“Families that eat together stay together” – San Ramon Grace UMC and Berkeley Korean UMC recently joined in fellowship
By Peter Hyun Ho Park, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, San Ramon.
Although a Korean United Methodist Church said farewell to their children and youth ministry director last June, they have now gained new families and friends in another district as a result of his new appointment. Pastor Peter Hyun Ho Park, a newly appointed local pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in San Ramon, had been the Director of Children’s and Youth Ministry at Berkeley Korean UMC in Oakland for the last five years. What began as a casual conversation between Pastor Park and Rev. Hyok-In Kwon, Senior Pastor of Berkeley Korean UMC, during the last Annual Conference turned into a “Fellowship of Grace” event in which nearly 50 members of Grace UMC and Berkeley Korean UMC gathered and shared Korean food together.
“Is there anything Berkeley Korean UMC can do for your new church? We want to be a sister church for Grace UMC, if possible,” Rev. Kwon asked Pastor Park last June. “How about serving Korean food to my new congregation?” Pastor Park answered. This unusual idea came to fruition when Berkeley Korean UMC decided to help out their former staff who is now serving in San Ramon. The members of Grace UMC were excited when they heard that Berkeley Korean UMC was willing to come and serve Korean food to them. They invited their friends and family members and contacted former members of Grace as well.
The “Fellowship of Grace” was held on Saturday, 12 pm, August 18, at Grace UMC in San Ramon. Grace’s sanctuary was turned into a ballroom, and many people began filling the empty seats. The smell of kimchi did not bother the participants. Rather, it enhanced the excitement. As soon as people had taken their seats, the blind date began. The members of the two churches began introducing themselves to each other, not only at the tables but also on the screen. Carol Lucey, administrative chair of Grace, introduced Grace from its past to its present by recapitulating its history and reminding those present of its memories. Rev. Kwon, in response, introduced Berkeley Korean UMC to Grace UMC and talked about how a small, aging local church had turned into a young, vital, and thriving church. Grace UMC presented a stole made by congregants to Rev. Kwon and to Berkeley Korean UMC as a token of the church’s appreciation.
The event ended with a statement of hope that the fellowship between two churches would continue. “I hope this event becomes the beginning of long-lasting fellowship between a local Korean immigrant church and a predominantly white church. There will be surely a lot to share that will benefit both churches,” Rev. Kwon said. Members of the two churches left the event praising God and looking forward to what God would do through this new fellowship.