Wednesday, January 5, 2011

“Transcending Barriers: Clergywomen Overcoming Through Faith and Persistence”

Happy New Year! As we move into 2011, Shepastor will continue to provide information regarding resources, words of encouragement, “food for thought,” ministry venues for consideration and interviews on a variety of subjects.

Today’s Shepastor highlights a marvelous example of triumph and breaking barriers among Korean-American clergy women. Their story provides a powerful example of how faith, persistence and unity can tear down walls and break barriers.

Excerpts from the article, “Korean Clergywomen Transcend Barriers,” by Susan Hogan are written below…

Shepastor Highlights Korean Clergywomen Transcending Barriers:

The Rev. Myungim Kim anticipates the day when a Korean clergywoman will become a United Methodist bishop. Until that time, she is doing her part to raise awareness about the "sacrifice and courage" these clergywomen demonstrate day-to-day in their ministries.

Many of their stories are chronicled in a new book, "The Holy Seed of Calling: Korean-American Clergywomen's Journey Toward Ordination."
Thirty clergywomen's stories are shared in the book. Its publication celebrates the 25th anniversary of the association, which began with a gathering of 30 women — including six ordained clergywomen. Today there are 130 Korean-American clergywomen in the denomination.

"One common thread you'll hear is the courage it took for these women to leave their home countries and come to America to preach the gospel," said Kim, president of the National Association of Korean-American United Methodist Clergywomen.

Voices of hope

The Rev. Seung-Eun Grace Lee was not aware that women could become pastors. Then one day as she walked outdoors, she heard "beautiful singing" and traced the music to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.

"I walked inside, and I saw a woman leading a service," the 57-year-old Lee said. "I had never seen such a thing. Usually, the pastor is a man. I spoke to the school, and they told me I could come study."
Before she had a chance, she was struck by a car and endured a long recuperation. Eventually, she graduated and today serves Community United Methodist Church in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.

"Every Korean clergywoman has an amazing story to tell about how God called them into ministry," she said. "I don't know all the stories. I can't wait to get the book and read about them."

Stories of Korean clergywomen are chronicled in a new book, “The Holy Seed of Calling: Korean-American Clergywomen's Journeys Toward Ordination.” Photo courtesy of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

Transcending cultural barriers

While the book focuses on the spiritual journeys of the clergywomen, in interviews they also discuss the cultural and gender obstacles they are still trying to cross.

"Koreans are used to a male-dominated culture. Many people prefer a male pastor," said the Rev. Michelle Mee-Hye Kim, an associate with the Korean United Methodist Church in McLean, Va. In the Korean United Methodist Church, clergywomen are usually only assigned as associate pastors, they said. When assigned to predominantly non-Korean congregations, they are typically given small congregations to lead, the women said. That limits their income and opportunities. But there are no limits, the women said, on God’s plans for their ministries.

To see the Korean Clergywomen’s group picture and to read more of their story, visit (copy the link below and paste into your browser)

Do you have a story or an article that provides inspiration and encouragement to those struggling to burst through barriers? Post a comment or drop me an email at

Until next Wednesday
In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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