Want To Be a Minister?

Silohuette of Preacher

By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pmThe path to professional ministry would seem to be simple, but it is very complex — for the aspirant and for the community they hope to serve.

In order to ordain their spiritual leaders, i.e., pastors, religious institutions have to: define their purposes, their beliefs, their standards of practice for members as well as leaders, put all this in writing, and set up methods to inculcate these things. Methods include general pastoral care and education as well as pastor preparation, measuring people’s performance in achieving them, and helping people overcome their failures in achieving them.

One indicator of the difficulties involved is that our Unification community, after over 60 years of formal existence and spreading throughout the world, has no ordination. What does one do to become a Unificationist pastor? What do pastors do? Do we even want pastors? Should pastors get paid? How do we assign a pastor to a congregation? By election or appointment? We have no formal or consistent answers to these questions.

Another indicator is the fact that it was not until now that we in the U.S. have set forth publically what it means to be a Unificationist, what is unique about us, what is our position on smoking and drinking, abortion, religious freedom, and many such matters (to get involved in this discussion, see the PDF “FAQ” on the FFWPU-USA site).

From the viewpoint of human history, this is not surprising. It takes religions a long time to decide these things. And there is a very compelling reason: in reality, for religions that last, the answers to these questions are not decided by theory, but by practice. We could call it “form follows function,” or use the traditional saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

What follows is a progress report on how this is working for our Unificationist community here in the U.S.

The Case of Dr. William Selig

Last year, UTS graduate William Selig (M.R.E. 1981, D.Min. 2012) entered upon his final steps to gain Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) certification. One of those steps was to provide evidence he is an ordained minister of his church and that his church is an authentic one according to Association standards. In the process of working with Rev. Selig on this, the Family Federation backed into an ordination policy. It’s a perfect illustration that necessity is the mother of invention, and form follows function.

The FFWPU-USA’s legal office, Rev. Selig and Rev. Ernest Patton, William’s District Pastor, assembled materials, some of which were in place and some of which had to be created, in response to the APC form which gathers the information it expects an ordaining church to have, describing both itself and the person it ordained.

In fact, the Family Federation did go through this in the mid-1990s, when UTS graduate Jeffrey Nakama applied to become a military chaplain. By piecing together the same kinds of materials, our Unification Church came to be recognized as an “endorsing institution,” a bona fide religion on a par, in the eyes of the U.S. Department of Defense, with the Catholic Church and any other church. When Dr. Joon Ho Seuk reported this to Reverend Moon, his response, according to Dr. Seuk, was, “I’ve been waiting for this all my life.”

So we had that in place, but the questions the APC asked required a more thorough response, and, at the same time, HSA-UWC was now capable of providing a more substantial response. Here is an outline of what we did. The documents I mention are on hand and part of the public record.

The Ordination 

The APC expects, and we agree, that to be ordained the candidate feels God’s call to ministry, fulfills the church’s membership expectations, and has served a congregation in a recognized way. He or she has been mentored by a pastor for at least the preceding year, has fulfilled one or more of the church’s stated educational requirements, and has fulfilled one unit of clinical pastoral education (CPE) or the equivalent. The candidate has given a worthy sermon or public testimony and taught a workshop or the equivalent. The candidate has his or her pastor’s recommendation and an invitation to undertake formal pastoral service.

The Family Federation made the educational requirement, the one unit of CPE and Blessing status, negotiable. That is, it will accept a person who has not fulfilled these if he/she merits acceptance on other grounds.

To gain ordination, the candidate submits an application to a District Pastor. In order to meet the APC standards, this application includes the following: Candidate’s Application for Ordination, Unification Minister’s Affirmation, Invitation from the Receiving Congregation or Ministry Institution, Blessing and Family Ministry Recommendation, Fiduciary Duty Examination, and Divine Principle Examination.

The District Pastor reviews the application and interviews the candidate. Upon his or her approval, the District Pastor submits the application to an Ecclesiastical Endorser, along with a letter or recommendation. The Endorser reviews this and, if all the ducks are in a row, submits a report and recommendation to the President for final approval. The following documents are necessary: District Pastor Recommendation, Official Endorser Approval, President’s Approval and an Ordination Certificate.


A U.S. Navy chaplain holds mass for Marines in Afghanistan (photo courtesy U.S. Navy).

APC Acceptance of the Family Federation

As mentioned above, the APC also must be assured that the ordaining body is a bona fide religious organization. To merit this, the Family Federation had to provide answers to these APC questions:

When was the congregation founded? How many members does the congregation have? What is the structure and organization of the congregation? How is clergy leadership obtained for the congregation? How are persons prepared and trained for ministry and pastoral care service? What are the procedures followed by the congregation in ordaining and endorsing clergy for pastoral care service (chaplaincy)?

