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Korean Pastors Explore the CRCNA

July 27, 2022

The 2022 Korean Institute in Ministry (KIM) training program began with an orientation on June 30. It will be conducted online and in person over the next four months.

The KIM program is one of several “Article 8 procedures” that make it possible for ordained pastors from other denominations to transfer to the CRCNA (the rules for this are found in Article 8 of the CRC’s Church Order). KIM is specially designed to address the cultural and contextual characteristics of Korean immigrant pastors who want to join the denomination. Many of these pastors have received theological training in Korea and are connected to a congregation but do not have a history with the CRCNA.

This year, the KIM program has nine participants. Eight come from the United States (Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Florida, California, and Texas), and one is from British Columbia.

These pastors will learn specifics about the Reformed faith, including the Reformed confessions and Reformed hermeneutics, what a Reformed worldview is, the history of the CRCNA, and the organizational and ecclesiastical structure of the denomination. They will also visit the denomination's historical sites and tour the Grand Rapids, Mich., and Burlington, Ont., offices of the CRCNA. But the training will look a bit different this year.

When KIM first began in the early 2000s, it was held for ten or 14 consecutive days in Michigan – at Calvin Theological Seminary and at a conference center in Grand Haven. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the KIM program was canceled in 2020, and it adapted to an online format in 2021.

As a result, a record number of 23 pastors participated in KIM in 2021. Many pastors who had previously delayed their participation, because it was too difficult to travel or they could not leave the congregation they served, were able to complete the program and receive ordination in the CRCNA.

At the same time, pastors who had gone through KIM in the past pointed out that a completely online format robbed participants of some of the benefits of the in-person programs and tours. Being together at Calvin Theological Seminary, for example, had helped them grow as a community and to develop relationships with each other and denominational leaders. Several of those previous participants said that their engagement in the KIM program was like an inflection point in their lives.

To address this concern, the CRCNA’s Candidacy Committee and Korean Ministry team came up with a way to combine best practices for this year’s program.

Rev. Chris Choe, who began his role as Korean Ministry leader with Resonate Global Mission on June 27, explained the new KIM program this way: “Participants will engage in self-directed learning between July and October by viewing 14 video lectures and summarizing their thoughts in a brief report. They will also meet once a month via Zoom video conferencing to discuss what they have learned.”

Then in mid-October the group will gather in Grand Rapids for six days.

“This will give us time to fellowship with one another and grow in our understanding of the denomination by allowing us to visit with various leaders of the denomination and the Calvin Theological Seminary faculty,” Choe said.

The detailed schedule can be found on the KIM webpage.

"On behalf of the Candidacy Committee of the CRCNA, I want to express our thankfulness to God for calling Korean pastors into our denomination in increasing numbers," added the Candidacy director, Rev. Susan LaClear. "As the Director of Candidacy, my goal is to serve these pastors who feel called to enter the CRC by providing a clear, accessible process for them to affiliate, and also to help them establish the support, accountability and meaningful connection that will sustain them in ministry."