University Bible Fellowship

Last updated
University Bible Fellowship
Ubf logo text.jpg
Formation1961;60 years ago (1961)
FoundersSamuel Chang-Woo Lee
Sarah Barry
Founded at South Korea
Type 501(c) organization
Legal statusActive
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois

The University Bible Fellowship (UBF; Korean: 대학생성경읽기선교회) is an international evangelical non-denominational Christian entity that originated in South Korea in 1961. [1] 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. [2] The organization's stated goal is student evangelism. [3]



UBF began in South Korea as a student movement built around one-on-one teaching sessions for college students using the Bible and instilling the founders' version of Shepherding Movement teachings. [4] In 1964, UBF began expanding its campus presence through missionary work in South Korea. In 1966, the group established their headquarters in Seoul. In the 1970s, UBF began expanding to North America and is mentioned in the group of campus ministries who actively engaged in student recruitment to create Bible-based societies. [5] In 1975, the organization became incorporated as a non-profit organization in the United States, in the state of Mississippi. [6] Soon after the incorporation, the organization's international headquarters was relocated from Seoul to Chicago. They continued to establish chapters on college campuses in Africa, Europe, South America, Asia, Oceania, and North America. In 2020, Wheaton College (Illinois) partnered with the Chicago chapter of the group to provide a cross-cultural ministry certification. [7]


Reactions to the group’s recruitment efforts on college campuses have been a mixed bag. Some regard the group as a self-supporting missionary model. [8] Others have, at times, limited or banned the group from practicing their on-campus recruiting efforts, such as at University of Winnipeg (1989), [9] [10] University of Manitoba (1991), [11] [12] [13] and University of Illinois (1993) [14] [15] The group has been documented by various religious watchdog organizations, such as the New England Institute of Religious Research, [16] the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, [17] and the Evangelical Center for World Survey. [18] Some consider the group to be a hyper-evangelical Christian movement contributing to the restoration of Christianity in the United States and other countries. [19] Other observers and former members describe the group as cult-like, excessively controlling, spiritually damaging, or abusive. [20] [17] [16] [21]


In the United States, the group is registered as a non-profit organization and registered with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). According to the ECFA, the group reported $2,149,367 of total revenue and $2,073,393 of total expenses for 2019. The group had $13,907,906 in net assets as of the end of 2019. [22]

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  1. "Statement of Faith". University Bible Fellowship. Retrieved 2020-10-26.
  2. Barger, TK (27 August 2016). "UT Staff, Students Focus of Religious Gathering". Toledo Blade. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  3. Origin, Mission Statement
  4. 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
  5. "The Lausanne Movement A Range of Perspectives" (PDF). Regnum Books International. p. 196. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  6. UBF incorporation
  7. , January 21, 2021, Wheaton College School of Mission, Ministry and Leadership
  8. University Bible Fellowship Fosters Faith and Intellect Leaders, October 31, 2013, The Kukmin Daily, retrieved December 31, 2016.
  9. Winnipeg Free Press, Vol. 114., No. 322, page 1, Oct. 25 1986
  10. 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
  11. Greg Reage, "Shepherds no band of simple country folk", The Manitoban, VOL. LXXVIII No.9, PAGE 5, October 3, 1990
  12. 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.
  13. The Silhouette (the student newspaper of McMaster University), February 7, 1991 (Vol. 61, No.22) Page 11
  14. Daniel Buckman, "UIC worries about cult recruitment; three cases this fall", UIC News, 12/1/93
  15. "University Bible Fellowship". Apologetics Index. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  16. 1 2 "Short List of "Cults", Aberrational Christian, and Other Controversial Groups". NEIRR. October 8, 2008. Archived from the original on 24 Feb 2020. Retrieved 26 Oct 2020.
  17. 1 2 "Group information: University Bible Fellowship". Freedom of Mind Resource Center Inc. Archived from the original on 9 Aug 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  18. The Evangelical Center for World Survey Material Service August, 1991 University Bible Fellowship (UBF) Experience - Report from a Mother
  19. The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America 1st Edition, Oxford University Press, 2015, Rebecca Y. Kim, pg 14
  20. Apologetics Resource Center
  21. Ronald Enroth, Churches That Abuse , Zondervan, 1992
  22. Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability