A Case for a Professional Ministry in the Unification Church

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 7, 2006 - Pages 111-118

In my conversations with some elder members of our church in other states, I have encountered some interesting comments. Do we really need UTS? I never did join a church so why do we need ministers? Even if we need church leaders, why should we support them? Why send my youth to UTS to become a leader in our church/movement? There are so many other better paying and respectable jobs than that, aren’t there? What are we anyway in terms of an organization: a church, a movement, a federation, cell church, a Hoon Dok Family Church? We are offering the next generation our positions and we will give them room and board. Why are they not excited? After all, I did my best as first generation now it is time to pass it on and see what they can do. Where are all the Americans? Are we like “chickens running around with our heads cut off?” We are asked to witness, grow our membership, and are given more and more strategies, but where is the focus? And last, but not least, where are the passion, the harmony and the desire that we once had? In an attempt to address some of these questions from my perspective, I submit the following essay.

As we move further into the 21st century, the need for church leadership will become more vital and crucial. It will be up to the educational arm of the Family Federation, The Unification Theological Seminary, to provide the basic orientation, education and instructions for future church leadership that will be required out in the field. We will face the need for pastoral work in many fields. These fields will include marriage/Blessing, outreach and witnessing, media, community service, ecumenical work through the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), counseling, compassionate care, guidance in life and death issues, public relations, spiritual guidance and traditions, and diplomacy and dialogue between the local community and the larger organizational staff at national headquarters.

Ministry can include numerous other areas of Unification movement activity, such as the American Family Coalition (AFC), Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), the International Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), and youth and young adult organizations such as CARP and STF.


The Value of the Church Organization

Often I hear people question whether we need a church. I believe that we do. As recently as the January-February 2006 issue of The Unification News, our movement has been referred to not only as the ‘Family Federation’ (FFWPU) and ‘the movement,’ but also ‘Hoon Dok Family Church,’ and simply ‘the church.’ Reverend Moon is quoted as saying, “The fact that you are in the Unification Church is quite amazing. If you really understood the Divine Principle, you will never be able to leave.”[1] It is clear to me as a working pastor that we are still in the era of requiring a facility and a more or less traditional church organization. We must realize that we are what we call ourselves and firmly establish, support and develop that which we actually are.

Father Moon also is quoted as saying, “I have taken down the HSA-UWC signboard. We are the Family Federation. They are different. FFWPU is also legally distinct.”[2] It is a good idea to request clarity on this. I believe that he is not saying that something was destroyed or closed, but simply that the signboard was taken down. He is talking about our name, and that is fine, as long as we do not spend all our energy dealing with what we call ourselves.

Whatever the name, we are an organization of people under the guidance of the Father Almighty, founded by the Father and Mother Moon inspired by Jesus Christ. We are groups of peoples and families located in fifty states in the United States of America. We have the passion and a theology that has been established to share with all humankind. We call this witnessing and outreach to the greater communities in which we live.

What is our structure? As a faith body, we are organized by our Founder, an international board, a national board, Dr. Chang Shik Yang, our Continental Director, Dr. Michael Jenkins, our President, a number of vice-presidents, block leadership, regional leadership and, finally, in most cases a local board guiding and supporting a senior pastor, youth ministers and lay ministry.

The Unification Theological Seminary is the forefront institution for the training and preparation of leadership in all these areas. This is our institution of higher learning in the field of ministry and religious education. It is a significant institution for doctrinal education, ministerial understand­ing, growth and development in the field of ministry, leadership and church missions. Of course, it is not the only place for complete academic learning. It cannot be. However, it is in a critical and crucial role for this process. Further education takes place while working in the field, and through further studies in schools and various organizations.

Most sources on church growth strongly express the vital need for church leadership. All cell church ministry and other outreach ministries are coordinated and guided by the local pastor and their board. Therefore, a facility for fellowship, worship and training is provided. Isolation leading to individualism is not conducive to success. Much research has pointed out that growth takes place on the basis of a vision that takes form through an organization that provides the necessary support.

It is the honorable role of the Unification Theological Seminary to push forward and present strong church leadership. It is also an institution to promote the well being of seminary graduates in the field. It is a place for liaison work between these leaders in the field and the church national headquarters. It will also continue to be a place of mentoring through continuing education, communication, development and experimentation for those in the field.


