Unification Theological Seminary celebrated its 33rd Annual Convocation on Wednesday, September 5, in its grand interfaith chapel. The school welcomed twenty-two new students from sixteen nations, and announced that five more new students are working through their processes to arrive.
Dr. Tyler Hendricks and Dr. Michael Mickler, seminary president and vice president, led the procession of faculty, administration and new students to begin the program. Dr. Mickler welcomed all, including a special welcome to President Emeritus Dr. David S. C. Kim. Dr. Mickler then invited Rev. Gavin Hamnett, pastor of the Mid Hudson Valley Family Church, to offer the opening prayer.
We then heard a welcome from Mr. Pierre Tardy, representing the Board of Trustees. He encouraged the students to discover their vision and seek to equip themselves to fulfill it at UTS. Dr. Hendricks then announced new faculty and staff members, including Dr. Mark Isaacs, Professor of Ministry, Mr. Chris Antal, Instructor in Interfaith Relations and Field Education Director, Rev. Leander Hardaway, Director of Recruitment at the Extension Center, Dr. Jacob David, Director of Field Education at the Extension Center, Mr. Chung Hee Bessell, webmaster, Rev. Chen Fong, Ass’t Director of the D. Min. program, and Ms. Roshan D’Souza, Admissions Director at the Extension Center.
Mr. Henry Christopher, Director of Admissions at the main campus, then introduced the new students, including their country of origin and undergraduate degree. Each student stood and received a welcoming applause.
Dean of Students Sunhee Davies then led the Dedication Ceremony. She brought the students to the front, where they recited together the Student Code, ably led by new student Stephen Goldiamond. The students then lit a candle of dedication, and joined in prayer led by new student Margaret Sisserson. Dr. Mickler reflected that the students had just completed the third of five “D’s” involved in seminary education: desire, discipline, dedication, determination and discovery.
We then welcomed Mr. Kenji Toyomura, President of the Student Council, to the stage to offer his welcoming remarks. He pointed out that the 33rd year is a significant one in the life of an institution as in a person. He encouraged the new students to open their hearts and minds at UTS in order to become the leaders of the future.
Ms. Seiko Lee graced the occasion with a beautiful rendition of “Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert. As always, she brought a holy spirit of beauty to each person in the room.
Dr. Andrew Wilson, Academic Dean and professor of Hebraic and Unification Studies, presented an insightful convocation address. He explained the transition of the Unification movement from the traditional stance of conversion to an age of religious cooperation, mutual respect and agreement on shared values. Dr. Wilson also expressed the deeper meaning of the term “aju,” as “substantially.” He rendered the now-familiar saying, “one family under God, Aju,” as “one family under God, substantially.” This received a strong positive response.
Dr. Hendricks offered the closing benediction, invoking God’s blessings upon the students in their quest to achieve their life mission for the sake of God, their families, their nations and the world.