental questions, reach the fundamental hearts of the religious leaders, and support them as they figure out how to bring their peoples to the True Parents of heaven, earth and all humankind.

So, UTS’s mission is to teach world religions and the change of blood lineage. The medium can be online—the world is too big, time is too short—with reasonable provision for workshops and seminars everywhere. It is accreditation-worthy. It is inexpensive. It is contemporary—it’s a doggone smartphone app. I’m sure some smart second gen will come up with one. I have a radio ministry called Holy Marriage Blessing, and a young lady (not a Unification Church member) working on the graphics for its website asked, in all sincerity, “You mean you can get married on the radio?” It is the avenue to Father’s dream of cross-cultural marriage blessing.

Now, about the Barrytown property—it’s a white elephant. In 2008-09, with our UTS Board and Holy Spirit Association staff partnership, we mapped out several paths for the property, including fairly intensive discussions and investigations with Bard College personnel, up to its President’s visit. Of course, the amount of work that can be done is endless, but on the basis of what we did, which was not inconsiderable, it is clear to me that there is no good option — by which I mean there is no sure-fire guarantee of fiscal and spiritual success, and that the least bad option that shows the most promise, by far, is to have an undergraduate college here. And with a good leadership team in place and sincere cooperation between the church and school, a college can turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

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Reverend Moon prepares a fishing net with students at Unification Theological Seminary in the late 1970s.

And it’s not just for the sake of salvaging a property—although that is a miracle worth achieving. It’s not even just for our young Unificationists who would find spiritual and academic hope here—although that also is a miracle worth living for. It’s because True Parents’ dream of true higher education, into which our movement invested untold resources in Korea — and (until 2003) in Bridgeport, Connecticut — has yet to be realized. And college campus culture in the West, to use the phrase Greg Baer loves so much, is going down the toilet. True Father’s vision for true marriage and true families cannot be achieved without victory on the frontline, and the frontline is the college campuses of the West.

Yes, we need to change the existing universities. But to do so, what is needed above everything is a model of health. I know I’m way too radical, but I’d like to call it “Marriage College” (maybe “Holy Marriage College,” then people might think it’s Catholic 🙂 ).  In any case, we need a spiritual revolution, and if we can’t do it, how can we expect other universities to do it?

I suggest, in my mystical rapturous mindset, that this is what Father’s footprints at Barrytown lead us to, if we’re willing to follow them.♦

Dr. Tyler Hendricks (UTS Class of 1978) served as president of the Unification Church of America and of Unification Theological Seminary. He is presently directing the online Center for Education at UTS, and conducts the weekly Holy Marriage Blessing radio ministry, which can be heard live on the web Sundays at 7 am New York time.

Photo at top: Reverend and Mrs. Moon receive honorary doctorates from Unification Theological Seminary in June 2001. Dr. Hendricks is at left.

12 thoughts on “The Heart of a Dreamer: Father’s Vision for UTS

  1. Dr. Hendricks,

    As one of the European elders, I’m still following up on this actual UTS-Barrytown College discussion. Even I didn’t know all the details about this, but I try to know and understand as much as possible. Now I read your post and examined this very precisely. I really have to say thank you very much for your article on this issue. You as one of the elders in the US too, you raised up again TF’s vision and dream on this matter, what we never should forget. It is still again one part of our legacy what we have to hand over to our 2nd gen’s. Thank you very much for your effort, to keep Father’s vision alive.

  2. Dr. Young Oon Kim was a very strong advocate for the long-range development of UTS in line with True Father’s vision which was to be an international institution of interfaith students, not just Unificationists. In the 1985 faculty minutes that I read while working with our first Academic Dean, Therese Stewart, the UTS administration and faculty discussed this development of interfaith which UTS now offers in its current ministry programs.

    Additionally, in 1985, then Board of Trustees member, Farley Jones, wrote in The Cornerstone that UTS must create other sources of revenue, outside of HSA, such as businesses or philanthropic fundraising in order to survive. This also was our Founder’s request that our first President, Dr. David S. C. Kim, acknowledged when the original endowment was used up and Dr. Kim allowed several students to pursue a business on campus property.