The Role of the Professional Pastor

Why is this so crucial? As we develop more outreach in the community, there will emerge increasingly serious needs for well-trained pastors. A greater array of issues will confront us as ministers in the grassroots. The issues are multi-faceted. They will involve the task of representing our faith in the public sphere. Often, the pastor is the spokesperson and “face” in the public and for public relations work. They will also require skills in homiletics, leading a governing board, managing and guiding an organization, raising finances and working with an administrative and ministry staff. It will involve the proper understand of financial management and bookkeeping. In addition, it will require facilitating and delegating jobs necessary to support a community of faith, from maintenance to music, Sunday school to service coordination, and the basic care of all members in their spiritual needs.

Other complex issues will emerge as outreach and growth into the community comes about. This will include dealing with suicide issues, drug issues, divorce issues, marital issues, racial and cultural issues and legal issues. Also, as the congregation or membership of the organization grows, there will be needs for prison ministry, hospital ministry, pastoral counseling and hospice ministry. In all these cases, the need for education and instruction at UTS will become more and more pronounced. UTS will also play a vital role in the support and provision of education to be utilized local in the field.

Of course, all members and all people are “called” to be leaders. Gifts of the ministry are not reserved only for those with the title, “Reverend.” I am not reserving ministry to an elite few. But my point is that within any calling, one can build upon one’s gifts and in order to develop and refine one’s God-given abilities. The person who goes through such education and training in a systematic way is called a professional. A person who knows plumbing or electrical equipment is called to do such work in your home because they have been trained, have worked at it and have become good enough at it to be certified by their recognized peers. Ministers who have been trained and developed his or her skills over the years become great assets for the community. They can in fact deal with tragedy and trauma since they have been trained in such settings and have life experience. This minister or pastor can offer inter-personal support through counseling and internal guidance. That person can conduct religious ceremonies that mean a great deal in terms of personal support and community building. They can administer sanctification through Holy Salting, can give special sermons and talks, and can deal with spiritual possession and spiritual phenomena. As the person matures, they can take on other issues based upon their years in the ministry.

The tasks of a congregation can be and should be delegated to members according to their spiritual gifts, so that all may be able to develop a meaningful personal ministry. Elders and lay ministry are vital for leadership on boards, offering occasional sermons, doing educational work, outreach and the like. Everyone is important. However, to raise up and have a person or persons who have a life invested into spiritual work is essential. The community needs a person who is able and reliable to take care of specific issues that a congregation may face.


The Worker Is Worthy of His Hire

In the past, the Unificationist view was what I would call an ascetic view of ministry. If you were a local church leader, you would either sink or swim. There was no particular job description and no formal expectation of community support. You were pretty much on your own. A few were strong enough to endure; most resigned out of burnout and stress. This cannot be accepted; it will never lead to success in the 21st century. I believe that we have failed to educate ourselves properly on the value and importance of the ministry. We must rethink our policy. When a person works for a business firm under the auspices of the Unification movement, there is always some minimal monetary compensation. If we understand that the pastors and ministers of our organization have value and importance, we must consider the same policy of monetary compensation.

This is not new for other organizations like ours. Indeed, even models such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) provide a strong support structure. There is among the leadership of the LDS monetary compensation equivalent to a salary. Since most ministers in our movement take on numerous tasks in community leadership and coordination, it is fair to recognize their efforts and support their work.

Now, once that is clear, then a deeper question could be put on the table: “Is this particular person worthy of pay? Does s/he deserve a salary?” I believe we have been lulled into misunderstanding the critical leverage exerted by the clergy position within our movement. If some among us have abused or misused this role, we must take a collective sigh, repent and develop methods for evaluation, counseling, correction and, if necessary, discipline, including removing people who perform badly. Yet, for the most part, church leader brothers and sisters are working long hours in their respective churches on a totally sacrificial basis. We must break the mold of demanding this, and thinking that they do not need a salary or that they do not deserve a salary.


The Value of Careers in the Church

Likewise, I believe we have focused on the limitations and burdens of the traditional church structure, and have failed to see the potential of a vibrant, active “church organization,” including a building and her people, within a community. A congregation can become the “movers and shakers” in a community. As they build something substantial, the larger community will recognize and respect this. The community in return will come to seek counsel, advice and give support to that ministry. Long-term investment will pay off both spiritually and physically.

