Drew’s Global Heritage: History of International Students at Drew Theolog …

Jung-Doo Kim speaking with Dr. Vivian Bull about Drew's history of international students.

An Overview of the Early History of International Students at Drew

The work of writing a history is a process of research, selection, and interpretation. In the case of the history of international students at Drew Theological School, one can distinguish two periods: the period of accepting, training (equipping), and sending; and the period of learning from each other. The early historical records of foreign students at Drew show that Drew gave admission to foreign students, taught them, and sent them to their home country. They returned to their contexts and began to teach and enlighten their people, following what they had learned in America.

There was no international student in 1867 when Drew Theological Seminary was established, but that quickly changed. Which country did the first international student come from? The first foreign student entered Drew in 1868; his name was George J. Griffiths and he came from London, England. In 1871, James Montgomery, a Canadian student, joined. The first international students who came from outside the Americas and Europe arrived at Drew as early as 1872. They were Mooney Lal Banerjea, who was from India, and Akira Kuchiki, who was from Japan. The first Bulgarian students were Jordan J. Economoff and Theodore G. Boyanoff, who became students at Drew in 1873. The year of 1874 welcomed the first French student, B. E. Gastineau, who held a B. S. degree from the University of Paris; the first Macedonian student, T. K. Teslitchkoff; and the first Norwegian student, P. C. Thyholdt. The first Irish student was J. J. Moffitt, who hailed from Enniskillen and came to Drew in 1876.[1]

Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, a variety of foreign students began to enter the Drew forest, and new countries were added to the roster of students’ homelands:  in addition to England, Canada, India, Japan, Bulgaria, France, Macedonia, Norway, and Ireland, we learn of students from China, Italy, Germany, Scotland, the Philippine Islands, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore, Chile, Armenia, Russia, Persia, Jamaica, Sicily, Turkey, Austria, Romania, Korea, and Java.

Julio Samuel Valenzuela, who came to Drew from Chile in 1903, can be considered the first Latin American student; his son, the future Chilean-Methodist Bishop Raimundo Valenzuela Arms, would earn his Master of Divinity from Drew Seminary in 1940, and his grandson Arturo A. Valenzuela, United States Assistant Secretary of State from 2009 to 2011, would earn a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Religion from Drew’s College of Liberal Arts in 1971.

Young Hiang Hwang, who was from Nanking, China, and joined Drew in 1904, can be considered the first Chinese student. In 1905, Edwin Ruddock, a Jamaican student, arrived. In 1907, Nicolas C. Vardakas, of Yanina, Turkey, entered Drew Theological Seminary; he was a graduate of Anatolia College, Marsovan, Turkey.[2] It is also fascinating that many Bulgarian students continued to come to Drew, including the famous spiritual leader Peter Deunov, also known as Master Beinsa Douno, who studied at Drew Seminary from 1888 to 1892.

One of the greatest international alumni from this early period is the Japanese Yoitsu Honda. He was converted by Drew missionaries to Japan and became a student in the special course of study at Drew from 1889 to 1890. He belonged to the Newark Conference and returned to Japan as a missionary. In 1908, he was elected as the first bishop in the Japanese Methodist Church. He translated several English religious works into Japanese.[3]Jung Doo Kim, PhD student in Theological and Philosophical Studies


[1] Drew University Bulletin 1867/68-1876/77, Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, NJ.

[2] Year book and Catalogue of Drew Theological Seminary 1900-1910, Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, NJ.

[3] Charles Fremont Sitterly, The Building of Drew University (New York: The Methodist Book Concern, 1938), p. 213; William Pearson Tolley (ed.), Alumni Record of Drew Theological Seminary 1867-1925 (Madison: Drew Theological Seminary, 1926), pp. 587-588; Ezra Squier Tipple (ed.), Drew Theological Seminary 1867-1917: A Review of the First Half Century (New York: The Methodist Book Concern, 1917), pp. 186-187.

Li Jung-Fang, an Early Graduate from China

The first Chinese doctoral graduate from Drew was Li Jung-Fang (Li Rongfang, 1887-1965), who came from China to America to pursue theological studies. He entered Drew seminary in 1913 and earned a B.D. degree in 1916, a Th.D. in 1918. His major was the Old Testament and Biblical Hebrew, and he is considered “the first Chinese to undergo vigorous training in Western critical biblical scholarship.”[1] He returned to China, taught Hebrew Bible at Yenching University and became Dean of the School of Religion of Yenching University.