    It is time for UTS to take responsibility as a number of American colleges have done when struggling financially; a college administrator or individuals courageously went out and found new sources of funding. Drew University was rescued from financial collapse from one bold individual outreaching to create funds. Martha Berry founded the Christian liberal arts college in Rome, Georgia, Berry College, by boldly reaching out to philanthropic individuals and by requiring students to work on campus grounds/repairs/services while being students. No church provided the funding. Our Founder suggested farming businesses, such as deer farming, bee farming, etc., but he wanted students and administrators to take the lead and creatively pioneer the way. I feel there was a spiritual reason why this was a specific direction for Barrytown to take responsibility. Also, I feel UTS will then earn its rights to its own governance better by being more independent of HSA.

  3. Around the turn of the millennium, True Father frequently spoke of three commandments: 1. Do not defile blood lineage, 2. Respect human rights, and 3. Do not misuse public money. I think we could add them to the traditional Ten Commandments and teach and follow them ardently.

    In the Old Testament Age, people lived in tribes and homogeneous cultures led by kings. Today, we live in a complex world of social institutions and the division into cultural, political and economic spheres. The original Ten Commandments largely related to interpersonal behavior, but I take these three new commandments as related to core teaching for the present age. Breakdown of the biological family is caused in part by social institutions that try to replace it. Whether it be problems of Ferguson, MO, or ISIS in Syria, lack of respect for human rights is also one of the main problems of the present age. Finally, misuse of public money is rampant in nearly all governments, and if we are to aim at a world where voluntary contributions and user fees eventually replace income taxes, we need to create new types of agencies.

    The survival of Barrytown College and many Unificationist projects are also related to proper use of public money. In the past, I have seen many failures because sometimes individuals were given high positions without real management qualifications and much public money became wasted, not by bad intent — but the road to hell can be paved with good intentions if you disregard this commandment.

    I’d like to see any curriculum discussion address all three of these points and not focus alone on blood lineage. I think all three are interrelated in the KOH on Earth.

  4. In Peter Drucker’s book, Managing the Not for Profit Organization, he notes that more than any other kind of not-for-profit, religious organizations have a particularly hard time abandoning any project because all projects are “for the Lord.” UTS is one such project that needs to be abandoned. I believe it has run its course successfully and needs to be retired. Regarding Barrytown College, I don’t see a need for the American movement to have an undergraduate school. Let our elder teenagers and young adults cultivate their spirituality and gain technical skills out there in the “fallen world” from among the over 4,000 public and private two- and four-year colleges throughout the country.

    • Jack LaValley’s comment needs to be challenged on several counts. A relatively minor point to start. Peter Drucker may have stated that religious organizations have a particularly hard time abandoning any project because all projects are “for the Lord.” However, it’s hard to see how this generalization applies to the Unification movement. The ground is littered with dozens of short-lived organizations and initiatives, many founded for quite specific or even grandiose purposes, which the UM has abandoned, commonly due to shifts in the providence and, on occasion, lack of interest.

      So it’s surprising that Jack goes after UTS, an organization which is observing its 40th anniversary this year (1975-2015). UTS battled the New York State Education Department for 15 years to obtain its Absolute Charter on today’s date in 1990, labored another six years to obtain regional accreditation in 1996, another ten years to obtain approval for a doctoral program in 2006, and seven more years after that to win approval for and launch its undergraduate B.A. program, Barrytown College of UTS in 2013. But Jack tells us that “UTS is one such project that needs to be abandoned.” He opines that UTS “has run its course successfully and needs to be retired.”

      Jack’s solution? Send our elder teenagers and young adults to the “fleshpots” of higher education in the U.S. Let them “cultivate spirituality” and “gain technical skills” in the “fallen world.” After all, there are “over 4,000 public and private two- and four-year colleges throughout the country.” By this logic, the Children of Israel should have returned to Egypt. The Puritans should have returned to England. Why start Harvard? There were plenty of universities in Europe already.

