I have felt the presence of God on the Unification Theological Seminary holy ground and labyrinth where men and women of faiths from around the world have prayed. The Founder, Rev. Moon, made a prayer walk there, known now as Father’s Trail, on the Hudson River in Barrytown, New York. The nature trail is open to the public as part of the Hudson Valley Greenway. Now, people of all nationalities are praying for unity and world peace. God speaks with me there and I know He will speak with all people of good will.
Now, whatever your background, or faith, you can visit and pray on this trail. Like me, you can walk the path of exploration, seek God’s call, question your past, your journey and your understanding. Deepen your faith. If you want to study and discover your call and/or to become a peacemaker, UTS – the Interfaith Seminary is a place you can study the traditions and texts of the paths of faith, the major religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism and the myriad others historic and contemporary religions of the world. Here I’ve spoken with men and women of different faith walks; debate the issues of peace and cooperation, conflict resolution/reconciliation, universal and family bonds. I studied the Divine Principle, family and character education, management and international relations. It has helped me and many others become a teacher, a pastor, a missionary, a community leader, a diplomat or a president. Interfaith understanding helps everyone become a better parent, architect, businessman, manager, musician and painter. Here is a place where we can follow God’s heart.
Who are the fruits of a UTS education from the past and the present? Seminary graduates. Have you heard anyone talk about UTS graduates in your community recently? Who are the Seminarians in your congregation? How many live near you? Have you heard their testimony?
One simple way to support UTS is to talk about the seminarians. Every graduate is a seminarian no matter whether they are young or 80 years old. Not everyone is a Rev., a Pastor, a church leader or a Ph.D. It is not just for an individual alone, but what that graduate signifies for the larger purpose that we hold pride in speaking about our seminarians. It is acknowledging our Founder’s heart to love and educate through our seminary, the special training that each person receives, and the need to have the fruits of these efforts multiplied by giving to the larger community the awareness of our seminary and graduates throughout the community.
Speaking about our seminarians brings a greater awareness and significance to our historic educational institution. When signification is given to an experience, then even our children learn to value something. When it is a special place with a special experience, and we refer to it, give signals about it, children, and others as well, hear the message. I learned something about this internal process from my own young daughter. We used to drive by a beautiful, Georgia private school campus on the way to my teaching job almost every week, for months, when she was 5 years old, and then we passed this campus occasionally for a couple of years later. Every time we drove by, I would say: “I love this school and beautiful campus. Students of all nationalities are here. It has rolling hills and a farm, horses grazing on the field. I would love to teach here.” A few years later, when I asked my 10 year old daughter if she ever imagined going to a high school, where would she want to go? She said clearly, “I would go to that school we used to pass on the road in Georgia.” Yet, we were living in Florida at that time, FOUR years later.
So, what can our area ministers, community leaders and parents do for UTS? How can we send these signals more? Simply, we can refer more to seminarians! For example, when referring to a person, mention them as a UTS seminarian. Say, “seminarian so and so contributed to ministry and fundraising projects in her local church.” When thanking the community for Global Peace Festival gatherings or other events, try saying “Thank you also to the seminarians here. Let’s have the seminarians stand up.” During worship, simply ask -- “Would a seminarian help us out? Would the seminarians meet with me for coffee? Would a seminarian help with this project?” Another example of giving value is to show a video of UTS seminary. Speak about a project that a seminarian is involved with. Speak about a seminarian in the field or a foreign country. (Did you know that seminarian Frances Vianale is now serving in Africa?) Have a seminarian give a monthly talk at your church. These are the many small but effective ways to give awareness of and significance to our seminary. For the quest of peace in the world, furthered by UTS, we need YOU to do these myriad small efforts.
An old school song still sings in my memory; it went like this: “On a hill by the wood, in a town near the shore, stands a school that our hearts adore. Her halls ring affection with everlasting praise; the lamp of her learning lights our days.”
Could this also be a love song for our seminary?