A new book, Here I Am: Faith Stories of Korean American Clergywomen (Philadelphia: Judson Press) is released today, October 20, 2015.
This is a special book as it was written in part to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Korean American Presbyterian Clergywoman (2015). Therefore, help us celebrate our anniversary and share the news of our book book.
This project is a unique compilation of theological reflections and stories of faith from Korean American women in various forms of ministry in the church. The main goal is to share their stories to provide a window of understanding into the trials of Korean American women in ministry—a window that may serve as a mirror for other women who know what it is to be marginalized, overlooked, or prejudged based on their gender, ethnicity, culture, or appearance. The book’s uniqueness is found in its various genres of writing—from sermons and theological reflections, to poetry and stories of personal journey—from women of various generations. Readers will be encouraged, inspired, and affirmation for other Asian American women called to Christian ministry. Their stories and voices add clarity, wisdom, and hope, enriching the overall landscape of writings in this field.
- A rare view inside the lives of Korean American female clergy as they experience the challenges and triumphs of ministry and life
- A collection of reflections from Korean American clergywoman, including sermons which are prophetic, visionary, and biblical
- Distinct voices that offer understanding of the wider immigrant and American churches
All of these stories are compelling, thoughtful, and rigorous self-reflection that goes beyond the personal story to describe the way ministry is forged in the crucible of a “hybrid” life, a both-and existence in cultures where differences often lead to being demeaned or devalued. These leaders write of tenacious and examined faith rooted in difference, struggle, joy, and call. The accompanying sermons are solid examples of how stories can move proclamation toward Good News and help others reflect on their own stories as sites of God’s grace. This book is a must-read in every context and across all the lines that divide us. I can hardly wait to use in it a course. –Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Homiletics & Hebrew Bible, Methodist Theological School in Ohio and Founding President of WomanPreach! Inc.
“Here I Am is an engaging and inspiring read that brings together a diverse group of Korean American clergywomen to share stories, explore theology, and preach sermons. Each chapter reveals the unique challenges and joys experienced by these women. While educating those of us who are not women, clergy, or Korean American, the book also offers deep truths that can empower all of us on our journeys. Given the increasing diversity in the United States, this is a must-read for seminarians, pastors, and church leaders.” —Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Executive Director of Community Renewal Society (Chicago), Author of Coming Together in the 21st Century: The Bible’s Message in an Age of Diversity(Judson)
Table of Contents:
Foreword: Neal Presa
“History of Korean American Presbyterian Clergywomen (KAPCW)” Unzu LeeThis chapter gives a wonderful history and overview of the Korean American Presbyterian Clergywomen’s group. The names of the original 7 women who began the group are listed as well as the names of important people along the way. The annual conferences are described as well as the location and dates. It is an excellent summary of the development of this important group of clergywomen.
“Home Sweet Diaspora Home” Aram Bae
The Korean American church has become a “second home” to many who feel displaced, marginalized and subordinated in a new adopted land. The church has become a place for socializing, making connections, sharing Korean food, culture, history and ideas. The church has also become a place to share Korean identity with the next generation of Korean Americans. The role of the Korean American church is indeed a multifaceted one and often described as a home away from home. However, in the midst of positive attributes of the Korean American church, the church also has its problems as it is heavily entrenched with Confucianism that has had negative affects on women.
“Do you Speak English? Racial Discrimination and Being the Other”Grace Ji-Sun Kim
Foreigners have traditionally been viewed with suspicion and as a source for many problems. If we look at the foreign women within the book of Ezra (Ezra 10), they were told to leave their families. They were thrown away from the community. They were outcasts and were not welcomed into the community. Since I am viewed as a foreigner, I often feel a similar tension and discrimination from those in my circles.
I am often asked, “Do you speak English?” I wonder how many times I will be asked the question. And my heart aches when I consider how many times my children will hear the question. To move forward, we must ask ourselves how our churches and American society can work together to attend to the fact that bodies marked by “foreignness” are hurting. This must begin with a critical re-evaluation of how systems of power and privilege mark certain people in small, but persistent ways. Only by attending to the daily existence of being marked as “foreign” or “other” can we provide firm ground for our larger goals of ending systematic racism.
“Go Somewhere” Christine Hong
This is a personal reflection of a young Korean American woman’s journey towards ordination. It includes her painful confrontation and experience of sexism within the Korean American church. Chris Hong faced strong sexism as she prepared herself for ordained ministry within the Korean American church. Through this difficult path, she prevailed and found love, peace and victory.
“The Transformative Power of Eucharist” Yena Hwang
Yena Hwang shares a personal experience of the transformative power of Eucharist in her essay. Eucharist is shared in many different ways in different churches around the globe. As one of two sacraments within the protestant church, Hwang reflects on her personal journey of sharing communion and how it has provoked new ways of being and understanding the body of Christ.