      This is certainly over-stated and not meant to demean young Unificationists who choose to attend any of the colleges to which Jack refers. Barrytown College of UTS clearly is a pioneer effort. It deserves the opportunity to exist as a Unification alternative.

      • In order for Barrytown College to exist in this dire financial situation (that has in part contributed to UTS being on probationary accreditation) administrators need to do aggressive marketing to area and out-of-state high schools throughout the country. Additionally, new sources of revenue and professional fundraising to philanthropic individuals need to be developed. All involved in the UTS Board of Trustees, administration and faculty need to contribute to these endeavors for a fledgling and struggling endeavor to get out from the financial crisis that has deepened.

  5. Whether preserving (protecting, defending) “blood lineage” will be the ultimate curriculum or actually (factually?) changing it, would seem to be anyone’s guess. Both surely seem to have their place.

    However, for a (new) future seeing or seeking seminary (or “vision institution”), an emphasis on interfaith (collaborative) efforts would seem to trump any variation on the usual triumphalistic (competitive) efforts at preservation and perpetuation (growth?) of a “true” legacy (or legacies).

    Has the time for the UTS “project” being worldly relevant passed? If no one — outside the institution itself — is really listening anymore to its voice, then perhaps so. Also, fix the finances or close shop, etc.

    Mere survival should not be enough in any case.

  6. I’ve studied the book by Peter Drucker that Jake LaValley quotes quite a bit and used it in developing our Pocono Family Ministries over the last 20 years. Here are a few quotes from a chapter in that book on “Converting Good Intentions into Results”: “The non-profit organization is not merely delivering a service. It wants the end user to be not a user but a doer. It uses a service to bring about a change in a human being. It creates habits, vision, commitment, knowledge. It attempts to become a part of the recipient rather than merely a supplier. Until this has happened, the non-profit organization has no results; it has only good intentions.”

    In referring to Napoleon, needing money, first, second and last in war, Drucker notes: “There (in the non-profit organization) you need four things. You need a plan. You need marketing. You need people. You need money.”

    We will have to see if the UTS Board, Acting President Dr. Spurgin and a new President can come up with a plan, can understand and develop a marketing plan, and can find people. Money will have to come from more sources that HSA — from alumni, friends, and others. Money alone will not do the trick.

    • Thank you for reiterating that, Rob. Awhile back, I did some research on seminary hiring needs and found that some seminaries are hiring not one, but two and three development officers. They “get” the much needed reality to find monies from other and new sources whether grant, philanthropy, new aggressive marketing strategies, alumni involvement, etc. There is a lot of money out there; but there need to be boldly creative, innovative and persistent development-oriented people in charge.

  7. My dear, dear former students — and possibly future ones, as well: As one of the few (who else is left?) of the “founding fathers and mothers” of UTS, and as a “stranger and foreigner” among you, let me plead one more time: Stop discussing and wrangling about the importance of higher education for the incarnation and life of Rev. Moon’s dream: just do it! No religious movement in history has ever survived without its colleges and universities — the University of Paris for medieval EuroChristian Catholicism; Oxford and Cambridge for the Church of the British Empire; Halle for the Lutherans; Harvard and Yale for the American Puritans; and on and on the story goes, not forgetting BYU for the Mormons, and Abilene Christian University for my own bunch!

    Without the resurrection of UTS, or the same institution by a different name, the American Unification Movement will die — or deserve to — for lack of knowledge, insight, foresight, hindsight, and leadership. Long live Barrytown! Long live UTS!

  8. Read my previous three posts. Someday…someone, who is as bold and successful as the young Bard president was when he stepped onboard, will require this kind of marketing and professional philanthropic fundraising, even requiring all members of the board, if they are serious, to donate $10,000 or step down. It worked for Bard and is an example of tough love.

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