Labyrinth VII – Unification Theological Seminary

Our labyrinth hunt is taking us further afield.  The Unification Theological Seminary (UTS)—unknown to me before this trip—is situated almost an hour away on the east side of the Hudson River, in Barrytown.  The buildings are fairly impressive; the grounds are well-kept and beautiful.

In the first parking lot, we stopped a couple getting ready to hike who directed us up the road.  “The labyrinth is on the left,” the man said.  Of course, we missed it and ended up driving around the site, eventually passing some homes.  Two people and a dog were out in their garden, so we asked again.

From the way he spoke, the man seemed to belong to the place.  “We’re fixing it up,” he said of the labyrinth.  “Some of the bricks have sunk into the ground.”

Following his directions, we managed to find it.  After the peace pole, we spotted the overgrown labyrinth.  The entrance is marked by a pretty, vine-covered gate.  And yes, the bricks are buried and yes, it was so hard to discern the paths and turns that I eventually gave up. 

However, I spent a happy half hour swishing through the weeds, looking hard for the switchbacks, and reading the signs posted at the four compass points and in the center.  And for all that walking, I only found one tick on my white pants.

This labyrinth is an eleven-circuit one in the Chartres cathedral style.  It’s big, eighty feet in diameter.  Over on one side is a memorial bench. 

Once we got back to the car, we explored other monuments.  I was getting the drift that this place had a long history, and I was curious to look it up online later.

We met the hikers again and learned that the UTS was founded by Sun Myung Moon.  That name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember anything about him. 

Here’s the UTS profile from its website (https://uts.edu/about-uts/profile-of-uts):

The Unification Theological Seminary [UTS] prepares its graduate for professional careers in the ministry and in public leadership. UTS serves as the Home of Thought for the teachings of Unificationism. While at UTS, all students master the teachings of Christian tradition and learn about the core underpinnings of the World Religions. UTS confers four accredited graduate degrees: Doctor of Ministry, Master of Divinity, Master of Religious Education and Master of Arts in Religious Studies.

UTS has a gifted, respected faculty from differing religious backgrounds and denominations. UTS fosters an ethos of faith and of living for the sake of others. The seminary’s more than sixteen hundred graduates serve in a broad array of missions in the church and in public leadership. Many go on to pursue careers in interfaith organizations, in education, journalism, law, medicine, politics and business. UTS graduates have gone on to pursue doctoral studies at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Chicago, Columbia, Vanderbilt, Graduate Theological Union, and other top educational institutions.

Apparently, UTS is still viable, but classes are currently held online.  And yes, it was indeed founded by Sun Myung Moon. This part of the UTS history is from the same website:

Less than three years after he began his ministry in the United States in December 1971, Reverend Moon initiated plans for the establishment of his young church’s first theological seminary. For this purpose, in 1974 the church purchased the campus of St. Joseph’s Normal Institute, a Christian Brothers boarding school located in the Hudson Valley that had recently closed. Dr. David S. C. Kim was appointed to establish the Seminary and lead it as its first president. President Kim assembled a faculty and staff, and on September 20, 1975 UTS welcomed the first class of 56 students, who enrolled in a two year Religious Education Program. In 1980 the Seminary added a three year Divinity Program to better prepare students for ministerial leadership.

Sun Myung Moon’s biography is surprising.  Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian

( https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/03/moonies-sun-myung-moon-dies )

Moon founded the church in 1954 amid the ruins of South Korea and promoted a mixture of Christianity and his own conservative, family-oriented teachings. He preached new interpretations of lessons from the Bible, and fused elements of Christianity and Confucianism – outlining his principles in his book, Explanation of the Divine Principle, published in 1957.

In later years, the church built a business empire that included the Washington Times newspaper, the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, Bridgeport University in Connecticut, as well as a hotel and a car plant in North Korea. It acquired a ski resort, a professional soccer team and other businesses in South Korea, and a seafood firm that supplies sushi to Japanese restaurants across the United States.

Moon seems to have made some questionable moves in his long life.  However, the Seminary appears to be an accredited college that has hosted, in its past, many illustrious speakers.

At the end of our visit, we had not only found a labyrinth and a lovely place, we’d also had our curiosity piqued and learned some new history.

In Book III, Awakening Magic, Prince Emric must avert a war by relocating the faeries’ labyrinth.

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