Cindy ended the month of May by traveling to Orlando, FL, and this time she didn't have to travel alone! This update is a little shorter than previous ones, but be on the lookout for her next update from the Tri-Presbytery gathering of the Presbyteries in Oklahoma, which just ended.
This time my travels brought me to Orlando where the 48th Annual Assembly of the National Caucus of Korean Presbyterian Churches (NCKPC) was meeting. It also brought me my husband! Because of the length of this trip, we decided that having him join me for the last stop would be wonderful.
Tuesday (May 21) was the first full day of the Caucus gathering, starting with breakfast at 7:30 with the NCKPC Moderator David Won and Young Ghil Lee, pastor of the Korean Presbyterian Church of Boston and long-time colleague and friend. We discussed the shape of the day before they left for the leadership breakfast.
Another long-team colleague and friend, Patrice Hatley, is the Presbytery leader for Tampa Bay, and because she lives closer to Orlando, we made lunch plans. It was good to gather and catch up for over two hours, discussing life and travel, work and play. Friends on the journey are a gift from God!
The first formal event for the whole assembly was dinner. Eric and I were seated at the table with Moderator Won and his wife and the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK), Rev. Hyung Suk Rim and his wife. It was a lovely meal, and I started to meet other delegates and friends. After dinner, and the group photo, we moved to the room for introductions, the opening worship service, and the first business meeting. The program included a greeting from Dan Williams, the Executive Presbyter and Stated Clerk for Central Florida and introductions of the “Guests of Honor.”
The honor given to the office of Moderator, or in my case Co-Moderator, is significant. I’m in one of the hotel’s executive suites and was the first guest introduced, an honor indeed given who else was in the room. With the introduction, I brought a brief greeting on behalf of my sister Co-Moderator Vilmarie and the 223rd General Assembly. When the Moderator of PCK was introduced, he presented gifts to Moderator Won and myself as gestures of partnership and friendship.
The opening worship service was beautiful, including both English Ministry leaders and Korean Ministry leaders. This is the first NCKPC Assembly that has intentionally invited the English Ministry leaders to participate, resulting in a large group of younger ministers in the room. The theme for the assembly, “Remnants as Healers,” based on Joel 2:32 and Romans 11:4-5, was the focus of the sermon.
As part of the invitation to this event, I was invited to present a plenary address on Wednesday morning and deliver the benediction at the end of worship Tuesday evening. Something that I feel passionately about is honoring the culture and, when possible, the language of the people I am meeting with. Sometimes that means only learning how to say “thank you” and sometimes it allows for more. Knowing that the traditional benediction is fairly short in Korean, I asked for help in preparing to give it in that language. My main prayer was that giving the benediction in Korean would be received as a blessing, a sign of honor, and a gesture of respect. I believe that was indeed the result, as the resounding “amen” after the last word filled the hall. And my teacher, Mark Hong, gave me permission to thank him officially for his help! Another friend and colleague on the journey.
After worship, there was a break, and the picture taking began. I’m afraid I contributed to the delay of the business meeting as group after group came to the front to have pictures with the honored guests. In that whirlwind, I spoke with women pastors, pastors whose parents were among the first who received missionaries from the Presbyterian Church, and people from all over the country who are doing creative and innovative ministry. The joy of being together and of deepening the connection to the PC(USA), the “mother church,” was tangible.
After the Moderator called the meeting back to order, Eric and I left for the night. The business was being conducted in Korean, as is appropriate, so we took advantage of the opportunity to take a little walk and wind down. It was a wonderful evening, and I am deeply honored by the opportunity to be present in such a significant way.