It is be important to note that it is not the responsibility of the national church to provide funding for local work. But the national body does need to provide clear policy in terms of compensation for leadership. Headquarters acts as a guide and provides a format for local communities to adopt according to their local resources. Without any national policy whatsoever, it is difficult to start the local conversation leading to implementation. Then compensation matters devolve to whatever local people want to do. What I propose is similar to the guidance national headquarters has been giving for years on property sales and bookkeeping issues. It provides policy and guidance for the local church to implement.

With continued proper and cutting edge education at the Unification Theological Seminary, plus national policy and resource support for the field, we will not only have a dynamic church leadership, we will also have long-term leadership. This means that the church will be seen as offering a future for life employment. This will help develop a longer lasting presence in the community, senior pastoral positions, mentoring for those who desire a ministerial vocation, opportunities for students at UTS to do field work under such pastors, and an organization that has a long and stable track record in the community.


The Role of the Unification Theological Seminary

As we rekindle the pride of the position and place of church leadership, we naturally will come to place greater emphasis on the value and significance of the Unification Theological Seminary. This should not be out of arrogance or the accumulation of power, but as an honorable way that will inspire young people who see that such a career is virtuous. Church leadership should provide the stability necessary to raise a family as one pursues a vibrant occupation that adds value to the community.

It is my premise that we have never really given enough credit and credence to the Unification Theological Seminary. We have to encourage our youth to pursue UTS and church leadership, especially those who feel a calling and are seeking a vocation. We must foster this thinking and desire.

I firmly believe that God has a incredible blessings in store for us. We can place hope in the buildings we purchased so many years ago. We have to place more energy into really growing congregations all over America. With wisdom, we can do this and make it substantial. “Hoon Dok Family Churches” with strong and stable church leadership will blossom and spring forth before our eyes. It is our opportunity to give this vision a real chance.

Likewise, we must place a concerted effort, beginning at the Unification Theological Seminary, to provide the proper care and support to the church leaders in the field. We must take a hard look into their financial well being as well as their spiritual well being. It is assumed and it must be emphasized that a good church leader when properly equipped will take care of his and her members, and we need to make our leaders accountable to display the core skills and spirit of Unification spiritual parents. “These virtues,” in Dr. Hendricks’s words, “are sacrifice, serving, teaching, exem­plifying, disciplining, counseling, (and) provision of sustenance and vision.”[3]

Therefore, a national policy must be considered regarding the salary, health insurance, life insurance, retirement planning, benefits to the children and incentives appropriate to church leadership, including advancement. It is reasonable to encourage us to research the other churches to evaluate their guidelines and long history of understanding of these issues.[4]


Professionalism and Stability

There is greater power in organizations that demonstrate stability. We will surely draw more young people and new people into the church leadership, ministry, pastoral work and general mission positions if we take a more professional approach. We will emerge even more in our communities with greater energy, developing more credibility, establishing more outreach and successfully gaining more membership.

When an organization is growing and developing, it gains greater respect. Sincere people know how much effort, sweat and tears goes into building a community. Political leaders are drawn to churches with effective outreach and activities that benefit others in the public sphere. People are attracted to vibrancy, community service, and active participation within the greater community. With a strong, stable leadership, a church can grow and can begin not only to mentor its own members but those with whom they work and influence each day.

The people cannot be drawn to us if they do not see us. We cannot lead if we do not have leadership. We cannot flourish if the leader is floundering in bills, barely keeping his or her family afloat.

Then young people who are seeking a vocation in the ministry will not only have the great educational opportunities that UTS can provide, but they will have a solid structure to plug into when they go into the field for their mission work.

The potential for incredible breakthroughs will come from the guidance of Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It also will come by us wisely organizing and substantially instituting sound financial policies. This needs to be linked to a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a church leader in the field, including the ramifications of success or failure, with appropriate promotion and demotion. This will help bring about a truly energized, empowered and passionate organization. We will surely be successful, a key player in the community and a draw to millions to work with us and join our organization, be it called a church or federation. This is a case for a professional ministry in the Unification Church.



[1]. Unification News, January/February 2006, p. 12.

[2]. Ibid., p. 5

[3]. Tyler O. Hendricks, Family, Church, Community, Kingdom (New York: HSA-UWC, 2000), p. 114.

[4]. Ibid., 26, 40.