Some 250 Korean American young adults from various churches gathered at Community Church at Holliston, located in Pasadena, CA, early at 6 AM on Easter Sunday for the Easter Daybreak Service hosted by NexGen Pastors' Fellowship, a gathering network of Korean American pastors in Southern California. Some of the churches represented include Hillside LA, Berendo Street Baptist Church, New Life Vision Church, Community Church at Holliston, and Young Nak Celebration Church.
This year's service focused on the theme, "Rise," and is the second such service hosted by NexGen specifically. For many years, the Easter Daybreak Service was hosted by another gathering of relatively older Korean American pastors called the Korean American Pastors' Network (KAPN), until the task was eventually passed on to NexGen beginning in 2014. One of the largest Easter daybreak services had some 400 people in attendance.
"One of the aspects of these gatherings that is so special is that all of us are coming together from different denominations," said Pastor Sam Park, who leads Community Church at Holliston and who also preached at this year's service.
Park spoke on John 20:19-22, a passage in which, after Jesus had already resurrected, disciples were described to have gathered together at a home with the doors locked, "for fear of the Jews." Jesus appears to them and says, "Shalom," or, "Peace be with you," and then breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
"If the disciples had remained in that room, huddled in fear, and had never told others about the gospel, Jesus' resurrection would simply have remained an object of speculation and mystery," Park said, citing Enoch and Elijah as examples of people in Scripture whose deaths were not recorded (The Bible says Enoch "was no more," and that Elijah was taken up to heaven "in a whirlwind"), and thus, two people whom people think upon with wonder and curiosity; but unlike Jesus, they are never objects of worship.
Park posed that perhaps the picture of the disciples huddled in fear at that moment is an accurate picture of many of Jesus' disciples today. But in that moment of fear, Park said, Jesus exhorts his disciples to "receive the Holy Spirit."
"The empowerment of the Holy Spirit is for the purpose of bearing witness to Jesus and his resurrection," Park said. "Perhaps we have neglected what Jesus would have us do with the Holy Spirit. God blesses that we may be a blessing."
"Breathe in the Holy Spirit, and go and make disciples of all nations," he continued. "Breathe in the Holy Spirit, and testify to His resurrection. Breathe in the Holy Spirit, and rise."
Other speakers who were featured at the service include Pastor Michael Lee, the senior pastor of Young Nak Celebration Church, who led corporate prayer, and Pastor Kiwon Suh, the lead pastor of the English congregation at New Life Vision Church, who gave the benediction. Undignified Tour, a worship band stemming from the campus ministry Korea Campus Crusade for Christ, led worship. Those present were also able to spend time together in fellowship after the service over breakfast and coffee.
NexGen, which began in 2011, has been hosting several gatherings each year for Korean American pastors in Southern California. Some of the recent events it hosted include "Love the City," a panel in which Pastors Michael Lee and Rankin Wilbourne from Pacific Crossroads Church participated in a panel regarding loving the city of Los Angeles, and "Rites of Passage," during which first and second generation pastors were able to come together to take steps toward deeper understanding and reconciliation.