The Words of the Gehring Family

The Value of My UTS Experience

John Gehring
June, 1999

Sometimes we wonder if we should take the chance and invest in purchasing a home for our family. After living in the home for ten or fifteen years it becomes clear if the investment was really worth it. I use this analogy to compare the investment of three years of my life in attending the Unification Theological Seminar. It is fifteen years since I graduated from UTS and I can clearly see that a wise investment was made.

A good education always provides the student with an added sense of confidence. Education allows you to see how things work, it shows the paths that have been taken by some, and it stimulates you on your chosen path. I appreciate the education at UTS for three or four central reasons.

Life at UTS gave me a chance to read and study many of the themes I was interested in knowing about more deeply. I especially appreciated the hundreds of hours of reading that I could invest in studying the philosophy of Unificationism and learning how it compared with other ways of thinking. Confidence comes when you understand the valuable gift we have been given and you can see how that resource can be used to create a better living environment. By nature, the "God talk" in theology and the classes on counseling were inspiring and they have served to strengthen my relationship with God and with others.

One of the most exciting thing for me at the seminar was the professional training I received through field education. I spent two summers in Boston and Washington DC with Bill Brunhoeffer and Patsy Cassino working with Christian ministers in the realm of social action. Many older ministers were happy to share deep life experiences with us. They treated us as fellow ministers and this was important in helping me find my own identity.

Other activities that added to the UTS experience and proved valuable and fun were being part of the ICUS staff, taking part in minister conferences in the Bahamas (yes the beaches were fine), doing church visitation and developing the beginnings of a Home Church area. These diverse experiences balanced out the academic rigors of the seminary and have added knowledge, a little wisdom and some confidence that have been very useful in both my professional life and in teaching how to relate to a wide spectrum of humanity.

Even though academics and field education provide an excellent reason to go to UTS a third element stands out as a reminder of the good investment that I made. I have some life long friends that are eternally precious to me. Although I may not express my appreciate to them enough, their laughter, effort, support and care mean a great deal to me. Actually, the network of relationships that has been built as a result of my time in UTS is very large, it extends beyond my particular classmates and brushes the shoulders of each class that has gone through the 'same' seminary experience in the last twenty one years.

UTS provided a path to my work with the International Religious Foundation and especially the Religious Youth Service (RYS). This work is an extension of the heart and vision of True Parents and it has helped stimulate tens of thousands of youth around the world. A part of that vision and heart was given to me at UTS and I am deeply grateful.

Now, that fifteen years have past since graduating from UTS a little self congratulation may be due. Who would of thought that a three year commitment to UTS would have turned out to have such a valuable impact on my life. Well, maybe luck had some part in it, but more seriously, my trusting Father's desire for me, had a much larger part in me choosing the path that passed through UTS.

John Gehring currently teaches "Practicum in Teaching" at UTS and is the International Director of the Religious Youth Service.

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