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‘Great New Beginning’ for Korean Leaders

August 30, 2023
Korean ministry leaders met via Zoom in June.
Korean ministry leaders met via Zoom in June.

June marked a new beginning for Korean pastors and congregations of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. While they have always been full, participating members of CRCNA classes (regional groups) and of the synod (annual assembly), Korean congregations have also had their own leadership body, which pulls them together for fellowship, accountability, training, and decision making. When this body, known as the Korean Council, met in Las Vegas, Nev., in April 2023, they appointed a new president, Rev. Daniel Kim, and a new steering committee of 19 members.

That steering committee met for the first time on June 22, 2023, via Zoom, and instead of calling themselves the “Korean Council Steering Committee,” they referred to their meeting as the “Great New Beginning.”

Kim explained how this committee represented a change from the former officer-based Korean Council leadership. "Until now, the five officers of the Korean Council have done their best, within their given circumstances, to plan a Korean Council meeting each year. Thanks to them, we have been able to share good fellowship at the gathering every year,” he said. “However, as the Korean Christian Reformed community is expanding and changing, we need a gathering that can encompass various Korean American pastors. I thought that a committee made up of only the officers was too limited.”

Kim wanted to overcome these limitations by pulling together a group that included not only first-generation Korean immigrants who are senior pastors in the churches, but also regional leaders, church pastors, and leaders who represent 1.5- and second-generation immigrants.

“I was invited to come to the meeting by Rev. Daniel Munchul Kim,” explained Rev. James Lee. “For many years, as a second-generation Korean American, I felt like I did not belong at all with the Korean Council. But when I heard from the new leadership that there was a willingness to adapt to the present reality of what is happening in the Christian Reformed Church, my heart was full of gratitude.”

Lee said that great diversity exists within the category of “Korean CRC,” and that that diversity needs to be recognized and responded to.

“We need to learn not to just say ‘Korean’ anymore and assume that everyone fits one camp,” he said. “We have Korean American, Korean Canadian, Korean Adoptee, first, second and third generation, and more. The spectrum is so vast and wide that the new leadership of the Korean Council, and their willingness to call this a ‘Great New Beginning,’ is fitting.”

The “Great New Beginning” steering committee has been meeting monthly since June. Their main focus has been on changing the Korean Council's official name and on revising its structure and bylaws. In the first meeting, a lot of time was spent in listening to the different cultural and ministerial backgrounds of the committee members, and in discussing the purpose and direction of the council before moving forward with this work. A new name and the revised bylaws will be approved at a meeting in 2024.

“I think the Korean Council was like a midwife to the 120 Korean churches in the denomination, and it did a good job of getting the denomination to open a Korean ministry to connect with Korean churches. This is a contribution that will not be forgotten as long as there is history in the denomination,” said Rev. Edward Yoon, stated clerk of Classis Ko-Am and a member of a committee working on documenting the Korean Council's history.

Denominational staff have appreciated all who have served with the Korean Council in the past, and are committed to continue walking alongside them in the future, said Chris Choe, Korean Ministry leader with Resonate Global Mission. “We will not neglect to provide denominational support to the officers and steering committee. We will continue to work together to implement all the work of the ‘Great New Beginning,’ and we will strive for further denominational unity and growth.”

While the name “Great New Beginning” is just an interim title until a new name can be approved, Lee said that it encompasses their prayer for the group.

“My hope and prayer is that the walls that were once built up due to generational and cultural differences can come crashing down, and that this new Korean gathering can help forge indeed a ‘Great New Beginning,’” he said.