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Strengthening Antiracism Work in Canada

September 21, 2022
Pablo Sun Kim
Pablo Kim Sun

Pablo Kim Sun is working to build up a more robust, Canada-focused approach to antiracism work in Canada.

Kim Sun was hired as the senior leader for antiracism and intercultural conciliation, a role created earlier this year by the CRCNA’s Canadian board as part of a commitment to justice and reconciliation as key elements of ministry within the Canadian context.

Kim Sun explained that the role is partly new and partly a continuation of work done by former Race Relations staff in Canada, such as Bernadette Arthur and Steve Kabetu.

“[Bernadette and Steve] were part-time and focused on mobilizing people in the congregations. They primarily went out to local churches to offer workshops, training, and awareness,” said Kim Sun.

This work was meaningful but wasn’t enough to make lasting change across the denomination, he said. “After seeing the need for a more robust approach, a decision was made to create a more full-time and senior leadership role for this work in Canada,” he explained.

Canadian senior leaders drafted a proposal for this new position, and it was approved by the CRCNA Canadian board. To ensure that the work would accomplish the goals for which it was created, the proposal also outlined a framework and specific tasks to promote success.

“Gleaning on the experiences of my predecessors, it was decided that this work needs to be Canada-focused, and it was recognized that this can be lonely work,” said Kim Sun. To provide support, Kim Sun was asked to create a national advisory committee to help share the burden, provide accountability, and create a safe space to share the struggles and joys of the work.

Kim Sun was also asked to start by addressing changes within the CRCNA and its ministries.

“Whereas my predecessors were focused outward on local churches and classes, this new role is asked to focus for at least three to five years on bringing internal changes. Once those changes are done, I will begin to work toward outward engagement and changes. That is when I will go to classis meetings, local churches, pastors, lay leaders, and deacons,” said Kim Sun. “I will start in the center and go outward.”

While volunteers have been named for the national committee, their work is still in its formative stage, explained Kim Sun. They are articulating their mandate, creating a vision and mission, and preparing for the work ahead. He will do some events and training directly with classes and churches, but for now the main focus is on CRCNA staff and leadership.

In some ways, Kim Sun’s work is similar to that being done by Race Relations in the U.S. office of the CRCNA. He will collaborate with U.S. staff on some training, webinars, and resources, taking into account the different contexts in the two countries.

Kim Sun noted that his role is something of a Canadian counterpart to the work of both Race Relations and Diversity in the United States. Kim Sun reports to the CRCNA’s executive director - Canada.

Kim Sun brings diverse experience to the role. He describes himself as a citizen of Paraguay – where he grew up and completed undergraduate studies – who is ethnically Korean. He went on to earn an M.Div. and an M.A. in intercultural studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, and he successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis this year at the University of Toronto.

Raised Korean Presbyterian, he eventually found himself looking for a new church home and was ordained three years ago as a Mennonite pastor. He said he was drawn to a role with the CRCNA because he admires the denomination’s commitment to antiracism and intercultural ministries.

In his work with CRCNA staff and leadership, and eventually with classes and churches, Kim Sun said he hopes to build on the good foundation of his predecessors but notes there is still a long way to go in antiracism work.

“I hope that working from the center will produce more authentic and deeper changes,” he said.

He compared antiracism work to yeast in the baking of bread; it begins small but makes a measurable difference in the resulting bread. “It’s like the Holy Spirit’s work,” he said.