The FFWPU-USA had to provide the APC copies of the following documents: the Articles of Incorporation, Governing Documents, Mission/Confessional/Creedal Statements, Ordained Pastor’s Responsibilities, Authoritative Operating Documents (Policies and Procedures pertaining to Public Ministers including a Professional Code of Ethics), Conflict of Interest Policy and Whistleblower Policy, Pastor’s Affirmation, Standards and Procedures for Endorsement of Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors and Clinical Educators, the IRS 501(c)(3) certificate or documentation of registration by the state as a not-for-profit religious entity, their own ordination certificate or commissioning letter, a current letter of endorsement from the official endorser, and “a well-rounded picture of your faith group.”


This is a raft of drafts that give joy only to those who can fathom the translation of human life into documented procedures. One has to be something of a scholar to even want to penetrate the intricacies of them. But I hope that these forms, affirmations and processes will stand the test of time for the sake of equipping our members who are called to professional ministry and abetting the give and take between our faith communities and the wider society.

This essay documents what is, not what I or others think should be. In this, it provides a reference point in the discussion of Unification ordination. Some may advise that the educational requirement, the one unit of CPE and/or the Blessing status should not be negotiable. I would advise that any changes in policy be evidence-based. Once we have a reasonable body of data, we can ask whether level of education, Blessing status, or CPE experience correlate with superior pastoral service to the community.

As our community deepens its self-understanding and perfects its path to contribute to the healing of the world, it is good to be aware that, at least in the eyes of the Association of Professional Chaplains, we have an ordination policy. To fail to follow this policy now, without careful review and development of it, would be a breach of public trust, and that would de facto and de jure disqualify us from responsible inclusion in the professional community of faith groups in the United States.♦

Dr. Tyler Hendricks (UTS Class of 1978) served as president of the Unification Church of America and of Unification Theological Seminary. He is an Ecclesiastical Endorser for HSA-UWC America. He presently teaches online classes for the HSA-UTS certificate program, directs the online Center for Education at UTS, and conducts the weekly Holy Marriage Blessing radio ministry, which can be heard live at WKNY1490.com, Sundays at 7 am New York time.

15 thoughts on “Want To Be a Minister?

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  1. If the blessing status for the minister applicant is now “negotiable,” as Dr. Hendricks states, then what is an equivalent hiring criteria that replaces being blessed, which presumably used to be a requirement to become a UC pastor? And why would you want to replace that requirement anyway? If ministers can conduct blessings, wouldn’t you want them to be blessed themselves?

  2. There is a lot of debate about whether our organization needs or wants “pastors.” Many feel that we were all made “Tribal Messiahs” by True Parents and that this high position of all members supersedes any need for pastors. Again, many feel that we are not, and never were, a “church,” but a movement, or in later years, a “federation.”

    Coming from various counter-culture beginnings, many American members resist the idea of a church as well. At the former New Hope Family Church in suburban Maryland, the council has removed the term “church” from the name; now it is simply “New Hope Family.” Remember the “Unified Family” in the late ’60s/early ’70s? Maybe this works. The Pastor there has openly announced that he is trying to work himself out of a full-time position and to help the community self-organize into ministries, tribes and trinities, needing little or no “pastoring.”

    I remember well that I was a “State Leader” in Pennsylvania in 1986, then became a “Regional Coordinator.” In early 1987 — after working extensively with ministers and pastors of many other faiths — it was thought we would be well-served to become “pastors” and use the term “Reverend” simply to be able to work as peers with them. Somehow this idea of “pastors” stuck. But is it really who we are? I, for one, still do not know! -:)

    For years, I fought the battle to help our American faith communities to become more like churches, mainly as a strategic idea to help us evangelize more effectively. I met incredible opposition to the idea from many good friends and associates, as well as Elders from Korea. At this point, I am not really sure who we are or want to be. And then there is another big issue with our next generation. Do they want a church and pastors? We’re not clear on that score either.

    So what will the future hold? I’m certainly not sure. I am praying that we sort this out and get a clear plan for organizational polity. In my view, we risk fading into the shadows of history if we do not.

    1. In pioneer situations, surely there is no need nor money to have pastors, but when the community gets bigger, with many new people interested in studying DP, families in need of seminars, etc., surely we need pastors. The challenge for each pastor, though, is to be busy pro-actively as much as possible in a serving and loving way, solving problems, give counsel, while using elders and deacons effectively too, but not delegate everything to others and then just do sermons, travelling and attend meetings … easier said than done! Of course those individuals who are ready for HTM and are busy doing it, obviously have no direct need for pastors, as they themselves are “pastors” now; regional or national “pastors” will be needed for national events, HTM activities and other organizational matters. In theory it is quite simple.

