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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kasbow familyDavid Kasbow with his wife, Shigeko, and their son, Adam.David Kasbow, a proud Detroiter, has been giving back to the city of his birth since the year he graduated from UTS with a Master in Religious Education in 1991. Giving back for Kasbow means what he calls, “restoring the severe brokenness” found there, and his chief restorative instrument is interfaith engagement.

Whereas interfaith events are routine in the ministries of some, Kasbow does them with panache. His all-Detroit Conference on the Family in April 2014 drew 120 clergy, including rabbis, Catholic priests, Protestants of diverse stripes and Muslim imams, though he managed all this with no staff. His reception, in Detroit, for the 50 state Prayer Ground Tour led by Unificationist President Michael Balcomb in 2014 was covered by reporters from both Detroit dailies and two local TV stations.

Kasbow says he credits UTS with opening his mind to the wisdom of the saints from many branches of Christendom. “UTS really opened for me the thinking of the Christian world through the experience of the various Christian professors – Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Methodist, Dutch Reformed - plus the wisdom of a Confucianist professor,” he says.

The unfailing optimism of the Founder of UTS, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, became his credo as well. “I really think that God is directing every moment of American political and cultural history in a mysterious way in order to bring spiritual victory to the world by 2020,” he told the UTS News in a recent interview.

Having left his university studies in 1973 to join the One World Crusade of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the Detroit native decided to go back to school in 1985 to complete his undergraduate degree while working fulltime at the Washington Times in Washington, D.C. With that accomplished, he promptly enrolled in Loyola College in Baltimore and spent 1988-89 earning his Master Degree in Clinical Psychology.

In the fall of 1989 he packed his VW bug and drove from Baltimore to UTS and enrolled with the goal of combining his professional skills in clinical psychology with insights from the Unificationist faith. Dr. Joe McMahon, UTS professor in Counseling helped Kasbow complete his practicum while at the Barrytown campus of UTS.

That same year he met Shigeko Yamada at a Unificationist matching occasion held by Rev. Moon in Korea and within 48 hours they were betrothed as a couple dedicated to build an ideal world of godly families. They have one son, Adam.

Graduating in 1991 from UTS at Barrytown, he was off to work with his fellow clergy in the Unification movement. But that same year Rev. Moon called upon all Unificationists to return to their hometowns and to invest in making themselves “messiahs” to their own families and associates, so David and Shigeko packed their belongings and moved to Detroit.  He practiced as a licensed psychologist until 1995, when he was called to serve as a part-time pastor to the Unificationist congregation in Detroit.

In 2000 he made the transition to pursuing his passion to serve as a fulltime pastor. For the last 15 years his mission focused on outreach to interfaith groups under the umbrella of the American Clergy Leadership Conference. After 40 years of missionary endeavor, Kasbow has not tired of evangelizing, witnessing and teaching.

Kasbow does more than introduce the Divine Principle, the Bible-based theology taught by Rev. Moon, at his events: He teaches in depth (see program for his November 2014 conference on marriage), and his weekly meeting with clergy on Wednesday evenings invariably includes a lesson with a Unificationist perspective.

Part of his success in interfaith organizing is that he has learned from and made use of alliances with friends in faith from other denominations: Dr. Michael Ross, a devout Roman Catholic as well as a physician and proponent for strengthening marriage, has been his partner in public-outreach events for the last two years. On July 10th this year, the two of them supported an open-air wedding ceremony in the inner city where one local couple concluded 17 years of cohabitation with the public pronouncement of formal vows. Another local couple renewed their vows at the same event.

Kasbow and Ross working together have begun to build a cohesive, interfaith task force which focusses on marriage mentoring and the Blessing of marriage, that has as its goal to dramatically increase the number of two-parent families in Detroit and to roll back the rate of out-of-wedlock births, which in the inner city is 90 percent. They believe that pastors can motivate citizens in a way that public-school teachers and social workers cannot.
Given the grim statistics of poverty and crime in Detroit, raising the marriage rate is a tall order, but the challenge hasn’t stopped Kasbow and his friends in faith from aiming to make Detroit into “Marriage Motown” as their goal for the year 2020. In 2013 he published his autobiography, My Life with Rev. Moon, available at

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