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Restoring a Keyboard, Growing in Ministry: Samuel Dennis (UTS’18)

At the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) New York City Campus at 4W43 St, the speaker programs and weekly chapel services have now been enhanced by the addition of a keyboard. UTS alumnus, Sam Dennis (UTS’18) was given the keyboard by the First Central Baptist Church, Staten Island NY. First Baptist is the Church of Dr. Demetrius Carolina, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Ministry at UTS. Since graduating with a Master of Arts in Religious Studies in 2018, Sam has been working on his OPT (Optional Practical Training) with UTS and the First Baptist Church.

Sam says, “For Dr. Carolina I work in his non-profit as a Technical Administrator and in his church I am a Minister in Training. Furthermore, I am a part of the Praise and Worship ministry and also part of the Audio-Visual (AV) ministry. For UTS, I am the Praise and Worship Leader for the chapel service and assist in audio-visual and Information technology maintenance on the UTS NYC camp.”

Sam explained about the keyboard which he received when working at First Baptist, “The keyboard had been lying in the church storage for a long time – may be 5 to 10 years, and it was not working. The outer metal, which was originally silver, had turned brown and dust had changed the color of the keys.”

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“I brought it home, opened the keyboard and examined all the connections to check for any loose ends and burn marks. I could not find any, so I decided to remove all the connected components on the main board. I cleaned them and assembled the board back together. When I tried to turn it on…. it did, to my surprise!  “My next task was to make the keyboard look better. I selected a few parts of the keyboard and spray painted them black and the front panel was replaced with a used part which I bought on Ebay.” (See images below) 

Sam has been playing guitar at UTS campus events for the last 3 years; the addition of a keyboard now extends the musical variety at UTS services and events.

Our readers are interested to learn more about the current UTS students and recent graduates. I asked Sam more questions about his experiences at UTS: first some background. Manoranjan “Samuel” Dennis was born in 1990 in Bangalore, India. An earlier article in UTS News explores some of his early life. He studied Aircraft Maintenance Engineering in college, but after graduating he worked in banking, but after a couple of years felt called to go into ministry. Sam earned a Master of Arts in Religious Studies, graduating in May 2018.

How did you find and choose UTS to study?

I found UTS through my relative, Rev. Dr. Christopher Solomon who was the Senior pastor of a Church in the Bronx – St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, and is also a close friend of Rev. Dr. Jacob David. I chose to study at UTS because I wanted to pursue my higher education in theological studies, as I was actively participating in ministerial activities back in India, especially in Music and Worship ministry. 

What has been your experience with UTS professors?

I am personally privileged to have professors from different faith and cultural backgrounds, with a variety of expertise under the umbrella of theological studies. The professors bring to class their immense knowledge, experience and wisdom, and their perspective of life in relation to their faith. This has in turn altered my view of humanity and has challenged my faith and beliefs. Today I stand stronger in my faith than ever before. 

Do you enjoy the interfaith aspect of UTS?

Yes, it has broadened my perspective of religions and people from different cultures. Also UTS has subjects tailored to help us understand the essence of the major religions in the world. 

Have you deepened your faith while attending UTS?

Yes, 100%. The first semesters were difficult as I had to deal with questions which challenged my faith and beliefs but in the end those questions helped deepen my faith. 

Your parents attended your graduation in 2018. What is their impression of what you are pursuing and your attendance at UTS?

Before my parents came to New York and UTS, I told them about what I had been studying and how certain questions changed my perspective for the better, and that now I am rooted deeper in my faith. This they were really happy to hear, and thoroughly enjoyed their visit UTS on my graduation. 

Have you been developing your music ministry? 

Yes, this is the reason that the First Central Baptist Church gave me the keyboard

Your speaking and presentation skills have improved since your first arrived at UTS. To what do you owe this development?

I owe this to my professors in UTS who always believed in me and encouraged me to step-up and come out of my shell to share my knowledge. 

What are your future plans?  

My personal growth has always been consistent since I have been in UTS. I have become a part of the UTS family, especially by working in the library.  I now want to continue my education and eventually earn a Doctor of Ministry degree. My decision was inspired by the UTS professors, as they are a role model in my life.