Balancing act at an international church
The Reverend John Hahn of the Onnuri English Ministry in Yongsan-gu says he suffers from PMS. He is talking, however, about “Pastor’s Monday Syndrome.” In the latest installment of his series on spiritual leadership, Reverend Hahn delivered a sermon yesterday to 1,600 congregants titled “Divine Therapy for Depression.” Making an example of his own tendency to feel burned out after a busy week of giving to his congregation, Reverend Hahn reminded everyone that they all had a finite supply of emotional, spiritual and physical energy, and offered advice on how to battle the pitfalls of depression.
Reverend Stuart Read, a part-time mission pastor at the same church, called Reverend Hahn’s sermons “always practical, applicable and down to earth.” Although Onnuri Church is not the largest Presbyterian congregation in Korea, its English ministry, with three separate venues, four full-time and seven part-time pastors, is the largest. Pastor Marc Choi attributes the English ministry’s size to the location of the main sanctuary in Seobinggo-dong, a very international area with close proximity to the Yongsan military base. A glance around the sanctuary, aided by panning video cameras that telecast the service onto three huge screens, reveals a young, diverse population of foreigners and overseas Koreans, as well as local residents looking for some English comprehension practice. Reverend Choi says that balancing the needs of foreigners and Koreans who want to learn English can be a challenge. Kate Dachyshyn, a Canadian member of the church, cited that balancing act as a source of discomfort among some of the foreign congregants. In the last year, the ministry added enough new members to move into the main sanctuary, losing some of its simplicity and intimacy in the process. Now, Ms. Dachyshyn said, the congregation is “more international than English.” But she added that the interesting blend of people is the thing she likes most about the group. See www.onnurienglish.or.kr for more information.
by Kirsten Jerch