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Getting Korean and English Leaders Together

May 22, 2024

When Korean pastors of Christian Reformed churches gathered in Chicago, Ill., for the recent Korean Ministers’ Association conference, they focused not only on Korean issues. As full members of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, it was important to organizers that the conference also include content beyond what Korean-speaking churches were doing so that participants could learn about the denomination more broadly. Thanks to the efforts of several guests, participants were able to do just that. 

Zachary King, general secretary of the CRCNA; Kevin DeRaaf, Resonate Global Mission director; Susan LaClear, director of Candidacy; Lesli van Milligen, codirector of Thrive; Gregory Elzinga, interim president at Calvin University; and Calvin Theological Seminary president Jul Medenblick were all grateful for the opportunity to attend and speak about the ministry happening across the denomination.

“The Office of General Secretary coordinates with the congregations, classes, synod, agencies, and institutions to implement the Ministry Plan of the CRCNA,” explained King during his talk. “We also support the ecclesiastical governance of the CRCNA, including assisting with Church Order, synodical procedures, and implementing the decisions of synod, the Council of Delegates, and other synodical committees.” 

When van Milligen spoke to participants, she took the time to introduce the newest CRCNA agency: Thrive. Formed in 2023 by the consolidation of nine former ministries that had specific areas of focus such as worship, disability, abuse prevention, race relations, and faith formation, Thrive exists to encourage and equip churches in a single, collaborative way.

Van Milligen asked attendees to “tell [Thrive] what your church is struggling with right now” so that Thrive staff can hear about needs and provide support.

Pastor Eun Beom Kim from Love Global Vision Church in New Jersey said he found it valuable to have this time to “share the needs of the church and the needs of the denomination.” 

And pastor Eui Heum Baik from Elim Church in Philadelphia, Pa., said that “learning specifically about the ministries of the denomination” was very beneficial. 

Denominational staff also appreciated the experience. DeRaff said he was impressed by the deep commitment to missions that was evident in the conversations with the Korean leaders who attended the gathering.

“Korean churches care deeply about global mission, but they often support that mission directly through the local church,” he added. “I was very encouraged by the conversations I had about engaging with Resonate to form new partnerships in the support of God's mission around the world. Their passion for prayer and their love for God's mission make our Korean sisters and brothers a vital part of the CRCNA.”

Medenblik said he was grateful for the long-time personal and institutional connections between Korean pastors and Calvin Theological seminary 

“I saw colleagues from our days as students at CTS as well as students who recently graduated from CTS,” he said, adding that the president of the Korean Ministers’ Association, Rev. Mulchul Kim attended CTS with him. “The Korean church and pastors place a high value on theological education and I am grateful for their support, encouragement, and prayers for myself and for Calvin Theological Seminary.” 

King said he was grateful to be asked by several participants, “How can the Korean churches contribute to our denomination?” 

In response to this question, King said, “God has called our Korean brothers and sisters to lead, support, and guide the CRCNA at a time such as this. Please consider connecting more closely with our denominational ministries through giving ministry shares, participating in governance (especially through classis and synod), connecting to our agencies and educational institutions (for support in mission, ministry, and education), and praying for our CRCNA ministries.”