David S. C. Kim was born in 1915 in Seoul, Korea, as the only child to a father of Christian background and a mother of combined Buddhist and Confucian background. His grandmother was a devout Buddhist follower who was spiritually sensitive; she was associated with many religious groups in Korea. Looking back, he believed that this interfaith-oriented background in his family helped him to research higher truth not only from Christian churches but also from other religions. He reflected that, “I know now that God prepared me to help God’s dispensation.”
His wife, Eui Hong Kang was a teacher at the Presbyterian Church school in Kunsan. They met at that same Presbyterian Church (where he served as deacon and choir director) and married on January 6, 1942. They received the Blessing as one of the 36 Couples in 1961.
In February, 1954, he accepted Rev. Moon as the Messiah to come, as prophesied in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, as the Second Coming of the founders of the major world religions in other non-Christian sacred books; and as the Righteous Man, Chung Do-Ryung in the book called Chung-Gam-Rok. He accepted Rev. Moon even before he met him in person and before hearing the lectures of the Divine Principle from the late Mr. Hyo Won Eu. He testifies that he heard God’s voice solemnly say:
“Listen, dear Sang Chul! I have been training you for 30 years since the age of 9, for your search of the truth through various religious experiences and groups. The time has now come and this is the place I wanted to lead you to. Unconditionally surrender. From now on your new name is David, after King David who destroyed Goliath in the Old Testament. You will be going overseas for pioneer missionary work for this group.”
From that moment he followed Rev. Moon with unwavering faith and dedication. On May 1, 1954, centering on Father a trinity was formed including Mr. Eu, Mr. Sang Hun Lee, and David Kim, who pledged to follow Father and his truth. The next day he became one of the five charter members of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity.
As his revelation from God stated, he was sent overseas as the first pioneer missionary to the West, first to England and then to the United States. He arrived in Oregon on September 18, 1959.
He and Mrs. Kim received the Blessing simultaneously: Mrs. Kim in Seoul, Korea and he in Portland, Oregon. After hiring a lawyer and fighting against the immigration authorities, his wife and five children were finally able to join him in 1965.
He was chosen to be a leader for the International One World Crusade that traveled through many states. In 1975 Rev. Moon asked him to take the helm as the first President of Unification Theological Seminary in Barrytown, where he served until 1994.
During his tenure, the Seminary convened ecumenical conferences, which attracted top scholars and religious leaders from a wide range of denominational backgrounds. Building upon these, UTS organized a number of interfaith initiatives including the Global Congress of the World’s Religions (1977) and the Youth Seminar on the World’s Religions (1982) and the New Ecumenical Research Association (New ERA), begun in 1979. New ERA developed as an interfaith community of theologians that brought together hundreds of religious scholars for wide-ranging discussions, many of which resulted in publications. Several additional interfaith organizations arose from New ERA, among them the International Religious Foundation (IRF), Religious Youth Service (RYS), the Council for the World Religions (CWR), and the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP).
In 1980, the seminary added a three-year Divinity Program, which reflected its commitment to prepare theologically trained ministerial leaders. In 1986, UTS received a provisional charter from the State of New York, and on January 17, 1990 it was granted its Absolute Charter.
In 1994, David Kim stepped down as President of Unification Theological Seminary after 20 years at the helm. He remained active in interfaith work and served faithfully as President Emeritus on the UTS Board and as IOWC president until the final months of his life. In his later years he became known affectionately to those around him as Grandpa Kim.
From 2004 through 2010 he devoted himself to monthly interfaith events, and freely shared internal and external guidance. In 2010 he founded the "Hoon Dok Hae Club" and named his residence as the Hoon Dok Hae Clubhouse. The club meets on the first Sunday of the month. It was after the November meeting that Grandpa Kim’s last words, uttered to those surrounding him in his home, were “Hoon Dok Hae!”
Above excerpted from testimonies published in The Words of David S.C. Kim: Let Us Learn from the Past edited by Jennifer P. Tanabe (2009) and The Ideal Family to Be or Not to Be: Testimonies of a Life of Faith by Jennifer P. Tanabe (2010).