Li’s research was founded in the historical-critical method. He also undertook archaeological investigations in Palestine. His many articles were very influential in China. Deserving special mention is the fact that he wrote and edited the first Hebrew-Chinese Dictionary published in China.[2] He also trained many influential biblical scholars in China. Li was appointed as “the committee member of the Second Chinese Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee.” He engaged the socio-intellectual context of the May Fourth Movement in China, which was a movement of modernization, democratization and Westernization of China.  He has been considered the best Old Testament scholar of twentieth-century China and a pioneer in academic biblical studies.[3]

I am very proud of the number of illustrious international figures who have received doctoral degrees from Drew. As I have engaged in this historical research, the following thought has come to me: Writing a history is a process of new creation. Writing a history is the work of new creation because a writer researches, focuses on, selects and interprets certain historical materials from a certain angle. This work includes the process of new discovery, correction of wrong data, and interpretation and illumination of the future. However, writing a history is not just tracing and reinterpreting past times and events. Our present journey, living and walking forward together at Drew, is the work of making history and a new creation. Our every effort in the Center for Christianities in Global Contexts becomes a part of the history both of Drew and of global Christianities.Jung Doo Kim, PhD student in Theological and Philosophical Studies

[1] Archie C. C. Lee, “Critical Biblical Hermeneutics of Li Rongfang: In the Socio-Intellectual Context of China,” in Border Crossings: Cross-Cultural Hermeneutics, Edited by D. N. Premnath (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2007), p. 71; Dr. Vivian Bull also provided some useful information regarding Li Jung-Fang.

[2] Ibid., p. 72.

[3] Ibid.

The History of Korean Students at Drew

From the early period of Drew history, there were students of diverse nationalities and races who gathered regularly in the “International Club.”[1] Among them were students from Korea. The first Korean student at Drew can be identified as Ushoon Kim, who studied at Drew from 1918-1920, though he did not graduate.[2] He was the circuit pastor for involved in the revival movement, ministering to local churches in Pyung Yang, Seoul, and elsewhere. In 1949, he was elected as the 9th bishop of the Korean Methodist Church.[3] In 1950, he was arrested and persecuted by the communist military; he is commemorated as one of 231 protestant martyrs in Korea.[4]

The first Korean ThD was Hong Kew Pyen, who earned the ThM in 1929 and the ThD in Old Testament in 1931 at Drew. He served as a professor and as the president of Methodist Theological Seminary, Seoul, Korea. He was elected as the bishop of the Korean Methodist Church in 1967. He participated in the movement of independence from the Japanese Empire.  As a Biblical theologian influenced by Karl Barth’s neo-orthodoxy, he contributed to Korean theological formation by charting a path that conjoined both liberal and conservative tendencies.[5]

Yil Hyung Chyung earned PhD in 1935 at Drew. The title of his dissertation was “A Study of Successful Rural Churches and Organizations in America and an Adaptation to Korea.”[6] He returned to Korea and became a politician, elected as a Congressman and going on to serve as General Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the Korean government and a Korean delegate to UN, and the leader of Minjudang and Sinmindang which were democratic parties. He participated in the independence movement, the human rights movement, and the democratic movement.[7] He was a mentor of former President Dae Jung Kim, who was a recipient of the Nobel Peace prize. Hee Ho Lee, who is President Dae Jung Kim’s first lady, received an honorary Doctor of humane letters at Drew in 2000.

Soon Kyung Park was the first female PhD among Korean theologians. She received her PhD in Systematic Theology at Drew in 1966.[8] She served as a professor of systematic theology and historical theology at Ewha Woman’s University and Mokwon University in Korea. She contributed to the development of feminist theology in Korea, especially by establishing the Korean Woman Theologian Association. She developed a theology for the unification of the Korean peninsula. She has been a social activist and an activist for the unification and peace in the Korean peninsula.[9]

One of the most famous scholars and influential theologians among Korean alumni/ae was Sun Hwan Pyun. He graduated from the STM program at Drew in 1967 and earned his Dr. Theol. at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Based on a theology of indigenization, a liberation theology of religion and religious pluralism, he evolved a Korean theology of religion through dialogue with other religions. He was invited as the Vosbough visiting professor to Drew and taught Asian theology in January 1987. In October 1987, he was also invited with Paul Knitter to the Vosbough Lecture at Drew and gave a lecture on “Buddhist-Christian Dialogue towards the Liberation of Minjung.” Dr. Pyun served as the president of Methodist Theological Seminary in Seoul, Korea.[10] Several current university presidents in Korea are alumni of Drew Theological School.

