It’s been 36 years since the first Korean Language Presbytery was created under the auspices of Mission to North America (MNA). Though most of us weren’t in ministry then, we’ve seen a noticeable shift in the attitude toward and leadership of Korean Americans in our denomination. Indeed, through continued efforts to integrate our demographic into the broader institution of the PCA, the 46th General Assembly (GA) felt like “home” more than ever before.
Honoring the First Generation of Korean American PCA Pastors
We must first acknowledge that this path that was paved for us by our Korean American predecessors in the previous generation. The continued efforts to normalize Korean Americans into our denomination began with their courage and faithfulness to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers as they faced other hardships in just about every sphere of life. In addition to their exemplary prayer lives, their sacrificial service to local churches, presbyteries, and the GA sowed the seeds for a poor and few people to ultimately thrive in this small part of Christ’s family. As Joel Kim, PCA teaching elder and president of Westminster Seminary California, preached during the opening service of the Council of Korean Churches during the GA, “We remember your dedication, sacrifice, and prayers.”
A Growing PCA Presence
As of May 15, 2018:
9 of 87 presbyteries are Korean speaking
221 of the PCA’s 1,912 churches are Korean speaking
690 of the PCA’s 4,882 teaching elders are Korean
Korean American Leadership Initiative (KALI)
Alexander Jun’s service as moderator of the 45th Assembly and Lloyd Kim’s ongoing role as coordinator of Mission to the World doesn’t mean we’ve “made it.” Rather, their elections signify our coming of age — we’re just getting started.
This is why MNA’s latest ministry, launched during GA, to cultivate second-generation Korean American leaders, ministries, and churches is exciting and much needed. KALI, which is led by Jun, Owen Lee, and Mike Park, has a fivefold goal to develop second-generation Korean Americans in the areas of church planting, church revitalization, fellowship, mentorship, and ministry training. In partnership with Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., KALI leaders will even begin teaching seminary-level classes for Asian-American ministry contexts this winter, the first of its kind among conservative Presbyterian seminaries in the U.S.
The Future of Second-Generation Korean Americans in the PCA
The highlight of this year’s GA was no doubt the unanimous election of Irwyn Ince, the first black moderator of the PCA. As we celebrated with a standing ovation, many of us wept as we watched Alexander Jun, the first Asian-American moderator of the PCA, embrace Ince and hand him the gavel as he walked to the pulpit to deliver a powerful acceptance speech. Indeed, this historical occasion was a special moment of healing for the decades of tension between Korean American and African-American communities across our nation. Second-generation Korean Americans in the PCA are now privileged with respected leaders with great influence in our denomination. Even as we wait for complete reconciliation in the consummation of the kingdom, it’s now our turn to give back and empower other minorities as we continue to pursue racial reconciliation together.
The future looks bright for Korean Americans in the PCA. We hope more of our Korean American brothers can join us for next year’s GA.
Moses Y. Lee serves as the college pastor of the Redeemer Church of Arlington and is a member of the Korean Capital Presbytery (PCA).