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Home Assignment

Since the end of February I have been in Canada on my home assignment. Coronavirus has made it much different than planned! Since I am unable to visit congregations, I have managed to put together a 10-minute video presentation on my work. You can find it here:

Watch for more details about the United Church's involvement in the global prayer campaign for peace on the Korean Peninsula, which is scheduled for Thursday, June 25, 2020 8 pm ET:


Monday Night Group

Every month I meet with a group of mission co-workers here in Korea. We offer support to each other and share perspectives and thoughts about what it means to be doing mission as a partner here in Korea.

I’m always a little bit surprised at how critical the group can be of Korean society at times – I think this reflects just how committed they are to Korea. As outsiders we see some of the contradictions that give us frustration and yet love Korea anyway!

We usually meet on a Tuesday night, but the group continues to call itself the “Monday Night Group” because the group used to meet on Monday nights back in the difficult days of the military dictatorship in South Korea, and the name has continued in memory of that struggle.

The membership in the group is somewhat fluid, because people are always coming and going. Right now the group has active participation from folks from USA, Philippines, China, India, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and Canada, working for a variety of different agencies and…

Looking back 2019

What exactly do you do over there in Korea?—is a question that people keep asking me. Little do they know how complicated the answer to this question is! My primary work (when I’m not in class) is to assist with English language communications in the Department of Partnership and Ecumenical Relations in the General Assembly Office of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (that is, PROK).

Our work in the department involves connecting the church in Korea with the church all over the world, and the main language that we use to do this is English. As important as helping with this work is, it is not actually the heart of what I do. At the heart of what I do are all the relationships that I am a part of here in Korea and elsewhere as I make connections with folks at multiple levels of Korean society. In one situation this means one thing, in other situations it means other things, so I am constantly finding myself doing new things, playing new roles, and meeting new people (as w…

language learning in Korea

A big part of my work here in Korea has been to learn the language. I’ve been studying at the Korean Language Institute at Yonsei University for several months now, and as the fall term draws to a close, I’m realizing how far I have come. Words that used to be strange and impossible to pronounce are now rolling off my tongue! (sometimes even in comprehensible sentences)
Part of what makes language learning possible is the fun that comes with it. For 한글날 (Korean Alphabet Day), for example, instead of our regular class, there was a special program in which the various classes produced a poster to celebrate the Korean alphabet. Here is my class, hard at work: folks from France, Russia, Italy, South Africa, Spain, and even a couple of us from Canada.

I have to say that learning a language is a strangely passive activity. Although it does of course also require huge exertions of constant effort, this isn’t actually the learning of the language: it is the grunt work that you have to do in ord…

... Back in Korea ...

I returned to Korea at the end of August to join Hanshin Presbyterian Church in Seoul for their English-language summer camp program. I have been working with them one Sunday a month over the past year and this was a great opportunity to get to know the participants a little better.

Their theme for the day was our responsibility for caring for the planet. As it says in Genesis, God saw the creation, and saw that it is very good. This gives us the responsibility to care for the earth and all life on it. The children of the congregation embraced this theme enthusiastically, sharing their ideas about what they can do to make a difference. Here are a few scenes from the event.

Here in Korea, like everywhere else on the planet, we are experiencing the effects of climate change. Yet here, as elsewhere, the issue is so huge that it is hard to take the threat seriously. Everything in our thinking needs to change. Amazingly, across the globe, children are the ones leading the way–they seem to be…