This part of Drew international students’ history is distinctive, yet it also well represents the typical stories of international alumni/ae from Drew. Drew Theological School has trained and sent all over the world many international students who became great spiritual, intellectual and socio-political leaders and pioneers in their own contexts. I believe this reveals a crucial part of Drew’s ongoing contribution to Christianities in global contexts. Drew has many prominent alumni/ae in Africa, South America and Europe too. Their stories are anticipating another research process.Jung Doo Kim, PhD student in Theological and Philosophical Studies

[1] John T. Cunningham, University in the Forest: The Story of Drew University (Phoenix Color Corporation, 2002), p. 110.

[2] William Pearson Tolley (ed.), Alumni Record of Drew Theological Seminary 1867-1925 (Madison: Drew Theological Seminary, 1926), p. 497. (This material is lodged in Drew University Library.)

[3] Sung Sam Lee, The History of Korean Methodist Church (1945-1998) (Seoul: Sinangkwajisungsa), pp. 62-64.

[4] See the website of Korean Church Martyrs Missionary Association, http://kcmma.org/.

[5] Chai-yong Choo, A History of Christian Theology in Korea (Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea, 1998), pp. 112-114.

[6] This dissertation is on the stack of Drew University Library.

[7] See the website of Yilhyung Chyung and Taiyoung Lee Memorial Foundation, http://www.chyunglee.com/.

[8] Drew University, Drew Univeraity Alumni/ae Directory 2003 (Publishing Concepts, 2002), p. 238.

[10] Committee for Publishing the Selected Articles in Honor of Dean Sun Hwan Pyun’s Retirement, The Religious Pluralism and Korean Theology (Cheon Ahn: Hankuk Sinhak Yeonkuso, 1992); Jung Young Lee, “Korean Christian Thought,” in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, Edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford & Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1993); Kang-nam Oh, “Christian-Buddhist Encounter in Korea,” in Christianity in Korea, Edited by Robert E. Buswell Jr. & Timothy S. Lee (Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 2006), pp. 374-376.

Peter Deunov: An Early Graduate from Bulgaria

Peter Deunov was born on 11 July 1864 in Nikolaevka, Bulgaria, the third child of the Orthodox priest Konstantin Deunov and Dobra Georgieva. On 24 June 1887, he completed his studies at the American School of Theology in Svishtov, Bulgaria, and from 1887 to the summer of 1888 he served as pastor of the Methodist church in the village of Hotantsa, where he also worked as a primary school teacher. From 1888 to 1892 he was a student at Drew Theological School. After graduating from Drew, he enrolled first at Boston University School of Theology and then at the School of Medicine at Boston University, but after a year he left medical school and returned to Bulgaria. There he refused the positions offered to him as Methodist pastor and withdrew, mainly into the mountains, to prepare for the next stage of his work. Soon afterward, he began his career as esoteric teacher, spiritual master, lecturer, and writer.

The various aspects of Deunov’s teaching are set out and developed in about 7000 lectures, delivered in the period from 1900 to 1944. They were published in several multi-volume series: lectures before the General Class, lectures before the Special Class, Sunday lectures, Annual Meeting lectures, Morning lectures, etc. The main categories in his teaching are Love, Wisdom, Truth, Justice and Virtue, understood as attributes of the historic, cosmic, and mystic Christ. Love is a central macro- and micro-cosmic category, functioning in the various aspects of human existence as aspiration (in the emotional sphere or the heart), feeling (in the soul), power (in the ideal sphere of the ‘I’ or the mind) and principle (in the spirit).  According to Deunov, Christ is the supreme governor of the Great Universal Brotherhood. At that time, his adherents called him Master Beinsa Douno and named the movement “Universal White Brotherhood,” because they typically dressed in white, as a symbol for purity of soul and mind; later adherents also refer to themselves as the “Brotherhood of Light.”

