- Contributed by Tyler Hendricks Tyler Hendricks
New Family Federation Leader Gives Weekly Chapel Message
Dr. In Jin Moon, daughter of Seminary Founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon and newly appointed leader of the Family Federation in America, and her husband, Dr. James Park, visited UTS at its New York City Extension on September 16 and at the main campus in Barrytown the following day. Dr. Moon toured both facilities, heard reports, met students and faculty, and provided input on seminary education based upon her seminary background and sense of the Unification movement’s future. Dr. Moon holds a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree from Harvard Divinity School.
In New York, Dr. Lonnie McLeod, Dean, guided the tour of the classrooms, library, student lounge and study area, bookstore and offices. Over coffee and fruit, he shared seminary plans to develop a track for Islamic students to gain certification in masjid leadership and chaplaincy, the steps being taken to solidify the recognition of the UTS M.Div. for ordination within the Baptist churches, and development of an online certificate in family ministry. Rev. Hardaway, Director of Recruitment and Marketing, reported on his work with the UCC-DAP partnering students with local church clients for social action internships, and Reading and Writing (R.A.W.) literacy tutoring. Ms. Davetaa Ogunlola, Registrar, reported on the Women and Ministry conference the Extension hosted in the spring. The group discussed the ecumenical vision that provides open access to all theological perspectives, as a trademark UTS commitment from its founding. Dr. Moon expressed her appreciation of Dr. McLeod’s coming on at UTS on the foundation of his extensive career as a pastor and educator, and Dr. McLeod explained that he sees UTS as a step forward on his career trajectory.
The following day Dr. Moon shared a chapel message with the UTS students, faculty and staff. With Student Council President Barbara Robertson as emcee, the Student Music Club treated everyone to a stirring rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Dr. Moon spoke on the value of seminary education, family life, the challenges of a life of faith, and her father, Dr. Sun Myung Moon’s, teaching that understanding is the way and love is the goal the interfaith program.
“When I drive around in New York City,” Dr. Moon said, “I often see a bumper sticker that says, ‘CO-EXIST,’ with a symbol of a Jewish star and a Christian cross. When I see that I say to myself ‘Is that the best we can do?’ Why only co-exist? That should be the bare minimum of what religious people should be about. To live a life of faith, a life of sacrifice doesn’t mean that our end goal is to co-exist. Our end goal is not just to tolerate one another. …In an institution like this you have the opportunity to come to a better understanding of each other’s faith and at the same time to celebrate each other’s differences and to celebrate the unique aspects of the differences of our various cultures. …[On that foundation] you have an incredible opportunity to understand different religions and different ways of looking at God. I am hoping that the end result we can all strive for is love, because love is the only thing that makes our lives worthwhile and it is only love that can give hope for the kind of world that we are living in now.”
The chapel service also included a report from Dr. Pyung Hwa Kim, Family Federation Regional Chair, about the Global Peace Festival in Mongolia, from which he had just returned the night before.
Dr. Moon and her husband then joined the entire school at lunch in the main dining room. They heard testimonies from new students concerning their hopes for seminary education, and were introduced to the faculty and staff members.
Following lunch, Dr. Hendricks and the core staff guided the visiting group on a tour of the grounds, which were shining with beauty in the late summer sun, Massena House and main building. The group included, in addition to Dr. Pyung Hwa Kim, Rev. Michael Jenkins, Family Federation President and Interim Chair of the UTS Board of Trustees, Rev. Levy Daugherty, Vice President of the Family Federation and Publisher of Kingmaker magazine, and two other Trustees, Mr. Chad Hoover, chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, and Mr. James Borer, chair of the Committee on Trustees.
The day concluded with an in-depth meeting with the core UTS staff and Trustees, covering all aspects of the UTS mission, goals and objectives. Discussion focused on financial aid programs, chaplaincy internships and critical issues regarding the strategic value of the UTS education to the Family Federation communities, Universal Peace Federation and its diverse constituencies, and the wider society, as well as to the students preparing for meaningful careers of spiritual leadership and service.
Chapel Service at UTS, Barrytown September 17, 2008
Transcribed from the video tape by Kevin Thompson; edited by Tyler Hendricks
First of all, good morning to everyone. I am delighted that you have invited me to come and spend time with you this morning. Driving up here brought back many memories, memories of True Parents and those early years growing up in America. Here I am now the mother of 5 children and as my brothers and sisters move into positions of responsibility on behalf of True Parents and there is a tremendous sense of hope and yet at the same time a great sense of responsibility.
