As the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) reaches its 40th year, faculty and staff are preparing for an unprecedented, three-day event to mark this milestone. That includes graduation of undergraduate as well as graduate students, a reception, a thinkers’ conference for alumni on Sunday and Monday, a documentary slide show, and an open discussion with President Hugh Spurgin– all at the Barrytown campus where the Founder began the school in September 1975.

A visitor to the chapel of the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) in Barrytown today will open the door, and the first thing that hits him or her will be the light. His or her eyes will be drawn to shafts of light streaming down from 16 brand new, double-paned, tinted, argon-gas filled, segmented windows.

Thirty-four graduates received their degrees at the Seminary’s 32nd commencement on Saturday May 24, 2008.

Two honorary degrees were presented: Imam Haitham Bundakji, President of the Islamic Center of Orange County, CA and a pillar of the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI), received a Doctor of Sacred Theology. He spoke very movingly of his conversion from an angry Palestinian who hated the Jews for murdering his two brothers to a man of peace who now embraces his Israeli counterparts. Tears came to his eyes as he praised Reverend Moon for opening his eyes to God’s higher message of peace. Rev. Katsumi Ohtsuka, who has served as President of FFWPU-Japan, received a Doctor of Sacred Theology for his exemplary leadership of the Japanese church, his work for peace organizing goodwill seminars for students from China , Japan and Russia , and his efforts on behalf of the environment.

Two students, Gerhard Bessell and Peter Lis, were given the honor of delivering the graduate responses. Awards were presented to three outstanding graduating graduates: Takatoshi Kudo and Ravil Kayumov received the UTS Service Award, and George Ogurie was presented with the UTS Outreach Award.

The ceremony was graced by a spirited performance by the Fourth Jerusalem Choir led by Seiko Lee, who also sung a beautiful solo rendition of “Morning of an Age” by Kevin Pickard.

Alumni of the class of 1978 who had returned for the 30th reunion also attended the graduation ceremony, along with two of the most beloved faculty members from those days: Dr. Herbert Richardson and Dr. Warren Lewis. Reunion events included a public lecture by alumnus Jonathan Wells, lately of the Discovery Institute, on Intelligent Design and Darwinian Evolution.

Barrytown campus

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