On 24 February 1922, Deunov opened a School in Sofia, which he called “School of the Universal White Brotherhood.”  It consisted of two classes of students. The “Word of the Master Peter Deunov” was considered to be “Light – the living Word of Christ.” In 1927 Beinsa Douno established the settlement Izgrev near Sofia, where he gathered his disciples. In Izgrev he delivered various series of his teachings. The main methods for spiritual work in the School of the Universal White Brotherhood were prayer gatherings, musical and respiratory exercises, reading of the “Word of Master Beinsa Douno,” greeting the sunrise, outings in the mountains, life in brotherhood communities, annual meetings, etc., as well as practicing the “Paneurhytmy” dance. All of the methods and teachings of Deunov are considered practices for experiencing Christ through the wholeness of the human being and more precisely through the etheric human body. Peter Deunov died on 27 December 1944 and was buried in Izgrev.

Both during his lifetime and beyond, Peter Deunov was influential as a writer, composer, and spiritualist, promoting in his philosophy of strict vegetarianism, healthy living, and attunement to nature, leading to universal love towards humanity, creation, and God.  Although resonances with other traditions might also be detected, Deunov believed that his philosophy was based in Christ’s teachings,while preaching religious tolerance with a mystical and cosmic slant, searching for transcendental principles. Deunov was as controversial as he was influential; his mystical approach to philosophy and spiritualism was often declared heretical and dangerous. Since his death, however, there has been a rise of interest in Deunov’s philosophy. Indeed, he is the most published Bulgarian author to this day. He has been translated, published, and republished in Russian, German, English, Spanish, French, Polish, Chinese, and other languages. His Universal Brotherhood is flourishing and growing with dozens of spiritual centers worldwide.—Nick Petrov, PhD student in Wesleyan and Methodist Studies


http://www.BeinsaDouno.org/en – Official web page of the White Brotherhood, Bulgaria, in Bulgarian, English, Russian, French, German, Polish etc., with hundreds of his 4,000 original lectures available in several languages

http://powerandlife.com – Beinsa Douno library in several languages

www.bratstvoto.net – Web page dedicated to Master Peter Deunov

Milka Kraleva.  The Master Peter Deunov: His Life and Teaching. Lancaster, UK: Gazelle Distribution Trade, 2001.

Ardella Nathanael. Dance of the Soul: Peter Deunov’s Pan-Eu-Rhythmy. Carlsbad, CA, Esoteric Publishing, 2006.

Ardella Nathanael. The Butterfly Dance: Peter Deunov’s PanEuRhythmy. San Rafael, CA, CreateSpace, 2010.

David Lorimer.  Gems of Love and Wisdom – Prayers, Meditations and Reflections By Beinsa Douno (Peter Deunov). Element Books Ltd, 1991.

Bojan Boev, The Wellspring of Good: The Last Words of the Master Peter Deunov. Non Basic Stock Line, 2002.

Alex Boraine: A South African Graduate

Born in 1931 in Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Alexander Lionel Boraine received his PhD from Drew’s Graduate School in 1969, writing a dissertation on Wesley’s theology of evangelism. Prior to coming to Drew, Dr. Boraine studied at Rhodes University in South Africa and Oxford University. He was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1956, and in 1970 he was appointed the youngest ever President of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Dr. Boraine then turned his focus to politics, being elected a minister of parliament where he served from 1974 to 1986. Following his public service, he co-founded Idasa – Institute for Democracy in Africa – with Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert.

Dr. Boraine was closely involved with South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission serving as the deputy chair appointed by President Nelson Mandela. The chairman of the Commission, The Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote the introduction to Dr. Boraine’s memoirs, A Life in Transition (Cape Town: Zebra Press, 2008). Dr. Boraine wrote a candid and moving account of his experiences on the Commission in A Country Unmasked: Inside South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Oxford University Press, 2001). In addition to his work on the Commission, Dr. Boraine co-founded the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) in 2001 (http://ictj.org). Using his experience in South Africa, Dr. Boraine has traveled all over the world to assist with the transition to democracy, sharing the successful methods of democratic governance used in that country.

Dr. Boraine has led a life of valor and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. He has received many awards including six honorary doctorate degrees from universities around the world and the President’s Medal for Human Rights by the Italian government in 2000. He still serves ICTJ and is now serving as a member of the Advisory Board of Directors and a Global Visiting Professor of Law at the NYU School of Law’s Hauser Global Law School Program.—Nick Petrov, PhD student in Wesleyan and Methodist Studies and Theresa Ellis, PhD student in Religion and Society