Summer is almost over, and I hope many had a chance to take a break from the routines of life ... September brings new beginnings
From Pastor Kyung Mo Koo
SunAe and I were so surprised by the hard work and dedication that the congregation was willing to invest for new pastors that many of them had yet to meet.
I greet the Lincoln Park family in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I thank God for giving SunAe and me the opportunity to serve God with Lincoln Park. First of all, I want to express my gratitude to some of you whom I met during the transition period. I thank the SPRC members for their warm welcome. You opened your hearts and embraced SunAe and me at our first interview. It was a heart-warming and encouraging meeting.
Dan Christopher, the Chair, kindly guided us in our first steps through a series of conversations, emails, and phone calls. Meeting Beverly Perella, the Music Director, was another inspirational experience. She explained in detail the Worship and Music Ministry, followed by a touching piece on the organ. It was a refreshing and rejuvenating moment for my soul. Under the leadership of the Trustee’s Chair, Todd Beamesderfer, more than 20 volunteers came to the parsonage and did an Extreme Home Makeover. SunAe and I were so surprised by the hard work and dedication that the congregation was willing to invest for new pastors that many of them had yet to meet.
We truly felt loved by Lincoln Park. Thank you for your warm welcome and hospitality. I already feel at home with old friends.
Lincoln Park has many strengths for mission and ministry. Now we are adding one more characteristic: we have become a cross-cultural/racial congregation. Not only do we have some congregants from different cultures, but we now have a Korean pastor! This is a new experience for Lincoln Park, and there will certainly be some concerns and challenges along the way, but I believe it will be a unique and blessed journey of faith for us all.
I want to share what cross-cultural/racial ministry means and also tell you more about my cultural and religious background.
Ever since the Korean Methodist Church came into being (as a direct result of The United Methodist mission work 132 years ago) it has become the fastest growing Christian country in the world. According to the 2005 South Korean Census, Christians accounted for 25% of the population. Now, Korea has become the second largest Methodist community in the world. According to Christianity Today (March 2006), South Korean Churches have sent almost 13,000 long-term missionaries all over the world, which means that they are ranked second after the US.
After the U.S. immigration policy change in 1965, which was favorable to immigration from Asian countries, a steady flow of Korean immigrants began to arrive in America every year. This brought about phenomenal growth and development of Korean ethnic churches in the U.S. There is a Korean joke, “When the Chinese immigrate to a country, they open a restaurant; when the Japanese immigrate to a country, they establish a company; when Koreans immigrate to a country, they build a church.” Currently, there are about 600 Korean UMCs in U.S. and about 150 Korean pastors, like me, who serve in cross-cultural/racial ministry in The United Methodist Church. As a result, in The United Methodist Church, Koreans are the second largest ethnic minority group, right after the African-American church.
The Church’s affirmation of diversity is grounded in the biblical witness; that God uses people to witness across racial, national, and cultural boundaries. The experience of cross-cultural/racial ministry testifies to the Gospel and God’s mission, which are not locked within any one culture or nation.
I come from a different culture, and have various, unique experiences to share with and witness to you. The presence of a Korean pastor can be viewed as both a destabilizing force and a source of creativity. However, I strongly believe that our cultural and racial differences will enrich our understanding of the Bible and expand our perspectives of the global nature of Good News of the Gospel.
Under the context of our cross-cultural/racial ministry in Lincoln Park, we will learn, be challenged, develop, and help each other mature through a unique fellowship and spirituality in Christ.