    2. Henri,

      In a movement that includes spiritual leadership and the mission to unite Christianity and the world religions, we need pastors. I am all for part-time pastors, and shared pastor responsibilities among a team. Sometimes our pastors have no influence in their community because they are not involved in the community through job or other contexts that would help them to be known, even outside of their role, as well as implement their finances. We need to get out of the sect and/or ghetto lifestyle.

      Your pastor had an opportunity to be trained at UTS because he spent two years at 43rd street. Even if he did not have a B.A., he could have audited courses, or taken them for future credit and been better trained in theology, homiletics, ecumenism, counseling, etc. Of course, he is very talented and an excellent speaker nonetheless. But, perhaps the overwhelming nature of a larger FFWPU congregation makes these non-UTS trained pastors more vulnerable to burnout and not wanting the huge responsibility. Even for a UTS graduate, without a trained pastor team, it is intense.

      Aside from all this, FFWPU has totally neglected the outreach and Tribal Messiah context of reaching out to community leadership, civic and public officials, who run our society….If we no longer encourage our leaders to do this outreach (as we did in the 1980’s with AFC, ACC, CAUSA and even each church State Directors did), we are quickly becoming subject to a secularized society that is running the show. We are not transforming society if we allow civic leaders to overrun faith, family values and freedom.

      1. Donna and David,

        Thanks for your comments.

        I am not necessarily saying we don’t need pastors at this point. Just that we never really had pastors, and there’s a significant number of elder members that don’t even think we should be a church. As for the younger generation, they’re not sure what we are either.

        I think we need to get clear on who we are, for one thing. And get clear on what True Parents want us to be and how we should function. The “constitution” that came out is little help, BTW. We’re still working it out.

        One thing: In the Mormon and Quaker faiths, they do not have professional pastors. So might we fit better in that model?

        1. Henri,

          If that were true, our founder would not have started a seminary. Yes, it is okay to have a pastoral team and administrative team that is filled with non-UTS leaders. We already do this. But, I find this identity confusion perhaps spurned by those in D.C. who are elders working with H1 in a non-church movement and your suggestions that we don’t need some pastors who are trained as counterproductive and kind of sad. Given our Founder’s love for the seminary as well as Dr. David Kim’s love for the seminary, not to mention those of us alumni who love the seminary, why should we not feel blessed to have it — rather than thinking we don’t need it? Our founder remarked that he wanted all members to go to the seminary — in his ideal convictions. I loved the courses at UTS and took every course in the Bible that was offered. We had an entire interfaith faculty with people steeped in their various traditions, more so then than at UTS now.

          Individuals can always go beyond conformity and carve their own journeys. It is true that the most inspirational and successful church ministries today, who also have television audiences, are lead by pastors who never went to seminary (T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers). But this is a testimony to individuals who had a calling from God and the extraordinary perseverance to go through incredible indemnity and dedication to God’s will and word to forge out their unique ministries.

          We can always have non-trained pastors, but we can also keep the professionally-trained ones and have it both ways — instead of being like Mormons or Quakers. This is not who we are and our True Parents’ vision. And, to be embracing to all kinds of leaders and pastors, we should not engage in overly legalistic sounding explanations for ministry that serve to discourage our people rather than appreciating the call to ministry as being a gift from God and a unique expression of a person’s potential that should be cherished and nurtured.

      2. Donna,

        Thanks for your comments. I think you misunderstand what I have been trying to say. For one, I am UTS ’85 and went from there right to PA as the “State Leader;” soon thereafter made “Regional Coordinator.” I was ill-equipped in pastor training, though. My MRE training at UTS was not really training to be a pastor. Dr. Hendricks has for years advocated for more pastor training from UTS. I always concurred!

        Actually, I am one of the early voices to state that we need pastors in our faith community. But I was a voice “crying in the wilderness.” Still today, many of our members in this area, a large number of whom are UTS grads as well, are singing the song of tribes, home church, etc., and always resist the idea of us being a church.

        Here is a quote from my previous response: “For years, I fought the battle to help our American faith communities to become more like churches, mainly as a strategic idea to help us evangelize more effectively. I met incredible opposition to the idea from many good friends and associates, as well as Elders from Korea.”

