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.

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young tack yang familyRev. Young Tack Yang (UTS ’2000) with his wife and childrenRev. Young Tack Yang (UTS ’2000), has been appointed pastor of the 12th District of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), USA, UTS News has learned. The 12th District covers Southern California and Arizona.

Rev. Yang, who recently completed the 21 day Global Top Gun workshop in Korea, was born and raised in Korea by pioneers of the Unification movement. He is the first 2nd generation Unificationist who is also a UTS alumnus to be appointed as a district pastor in the United States.

“Rev. George Kazakos, who remains the Senior Pastor of the Los Angeles Family Church, and Rev. Yang will successfully work together to lead the district to great development and growth. We wish them success and pledge our support,” according to a congratulatory letter from Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, Continental Chairman, FFWPU North America, and Dr. Michael Balcomb, President of FFWPU USA.

Rev. Yang graduated from Yonsei University in 1992 with a degree in philosophy. During this period he served as the Church Leader of Chungju Southern Church and was the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) Leader of Seowon University. After graduation, he was assigned as CARP leader of Shinchon CARP Center (Yonsei and Ewha Women's University) until September, 1995.

Rev. Yang continued his education, graduating from the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) with a Master of Religious Education in 2000. Upon graduation, he was assigned as Regional Director, FFWPU of Connecticut and served from September, 2000 to September, 2003. Following that, he worked as Regional Director, FFWPU in Atlanta, taking responsibility for the area of Georgia and South Carolina until 2006.

“UTS gave me a chance to meet many good people, not only faculty members and students but many local members through special activities like mobilizing for the Wedding Blessing of 1997. These meetings made me listen to church members’ heart in my ministry and gave me ideas for avoiding mistakes of early Korean leaders,” Yang says.

Dr. Tyler Hendricks, former UTS president, left a lasting impression on the young Korean seminarian. As he puts it, “Dr. Hendricks emphasized the importance of music more than the sermon, saying ‘more music, less talk.’ He set an example by playing a guitar and singing like a rock and roll star.”

Rev. Yang adds: “It was quite interesting to me. Even though I cannot play any musical instruments, I tried to accept his advice by strengthening church choirs and encouraging members to show their musical talent in my ministry.”

He also reflects on his memory of the grounds at the Barrytown campus. “I cannot forget beautiful autumn leave at UTS. It was really fantastic. I‘ve never seen such a beautiful autumn leaves even in Korea.”

In 2006, when True Parents asked Korean Regional Directors to return to Korea, Rev. Yang began his work with the central committee of Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Korea, with the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), Korea and with the Family Party of Korea. In 2008, Rev. Yang returned to the United States where he served as the Atlanta Korean Evangelical Association Assistant Pastor. In June, 2012, Rev. Yang was assigned by the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Mrs. Moon as the Continental Chair of the Middle East FFWPU, where he served until March of this year. He and his wife, Jungju, were blessed in marriage in 1989 as part of the Second-Generation 72 Couples MarriageBlessing. They have five children, three of whom are in college, and two in middle and elementary school.

In an email, he writes, “I’d like to recommend UTS to 2nd Generation Unificationists for the purpose of gaining diverse experiences which will prepare them as future leaders. But in order to earn those experiences, they should be ready to invest themselves. I don’t think that they can earn them for free without any efforts.” 

“Because of financial difficulty,” says Rev. Yang, “I had to work in the kitchen many hours, and sometimes I had to sell flowers to support my tuition but everything became precious memories.”

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