Korean American Theology
“Urgent Need of Ethic of Resistance in Korea” Nayoung Ha
In this chapter, Nayoung insists on the urgent need of an Ethic of Resistance against the dominant Christ, which operates as an ideology of socio-politics serving the status-quo in South Korea. By examining the issues around the legislation of the Anti-Discrimination Act, she argues that kids and members of multi-cultural families, LGBTQI people and people who operate on the politically radical left are the outcasts who are exposed to open discrimination and violence in their everyday life in Korea. She urges that the dominant Christ within Korean Christianity, which must be resisted by Korean Christians in order to be in solidarity with the outcasts in Korea, is white racist, homophobic, and a politically religious right Christ.
“The Passage Towards Parenthood as Vocational Practice” Mihee Kim-Kort
The work involved in having and raising a family goes without saying – anyone and everyone who has any experience with children understands the necessity for sacrifice and faithfulness in caring for children. If one adds the dimension of full-time and ordained ministry, children are not automatically the most natural dovetail for a Korean American woman who has to be a public figure, lead and administer programs in a church, and proclaim God’s word. Even more, providing the primary care for children can often seem like a barrier or obstacle to ministry. How can one care for two different families? But, it can be a way to shape one’s ministry, identity, and passions. This chapter looks at how important it is to intentionally and deliberately work through the logistics of caring for a family with a partner (if one is available), create boundaries that are physical, spiritual, and emotional in healthy differentiation, as well as surrender to the possibilities of how God continues to cultivate us as clergy through our families.
“Theme: Woman in Purple – Ministry in Purple” Jean Kim
Korean American clergy are engaged in many different forms of ministry. Jean Kim has devoted much of her adult life to a ministry to the homeless. This chapter chronicles her difficult immigrant life plagued by misfortunes, death of family members, racism etcs., which eventually led to her own call to ordained ministry. Her journey to minister to the homeless is an insightful and informative way of understanding the call of Jesus to serve the least of them.
“Miracle Baby” Mickie Choi
Mickie Choi was born in Seoul, Korea in a family of educators, 5 days after the Korean War broke out. She immigrated to the United States after she graduated from a college which was founded by the first Protestant Missionary sent by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) with Chemistry major. Her American dream was to become a successful “Madam Curie” with advanced graduate degrees, and contribute her scientific knowledge and skills to the world to the people. God later called her into the ordained ministry, and she became the first clergy woman ordained by the first Korean language Presbytery of the PCUSA in 1992.
From the first day of her birth, her life could have been summarized as “a work of Miracle of God” in one word. It is rather contradictory for the author since she has been struggling with the word and concept of “Miracle” as a scientist who could hardly believe the presence of “God” or the reality of “Miracle” as truths unless there are substantial evidences that can visibly prove the facts.
However, through the supernatural manifestations and intervention of the Holy Spirit, and the intellectual wrestling within herself, she now boldly claims that she is truly “a Miracle Baby.” Furthermore, her life and ministry can only be sustained by the grace and power of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Korean American Sermons
“Standing Tall” Irene Pak
This chapter is a theological reflection on the story of the bent over woman in the gospel of Luke and my own personal story of healing and learning how to stand tall in the midst of sexism and racism. It connects this biblical story of unbinding and freedom to my own–and how all that can be found through the healing touch of Christ.
“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” Joann Lee
Advent is my favorite season in the church calendar. I shared this sermon with my congregation during the 2013 Advent Season. I was eight months pregnant with our first son and both excited and terrified. While my pregnancy connected me to this “season of waiting” in a new and profound way, I knew we all needed Advent no matter who we are or how we connected with this season.
“Discerning Kairos” Yena Hwang
“Discerning Kairos” was preached as Hwang closed out her moderating year in the Presbytery of National Capital. She shares the importance of discerning God’s time as churches are challenged with many changes and encouraged presbyters to be filled with hope.
“words, words, words….and the Word” Yena Hwang
This is a poetic prose sermon, preached at the Presbytery of National Capital meeting where the ordination equality debate was on the docket. The sermon was to encourage spirit-filled discussions, rather than mean spirited debates on an important issue of justice and equality.
Epilogue: Laura Mariko Cheifetz
A big thank you to all the writers who made this book possible. Also to those who helped fund this book through Pubslush, we are very grateful.
Grace Ji-Sun Kim is an Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. She is the author of Embracing the Other; Here I Am; Christian Doctrines for Global Gender Justice co-edited with Jenny Daggers; Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style” co-written with Joseph Cheah;Reimagining with Christian Doctrines co-edited with Jenny Daggers;Contemplations from the Heart; Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit;The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other; and The Grace of Sophia. She is a co-editor with Dr. Joseph Cheah for the Palgrave Macmillan Book Series, “Asian Christianity in Diaspora”.