Our newly elected presbytery moderator, Jason Ko, has been serving Community Presbyterian Church in La Mirada for just over six years, having moved to Southern California the year before. “I came to the church young, naive – but by the grace of God and a lot of good mentoring by the great heroes of our presbytery I learned and grew tremendously,” said Ko.
“I think what we need in our presbytery and in our churches is to adjust to a changing world – we need courage, humility, and a lot of thoughtful and loving ways of changing with it – and not just for change sake,” he continued. One place to begin is by asking a lot of great questions.
“I see this working in our congregation and it is part of my wish for our presbytery – that we don’t merely react to one another, but that we ask good questions which allow us to calibrate our preferences to God’s preferences,” shared Ko. We need to recognize that we are all gifted uniquely, and that we need every voice – even voices which seem to ‘disagree’ with one another, to complete the tapestry of the body of Christ into which we’ve been called.
“We need our progressive churches to do what they are doing, and our evangelical churches to do what they are doing, and to ask, how can we best do that, not on our own, but together?” It is his hope for not just our presbytery, but for the denomination as well.
It’s something he’s witnessed in his six years at Community. “We had a very divided church when I arrived,” he shared. But through mentoring from more seasoned members of the presbytery, combined with Ko’s youth which he said ‘helped put people’s guard down’ the church has found a new unity and with it, health. “We have, from the mouths of our members, a unity and a health that they had not seen in 20 years,” Ko shared. “They are excited, which fuels me to keep serving them boldly and humbly and with clarity.”
“I want to bring that to our presbytery.”
He admits he might not be the best ‘moderator’ – that his knowledge of Roberts Rules will have to increase. But what he has is a heart for the church and for the presbytery, a heart that is convinced that ‘“we have to stop being reactive to one another and to keep the main thing the main thing.”
He saw that play out in the life of the congregation he serves. “I tried to keep painting a picture of God’s church in La Mirada – that we aren’t saved by the grace of Christ to live comfortable and cozy upper middle class lives – it is a blessing, but it is not an end.” Once the church began to shift its focus outward the focus on fighting one another slowly began to shift as well.
“Once that momentum shifted, instead of fighting between various opinions of what they liked or didn’t like, the people began to feel God’s vision calling them forward,” said Ko.
“That is the call I feel to our denomination as well – can we keep painting the big picture, and then align ourselves together and work toward what God has called us to?”
Somehow, he said, we have to figure out a way to convince ourselves that we are not trying to ‘win.’ “There is no winning or losing here – we are trying to bear with one another for a bigger cause,” Ko shared. It is not about seeing each other as somewhere along the theological spectrum, but rather as those with whom we can share in ministry.
“I think we are not going to change each others minds on some things, but if we are able to work together for something greater, for God’s glory, what might that look like?”
What might that look like?