When I think of UTS I realize that this is a special place in God’s Providence. As you know, my Father received from Jesus Christ the command to fulfill Jesus’ responsibility when he was 16 on that beautiful Easter Sunday morning. From that moment until now, and he is 88 years old, Father has never wavered or second guessed what he needs to do. As a child watching my father, giving speeches and guidance, and all those beautiful summer months fishing in Gloucester, and all those times when Father was joking and poking fun at leaders over hamburgers at McDonalds or Burger King while doing speaking tours, I always saw something that was uniquely interesting from a child’s point of view. That is: here is a man of God; here is a man who has been asked by Jesus Christ to fulfill this mission. And yet, I always noticed this almost childlike sparkle I his eyes. He was so in love with life and so in love with the people with whom he was spending time. It didn’t matter where you put him; that spark was always there. Also, when I came to meet the early followers of my father here in America, I could see that they also had that spark of life, spark of hope, spark of excitement. I have watched many brothers and sisters over the year and sometimes that spark wanes, sometimes that spark is ignited by something that inspires them. Sometimes it gets lost and sometimes buried, but then with a cleansing experience they have with True Parents it gets revived. I have seen that there is an up and down, almost like a sine curve, such is the nature of human life and human spirituality. I myself have also experienced that.
Whenever I think of my life in relationship to True Parents, and as life gets complicated and we get older life has a way of getting complicated, right? So many responsibilities as wife, mother, teacher, many things. The one thing that I realize is that I must never lose that spark which I see always in Father’s eyes and Mother’s eyes. Whenever I feel that I am waning in my spirituality or in my life, I catch this image of my father. I have a small sketch of my father that I sketched as a little girl. I am not a fantastic artist and couldn’t do my father justice, but I drew a circle looking like a moon with two crescent eyes with that sparkle coming from the eyes. This is a message to myself to never forget who you are and once you decide to go a certain lifestyle, to live a certain lifestyle, then be true to your self, true to your spark. I think that is what allows our True Father and True Mother to truly be the True Parents for all of us. It is because they are giving us the spark of life and encouraging all of us to see something greater.
Here at UTS all of you have an incredible opportunity, not only to enjoy the beauty of nature, but also to seek a better understanding of each other, learning to appreciate different faiths and different cultures, and learning to love one another.
When I drive around in New York City I often see a bumper sticker that says, “CO-EXIST,” with a symbol of a Jewish star and a Christian cross. When I see that I say to myself “Is that the best we can do?” Why only co-exist? That should be the bare minimum of what religious people should be about. To live a life of faith, a life of sacrifice doesn’t mean that our end goal is to co-exist. Our end goal is not just to tolerate one another. Certainly I am sure that those men among you who are married, if you were to turn to your wife and say, “Honey, I love you very much and I really want to co-exist with you for the rest of my life.” I don’t know about you but that is not too inspiring for me. If my husband were to turn to me and say, “Honey, you are such a wonderful mother and a wonderful wife and I want to tolerate you for the rest of my life.” I’m not sure that I would be so inspired. If he turned to me and said “Honey, I respect you very much, I honor you very much and I love you as the mother of my children, I want to love you for the rest of my life.” That does wonders for me and makes me want to be that wonderful mother and that wonderful wife.
In an institution like this you have the opportunity to come to a better understanding of each other’s faith and at the same time to celebrate each other’s differences and to celebrate the unique aspects of the differences of our various cultures. Here at UTS we have so many people here, people from the East, people from Africa, people from Europe. This, in a way, is like a tapestry of life you are weaving. So at the beginning of this fall semester please keep in mind why we are here. We are here to learn to love each other. How do you profoundly learn to love each other? That comes from understanding. When you feel understood by someone, then you feel loved. When you feel understood by your parents, you feel loved. That is what every child wants in their relationship with their parents. What do you seek from your spouse? It begins with understanding. You say to yourself, “Gosh, I wish my spouse could understand me.” If you and your spouse come from different cultures, a Korean married to an American, or an African married to a European, then you hope that your God-given spouse can understand who you are, could understand your culture and what you are all about. With that understanding you feel validated, you feel loved. So here at UTS you have an incredible opportunity to understand different religions and different ways of looking at God. I am hoping that the end result we can all strive for is love, because love is the only thing that makes our lives worthwhile and it is only love that can give hope for the kind of world that we are living in now.
I have 3 children in college. One is finishing up in Edinburgh, Scotland and two are in Harvard. When I visit them in their dorms and spend time with their friends I realize the kind of value system they are working off. One of the things I realized most profoundly was that the word which most comes out of a college age student is “me” and “this is what I want.” I hear “I” and “me” quite a bit and it is no wonder that we had generation x, generation y, generation z and now we have the millenniums, the “show me the money” generation. “I want to be rich, I want to be powerful” and with this whole influx of the cult of celebrity which the United States is entrenched in. Everything is about me, everything is about what I can get from society, what I can get from my education, what I can get from my community.
