The Master of Religious Education (MRE) program at the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) is a prime example of how religious studies are pioneering new roads in the implementation and practice of both teaching and learning and also interfaith peace building.

I was born in the Netherlands, stereotypically known as the land of windmills, tulips, bicycles and cheese. Among intellectual types, the Netherlands is also known as the land of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, of Erasmus and Spinoza.

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The public will have a chance to walk the grounds of the Unification Theological Seminary thanks to a newly formed agreement with Winnakee Land Trust. The Seminary signed a pedestrian access agreement for “Father’s Trail” on its 250-acre property on Monday, March 13, 2006.

"We've been working for about eight months to get this approved," Henry Christopher, the seminary's director of community relations and admissions, said. "We're showing the community we want to be more involved and that we have a lot more to offer."

The Winnakee Land Trust, based in Rhinebeck, is an organization that aims to protect the natural, agricultural, recreational, cultural and historic resources in northern Dutchess County.

UTS President Dr. Tyler Hendricks is looking forward to welcoming individuals, families and various community organizations, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, school groups, bird watching clubs, the local iceboat club, the Historical Society, etc. to walk the trail and enjoy the natural beauty of the environment and discover the rich history of Barrytown.

Dr. Hendricks said, “Trails don’t just connect properties; they connect people. A walk on Father's Trail, with its views of the mountains, river and bay, nourishes the senses and inspires the spirit. We are looking forward to seeing the public enjoy our historic and scenic site. Families are welcome to come and share all the natural beauty our campus has to offer.”

Red Hook Supervisor Marirose Blum Bump said the pedestrian access conservation easement would be an excellent method for improving the quality of life in Red Hook. “We are delighted to see this new trail open to the public,” she said. “We are very grateful to UTS for providing access to an extraordinary trail, which includes breathtaking views and astonishing natural beauty.”

The prominent Livingston and Aspinwall families owned the land in the 1800s. In the summer of 1868, a 9-year-old Theodore Roosevelt visited the estate with his family for three weeks and explored Tivoli Bay. This planted the seed for his diaries and his collection of insects, birds and mammals. His became one of the first collections in the Museum of Natural History in New York City, which his father helped found, Christopher said.

(From the UTS Press Release and “Seminary agrees to allow access to trails,” by Rasheed Oluwa, Poughkeepsie Journal, March 14, 2006)

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