        My comments are about the fact that within our faith community, there is no consensus as to who we are and what our polity should actually be. Believe it or not, I actually agree with you! We do need leaders of some title or other who are professionally trained in ministry, counseling, evangelism, and all that traditional pastor training is about.

        Let’s keep talking and sharing!

  3. OK, so this is a start, but it is only a response to something outside the Family Federation. I do not see any reflection on, or change in, internal policy and the role of a pastor inside Family Fed. Typically, we have used the term pastor for appointed local leaders who do not have a mandate for pastoral care as their primary task. This has been, and continues to be, an internal problem that I don’t believe can be resolved without giving congregations self-determination.

    1. Congregations do have a lot of self-determination. Congregations are often small and don’t raise enough money to support a full-time pastor. In Minnesota, we recently instituted a trinity pastor system, where each member of the trinity focuses on a specific part of the job. We pay them a nominal salary that helps them wtih their groceries, but all have to work outside to earn a living. None of these pastors are UTS-trained (although we have some congregants that did attend UTS), but trained as a cook, a real estate agent, and a software engineer. They attend national events, Top Gun workshops, etc., but none of them are pastors by profession, or have lots of extra time to teach the Divine Principle or counsel members. It is too soon to have any retrospect on this strategy, but there is a gap between the professional training of pastors and the leadership of at least some congregations within the FFWPU.

      1. Gordon, if you look at the CIG Constitution and all the local charters, there is no right to self-determination in these governing documents. While, yes, there have been some changes, even voting, it is all just window-dressing without a constitutional right.

  4. All of these comments are valid points, but leave out the purpose of Unification Theological Seminary. Most of the commenters are not UTS graduates. Let me offer that UTS was founded in 1975 to offer seminary graduate training in Christian Studies, Ministries and Interfaith Ecumenism….for the purpose of sending out pastors and missionaries (those with missionary zeal) to transform America and the world. The MRE and then first M.Div. graduates were the first to be in traditional pastor ministry programs that later became accredited degree programs.

    Yes, we most certainly need pastors and we need Unification Theological Seminary. It is sad that many members have downplayed the importance of UTS, including leaders, who did not promote UTS. This was our Founder’s vision for a world-class seminary and educational facility for Interfaith ecumenism.

    I agree that we need a more family-run federation. Yes, it is good to have shared leadership; but that can involve leadership teams that include a pastor or pastors. We have a multi-faceted movement and ministries that all represent us. Youth programs, GPA leadership training, CARP, WFWP, UPF, AFC and FFWPU. However, a pastor is specifically trained in theological doctrine (Christian and interfaith), methods of ministry and teaching, and now Chaplain/Counseling training (CPE). Without that training, we can’t compete with the theological arenas, the interfaith arenas and the counseling responsibilities.

    Yes, we need to rethink how to create family-oriented leadership as well as intergenerational leadership paradigms, but let us not “throw out the baby with the bath water.”

  5. This responds to both the article and its various comments. For the record, I’m an M.Div. (1998), formally ordained both Unificationist and Baptist, and a military chaplain.

    I think we have to remember two things: first, that human beings are community-minded, and will always desire and need to come together in local groups to experience a relationship with God on a societal, or inter-family, level outside their home; and two, that how we conform to Christian expectations is for the purpose of transforming Christianity (and other faiths) into a Principled pathway, not for transforming Unificationism into a Christian pathway.

    I feel our movement has become rather confused about this for quite some time now. In the first instance, our community meetings are morphing into Christian churches as Divine Principle and Unificationist traditions drop by the wayside. The only attachment to Unificationism often seems to be amorphous beliefs in God, the Blessing, a vanilla Principle of Creation and the Fall, and at the top of the heap, True Parents…largely True Mother, at this point (for Sanctuarians it’s True Father). Ignoring schismatics, the Principled variance church-to-church is staggering. As we think about ordinations and the pastoral calling, I submit that pastoral care in the Unificationist context is very different from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim contexts.

    Unificationists need to develop an understanding of what it means in the Unificationist context to pastor people. We are not the wandering sheep of the Bible. We are not the ignorant masses needing priestly intervention. We are individual truth bodies in direct connection with God through our conscience with Divine Principle as the floor we stand upon. We have to take that reality and craft a new pastoral understanding, just as Christians once did. In the same way, we need to develop an understanding of what it means to commune together as families on a weekly (or whatever) basis, where we come to draw strength and inspiration and love from one another. We no longer come to simply worship and hear the Word of God interpreted in “church;” worship is for angels, and the Word of God flows through our Principled conscience. In a sense, our weekly “church” meetings should be more akin to weekly God-family reunions, not traditional worship as Christianity understands it. Because Unificationists don’t worship God, we “family” with God (for lack of a better verb) through Principled Heart “family-ing” with our brothers and sisters.

