Did you know that the Presbytery of Los Ranchos is one-fifth Korean? (9 of 45 congregations)
Did you know that during any given week, more than 8 different languages are used in worship within our presbytery?
Did you know that at our February 25th Presbytery Gathering we will, for the first time, provide simultaneous translation of the business meeting into Korean?
What a gift this is for our presbytery, to be one body with many parts – parts speaking in many different tongues! We have so much to learn from one another about what it looks like to live out Jesus’ command to love one another.
But it is can also be a challenge – how do we provide hospitality to all of our congregations? How do we build relationships across language and cultural differences? How can we work together as we seek to become ‘a community of flourishing congregations that joyfully participate in God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ in the world?’
One way this is happening is this Saturday with the support of COM (Committee on Ministry) and the Stated Clerk, the Korean pastors have organized a training session for all Korean members of the presbytery. It will include Clerk of Session training, officer training, and help to provide more familiarity with the PCUSA. Presbytery Moderator Pat Niles will be participating, as well as two outside guests teaching in Korean.
“We are moving forward, one step at a time,” shared Mark Hong, newly appointed to the Synod. “We are making steps to be nearer to each other, and that is a good sign.”
Embracing this diversity as a gift can be a challenge for ‘both sides’ Hong admits. “For many of the Koreans, it is a language issue,” he continued. “But for existing English speaking presbytery members it is a language issue, but also an issue of cultural understanding.”
Presbytery Moderator Pat Niles suggests a simple start – “It starts with small steps,” she suggested. Steps like greeting one another at a presbytery gathering – going out of our way to greet one another. Hong echoed the suggestion. “We can throw out the challenge to everyone to say hello,” he shared. “I’m throwing that challenge to myself too – I often have to force myself to do that.”
It begins with hello. Or, if you prefer, 안녕하세요.
Photos by Erin Dunigan