Some 40 English-speaking pastors of the Coalition of Korean Churches, a gathering of Korean churches in the Presbyterian Church of America (also known as PCA-CKC) gathered for the PCA-CKC's fourth annual leadership forum for English ministry (EM) pastors, which took place at New Life Mission Church and Nachimban Church in Orange County, CA. Pastors from various regions throughout the country, including Southern California, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and Georgia, were in attendance. Simultaneously, some 150 Korean-speaking pastors also gathered for the PCA-CKC's 18th annual meeting at the same locations.
This year's EM leadership forum, themed, "Logic on Fire: Reformed Theology, Ministry, and Life," featured various sessions of forums, as well as times of fellowship through mealtimes, basketball, and other activities.
"We organized these annual forums because sometimes the presbytery doesn't feel like the network it's supposed to be," said Reverend Billy Park, the founder and senior pastor of Grace Community Presbyterian Church in Suwanee, GA. "We wanted to create a space where EM pastors could gather and build relationships with each other, and really create this network."
The forum sessions spanned across four days from April 27 to 30, and featured three main speakers: Rev. Dr. Joel Kim, who serves at New Life Mission Church in Fullerton, CA, and is an assistant professor of the New Testament at Westminster Seminary; Rev. Dr. Min Chung, the founder and senior pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church (CFC) in Champaign, IL; and Reverend Billy Park. In each session, each speaker spoke for about an hour, and a Q&A and time of prayer followed.
In accordance with the theme, the speakers spoke on practical issues that pastors face in their ministries and lives.
Reverend Joel Kim spoke on the first night on Acts, and particularly referred to the example of the Apostle Paul and his companions as an example of the need for co-laborers to effectively do the gospel work.
Reverend Min Chung spoke on the morning and night sessions of the second day of the forum. Speaking on the story of Samson from the book of Judges, he cautioned the ways that pastors may fall into sin, the effects and consequences of serious sins, and also reminded pastors of the mercy and grace that follows.
"Mercy will always triumph over judgment," Chung said, and encouraged pastors that even after mistakes failure, God can and will still use them for His kingdom.
Reverend Billy Park, the final speaker, spoke on 'Reformed Ecclesiology,' and said that when he was once asked, "What's the most pressing issue in the church?" he answered, "The lack of ecclesiology," a term that refers to the study of the church.
Specifically, Park focused on the structure of the church, and explained the reasoning behind the plurality of elders in the Presbyterian church.
"Jesus Christ is the head of the church, not any teacher or pastor," Park said. "The Word is the apostolic witness of God, and the church and elders are here to guard us from thinking that we are the head."
The EM pastors who were gathered also had the opportunity to share concerns and questions during Q&A sessions which took place after each main session, receiving advice from the older pastors in the forum. Some of the questions that arose involved their involvement in the PCA.
"I feel like a fish out of water in both a Korean presbytery and an Anglo presbytery," said one of the pastors, who asked a question regarding what kind of a future Korean American pastors in the PCA should be looking forward to.
Park, who works in the PCA as the Korean Relations Representative for the PCA Administrative Committee, said that, from his experience working in the denomination, the future for Asian American pastors in the denomination is bright.
"Many of the PCA leaders are looking for young pastors to take on leadership roles," said Park. "And many of those young pastors are Asian Americans. We're the largest minority group in the PCA. So if we start becoming more informed, start getting familiar with the ways of the denomination, I know that there will be a lot of opportunities in the future."
Park further encouraged pastors to take steps to become more involved in the denomination by attending the annual General Assemblies (GA) or watching the simulcast, and reading the Book of Church Order (BCO), which details the structure, organization, doctrines, and processes of the denomination.
To note, the Korean-speaking pastors sponsored the English-speaking pastors' registration and hotel fees, and up to half of the flight costs for the pastors who came to the conference from out of California. Some pastors, however, expressed that they would have appreciated more time to spend with the Korean-speaking pastors during the conference for more interaction and building of relationships between the Korean- and English-speaking leaders.