    In the second instance, we know that Father created UTS for the purpose of training Unificationist leaders to transform the world. What does that mean, really? Father bequeathed to us a new transformative pastoral model rooted in Principled Heart, freedom of conscience, and individual responsibility. I think that means UTS’s job is to produce just such transformative pastors; that is, people who bring a pastoral care to the world for the purpose of transforming their lives to create heaven right here on earth. Traditional pastoral care is rooted in maintenance, essentially. In Christianity, you’re “saved” through belief, accepting Jesus into your heart. Pastoral care then takes up where transformative witnessing ends; once you’re saved, you’re “in like Flint,” as they say…but now, you have to stay in. Christian pastoral care’s job is to nurture you to survive hell on earth so that you can enter heaven spiritually. Judaism and Islam are similar. There is a vast chasm between these two modes of pastoring.

    Recognizing that (if you do), we then have to recognize that as we establish or grant more ordinations to Unificationists, and create a corollary pastoral vision through which those ordinations function, it’s not for the purpose of aping Christianity. It’s for the purpose of entering into the existing Christian structure of institutionalised pastoral care, such as chaplaincy, in order to participate in their closed system. But that’s only the beginning for Unificationists, not the end. Because, what do we offer? A clear, concise, reasoned understanding of God, creation, the existing world and redemption from it, all wrapped up in a heart of unconditional love through the four principal pathways of love — what Father calls the four great realms of heart. Traditional pastoral care cannot offer that because it doesn’t possess it. It nurtures one’s faith, one’s hope in receiving what’s unseen yet to come. It’s passive. Unification pastoral care nurtures one’s understanding through knowledge and heart, one’s hope in building what’s unseen yet to come. It’s active.

    Ordained Unificationists should not simply give pastoral care to the soldier, the sick and the dying, but to the pastoral profession itself, through transformative Principled Heart. Similarly for the local Unificationist pastor. In fact, we should gin up a new word for “pastor” because we Unificationists don’t shepherd our flock. We serve our family “with the heart of the Father in the shoes of the servant. That is the basic philosophy of God, of Reverend Moon and of the Moonies.” [10/4/1985]

    In the final analysis, human beings always have need for those who are farther along the path, stronger, wiser, more loving, etc. Pastoral care developed out of this reality. Christianity adapted it to its needs in its context. Unificationism has a different context; hence, pastoral care for us must take a different form. We are still working out that form because we are still trying to understand our context. Thus, today’s struggle between “church” and…something. We need to figure out that something. But I think it starts with Father’s frank statement above.

    But while we’re doing that, let’s not lose sight of the fact that ordaining members of our movement is not to recreate in our context what Christianity (or other faiths) have created in theirs. It is to allow us to function in their institutionalized world of qualifications while we figure out and build ours.

  6. Christopher, I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts from the field as well as your comments on a Unificationist role. Those of us in chaplaincy fields and having participated in interfaith contexts of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Training) know that there is a bright, big world out there for our presence and being involved with professional ministries. We have so much to bring to these activities.

    Still, some of our cloistered Sunday church people don’t show appreciation for these outreach ministries. Would you share some of the details of being a military chaplain for the many who don’t know these professions and experiences?

  7. Thank you for your reflections, Christopher. I think that what you are calling for is embedded in the term tribal messiah, and also the Family Federation. When it was launched, the US HQ set forth what we got from Father about the formal structure of it, namely, meeting in homes on or around the first and fifteenth of each month to, as you put it, do family. Sharing the Holy Marriage Blessing with neighbors, friends and relatives, and all that goes with it (namely, as you rightly point to, the four realms of heart, and don’t forget the three kingships), sharing God’s Word. And living for others by helping each other achieve these things in the deepest way. In another place, decades ago, Father said that “worship” would evolve into families sharing their testimonies. And I think that would not be just all whatever great things we did, but also the trials and struggles and difficulties of life that we share together with honesty and compassion. And of course he designated our sabbath to be every 8 days.

    It’s totally radical stuff, isn’t it? And that’s why we haven’t made much progress in that direction. Still our identity is show up every seven days, and that would be Sunday. But in fact, True Mother’s public gatherings for Hoon Dok Hae take place (last time I heard) on the first and fifteenth of the month. And what the constitution of Cheon Il Guk describes, despite using the word “church” often, and I’m arguing against that, has no call to format Sunday “worship” services, but is for principled living that builds healthy, expansive, God-centered families and communities.

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