I am sure some of you saw on CNN this lovely young lady who is wanting to get a graduate degree and, having no means to do so, she went on CNN live and talked about how she wants to have bids for her virginity. She says, “My virginity will go to the highest bidder, so that I can pay for my graduate education.” When she was interviewed and asked why she was doing this she said, “When I was younger I believed in romantic love, I believed in an ideal relationship but as I got older I realized that those things don’t matter. What matters is what I can get out of society, what I can get out of my education.” She has been taught along the way somehow that the most important thing is money or power or whatever that she can sell so that she can achieve her goal. My family and I saw that together. My children said, “You know mom, America is a God-chosen country and yet that lady on TV could be anybody that I meet on a college campus.” To think that somebody so young has already given up on life, already given up on the possibility of a loving relationship, already given up on the possibility of creating a beautiful family, together with a man who values her as a human being, who values her life and worth, is an incredibly sad reality. But that is the reality of children now.
Many of us here have known True Parents for many decades and have seen their spark all along the way, but maybe at some point we have asked ourselves, “What are we doing here? have we really accomplished what we set out to do? When I joined in the 70s, what was it that inspired me? And how is my life now? Maybe I am not in the ideal financial situation and maybe my ideal spouse turned into a pumpkin. Maybe my children didn’t turn out as I thought they would.” I am sure some of you just like me have often questioned and wondered, “Are we really making a difference?” When I look at my own children and the blessed children and see the special quality that each one possesses then I can say, “Yes we did make a difference.” We have something different, something that is unique.
Our True Parents talk to us about making true families that last forever. This is not something that should be pushed by the wayside; it is very much a reality. Our movement has been so focused on meeting deadlines and doing events. Rev. Jenkins honestly said to me that we really haven’t given enough attention to our families for the past 24 years because we were always working to fulfill a providential timeline. Many of us have forgotten our duties as a spouse and as a parent and in a way our children had to grow up on their own. What we are working with, in terms of raw material, is incredible. There is something different about our children, about my children. So when I meet with Blessed members, I am encouraging everyone to look within and see what we have and to nurture what we have. For those of you who are thinking to go into ministry, your mission will be to nurture your congregation. In a way, that kind of starts within our own families and with our own children. I am hoping that as you move forward with your life of faith and your life of ministry, you won’t forget how valuable your children are and realize that they are hand-picked by True Parents to do many, many great things. I like to use the words hand-picked because many of you wouldn’t be together if our True Father didn’t introduce you to your spouse. Many of you couples are total opposites, like day and night or black and white. I see a certain wisdom in that. Father takes two extremes and when they come together what is produced is something quite beautiful and quite profound.
I am hoping that as we move forward as a movement and as you move forward in your studies, you can think about all the things that make us unique and all the things that make UTS unique. Remember that we have our True Parents who are the living embodiment of True Love. My father, at 88 years old, always steals a moment to give my mother a kiss or two. It is such a wonderful thing to see. But we do not just have a father figure whom we can enjoy, whom the foundation of 6,000 biblical years can enjoy. Also on the foundation of my mother’s total obedience, total unity and total love, we have an incredible mother figure whom we can enjoy. So here we have a living image of a man and a woman, truly committed to God and truly committed to each other and committed to their children and to all of us. If that is not inspiring I don’t know what is. In a way I feel that I am standing here before you on the foundation of my parents’ greatness and, more importantly, on the foundation of my mother’s greatness. We cannot overlook the historical context of such a thing. If you study the history of religion, it has not always been kind to women. Many time women have been vilified, women have been abused, women have been oppressed, and women have been silenced. But, on the foundation of True Mother’s victory now we have a voice, we have an opportunity to seek an active role in our life of faith. This is something that is absolutely profound, historical and necessary for humankind. Just as we have seen the incredible powerful leadership in the history of religion, now I look forward to seeing many women who will be the next True Mothers, who will be the next great leaders to emphasize the importance of kindness, to emphasize the importance of nurturing and to emphasize the importance of inspiring the congregation and in that way guiding the congregation to achieve greatness.
Brothers and sisters, I truly hope that all of you can help me to weave this tapestry of life and this tapestry of love that is so necessary in this day and age. I drove here from New York City, and every time I wake up in that city I am reminded that 9/11 happened in the name of religion. Thousands and thousands of lives were wasted in the name of religion. If we cannot overcome our religious differences and if we cannot learn to love and respect each other in a way that every religion of the world feels understood and on that basis, loved, then I feel we are leaving our world to our children in a very bad way. If we can focus on our common denominator of our desire to love to learn from each other and understand each other then we can move forward and we can raise a generation of peace, not a generation of “show me the money,” not a generation of “what can you do for me?” If we can raise up this consciousness in young people, who can brand themselves as “Generation Peace,” then I think the world of peace is not far away.
I encourage all of you to continue in your own journey as you come to understand who you are and what you would like to do with your life. I hope that you can keep True Parents in your mind and with a grateful heart thank them for this opportunity to come and explore your faith and different faiths and come to a better understanding of who we are as humanity, as we go forward into this new century. Brothers and sisters thank you very much and I am truly delighted that I can be a part of your day. I wish you a wonderful year and I wish you peace, love and understanding.
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