University Bible Fellowship

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University Bible Fellowship
Formation1961; 58 years ago (1961)
FoundersSamuel Chang-Woo Lee
Sarah Barry
Founded atSouth Korea
Type501(c) organization
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersChicago, Illinois

The University Bible Fellowship (UBF; Korean: 대학생성경읽기선교회) is an international evangelical non-denominational Christian entity that originated in South Korea in 1961. It was founded through a partnership between a Korean, Samuel Chang-Woo Lee, and Sarah Barry, an American Presbyterian missionary who was sent to South Korea. The international headquarters of UBF is in Chicago. The group members are concentrated in South Korea, but has chapters in 91 countries including American universities and community colleges.[1] The organization's stated goal is student evangelism.[2] Some outside observers and former members describe the group as cult-like, excessively controlling, spiritually damaging, or abusive.[3][4][5]


UBF began as a student movement in 1961.[6] It was founded through a partnership between Lee, a Korean Presbyterian Pastor and Barry, an American Presbyterian missionary.[7]

In 1964, UBF began expanding through missionary work, such as sending a graduate as a missionary to pioneer Cheju University in Cheju Island. They also sent workers to Taejun, Taegu, Chunju and in 1966, established a headquarters in Seoul. In the 1970s UBF along with other campus ministries such as the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ, Navigators and Youth With a Mission, began concentrating on evangelization of people-groups and nations as well as individual students.[8] From 1970 to 1991, UBF established chapters in 8 African Countries, 18 European Countries, 3 South American Countries, 11 Asian countries, 2 countries of Oceania, 3 North American countries. In 1975, the organization became incorporated in the state of Mississippi.[9] Soon after the incorporation, the organization's international headquarters was relocated from Seoul to Chicago.

Beliefs and characteristics[edit]

The UBF organization is as an international, evangelical student organization, which also hosts church services. The doctrines and statement of faith are conservative evangelical in nature.[10] It is regarded as a lay self-supporting missionary model by some in the Korean church community.[11]


Some outside observers and former members have described the groups practices as controversial.[3]

In Canada and the United States, some universities have restricted UBF's on-campus recruiting efforts, such as University of Winnipeg (1989),[12][13] University of Manitoba (1991),[14][15][16] and University of Illinois (1993)[17] UBF is used as one of the case studies in the book Churches That Abuse, published in 1991 by Ronald Enroth about Christian churches and organizations he perceives as "spiritually abusive" and the effects these groups can have on their members.[18] Counter-cult researcher, Ruth Tucker, failed to endorse Enroth's book as she felt that his research tactics were flawed due to unfair allegations resulting from one-sided testimonials. She also argued that Enroth and other counter-cult investigators based their research around unhappy ex members and made no attempt to counterbalance allegations by studying the organization for themselves.[19]

In 2003 Wheaton College hosted a conference organized by University Bible Fellowship, prompting a local newspaper to look into allegations of the group being spiritually abusive and overly authoritarian.[20] In 2016, concerns of cult-like activities were raised in British Columbia, Canada on the campus of the University of Victoria, but the university could not verify the allegation.[21]

As of 2016, UBF continues to be on the lists of several cult-watching groups in the United States, such as the Apologetics Index,[22] the New England Institute of Religious Research,[23] and the Freedom of Mind website.[24]


According to the publicly reported numbers by the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA), the UBF organization received $2,125,210 USD in cash donations (offering) in 2015.[25]


  1. ^ Barger, TK (27 August 2016). "UT Staff, Students Focus of Religious Gathering". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  2. ^ Origin, Mission Statement
  3. ^ a b New England Institute of Religious Research
  4. ^ Apologetics Resource Center
  5. ^ Freedom of Mind
  6. ^ Jun Ki Chung, "The University Bible Fellowship: A Forty-Year Retrospective Evaluation", Missiology: An International Review Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine, Vol. XXXI, No.4, October 2003, pp. 474-85
  7. ^ Rumage, Jeff (24 April 2012). "Where One Church Fades, Another Branches Out". Whitefish Bay Patch. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  8. ^ "The Lausanne Movement A Range of Perspectives" (PDF). Regnum Books International. p. 196. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  9. ^ UBF incorporation
  10. ^ "Statement of Faith".
  11. ^ University Bible Fellowship Fosters Faith and Intellect Leaders, October 31, 2013, The Kukmin Daily, retrieved December 31, 2016.
  12. ^ Winnipeg Free Press, Vol. 114., No. 322, page 1, Oct. 25 1986
  13. ^ Wendy Stephenson, "Cult personality draws people to Fellowship: Ex-Cult Member Still Feels Fear", The Winnipeg Sun, Vol. 10, No.90, Tuesday, April 17, 1990, page 5
  14. ^ Greg Reage, "Shepherds no band of simple country folk", The Manitoban, VOL. LXXVIII No.9, PAGE 5, October 3, 1990
  15. ^ Hayward, Paul (1990-09-05). "They Can Turn Your Mind Upside Down, Vol. LXXVIII, No.5". The Manitoban. Winnipeg, Canada: Manitoban Newspaper Publications Corporation. pp. 12–13. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  16. ^ The Silhouette (the student newspaper of McMaster University), February 7, 1991 (Vol. 61, No.22) Page 11
  17. ^ Daniel Buckman, "UIC worries about cult recruitment; three cases this fall", UIC News, 12/1/93
  18. ^ Ronald Enroth, Churches That Abuse, Zondervan, 1992
  19. ^ Tucker, Ruth (1994). "JPUSA Is Family". 22 (102). Cornerstone Magazine. Archived from the original on February 10, 2005.
  20. ^ Carmen Greco, Jr., "Cult Worries Surround Bible Group", Daily Herald (Chicago), 21 July 2003
  21. ^ O'Brien, Cormac (9 June 2016). "Student Club Connected to an Organization Accused of Cult-like Activities". The Martlet. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  22. ^ "University Bible Fellowship". Apologetics Index. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  23. ^ "Short List of "Cults", Aberrational Christian, and Other Controversial Groups". NEIRR. October 8, 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  24. ^ "Group Information". Freedom of Mind. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  25. ^ Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability

29. “Cult fishing on campusToban Mon Nov 27, 1987 p 4.

External links[edit]