My Ministry as the ‘Different’ and ‘Unique’ Ministry: A Reflection from Rev. AHyun Lee

by AHyun Lee

Last month’s blog explored how pursuing a call as an ordained Korean clergywoman meant to challenge and break dominant cultural and social expectations. Narratives of Korean clergywomen reflect the challenges of ministry, being racial and ethnic minority women, as they feel the push and pull of different identities, communities, cultures and commitments in their relationships. Simply, why do they choose to suffer in their life and in their ministry?

These narratives invite us to consider what their stories mean in their faith journey towards the transformation of community. Here are their narratives.

Fullness

Being a Samo and a Moksa is like Jew to the Jews, Greek to the Greeks. While I have and use the authority of a pastor, as a pastor’s wife I can visit their home, hold their hands, and talk about their personal stories, closely and easily.  So, it is good to go against the rules. Being a Samo as well as a Moksa means ‘fullness.’

I really like this woman’s saying, “It is good to go against rules.” Her different identities challenge the problematic expectations toward a pastor. Also, being a Moksa Samo makes emphatic interactions with people possible. It is fullness.

Maturation

To me, the process of ordination is like the way of maturing and transforming myself. When I came to the United States, I was fully dependent on my husband. However, I actually feel as if I have grown up by myself and am detached from my husband. So, the process of ordination is on the way of transforming myself or becoming mature before God.

This woman describes her life journey as the process of transformation and spiritual maturation. While she shares her painful fear of being rejected in her ministerial roles, she also reflects those same struggles became the foundation for her ministry and strengthened her social and relational skills.

Connection

I have taken a stance midway within all identities. Through taking and serving in various roles within diverse relationships, I can bring them together and make a connection with each. My role is to form a connection between ministries and lives.

For this woman, being a Moksa Samo allows her to serve within various roles in different relationships, while also embracing different expectations and connecting with various networks. Belonging to different communities becomes her strength to make a difference toward the transformation of community.

These women identified their ministry as a ‘different’ and ‘unique’ ministry. Racial-ethnic minority clergywomen challenge problematic cultures. For them, being a Moksa Samo leads them to be aware of the cultural expectations which influence their daily experiences and relations. Then, they seek agentive ways to negotiate with problematic cultures and create ‘different’ or ‘nontraditional’ narratives in their life and ministry.

I would like to end my blog with the following narrative. I asked a Korean clergywoman how she wants people to remember her. She beautifully illustrates her hope of being a Samo, a Moksa, a mother, and a grandmother.

I hope my grandchild remembers me as a good person

An intelligent person who was absolutely important in their community and a voice for good! It is my hope. In addition, that I became a person who had a heart full of love and gratitude for my children, my grandchildren and people. I would like to contribute to society, help other people, and improve the world while I am generous to my children. Not only do I take care of my children, but I also work to make the world better as a Christian, a Moksa, and a child of God. I will be happy that they remember me like that. If my grandchildren think about me this way, it will be best. I hope my grandchildren remember me as a good person.

With their narratives, Korean women’s agency and calling into the vocation of ministry is possible and liberating to all.  They keep navigating and embracing their different identities. Their narratives reveal structural and cultural oppression and pain, as well as engage the empathical participation with others in challenging the problematic cultures.

These women are co-authors, creating ‘unique’ and different’ transformative narratives. It is a healing process without giving up any identities; it makes room for the transformation of culture with the people and community possible. Their narratives empower a deep sense of relational love toward their life and their ministry. Their narratives are examples of the incarnational practices of embodiment for the transformation of the community.

This blog is my invitation for you to share and empower your own narrative toward deep empathy and visions of integrated multiple selves for the transformation of community as the incarnational practice of embodiment.

Rev. AHyun Lee is an ordained Elder serving the Mayville United Methodist Church in the Wisconsin Conference of The United Methodist Church. She is a graduate of Garrett Evangelical-Theological Seminary (Ph.D.) and Wesley Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Her research focuses on transnational and multicultural pastoral counseling in global and postcolonial contexts. AHyun is the Coordinator of the Asian and Asian American Ministry Center at Garrett-Evangelical. She is also a clinical fellow as the pastoral psychotherapist at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago. She has a strong passion for empowering women’s leadership and sharing women’s narratives for serving psychological and spiritual care for women in the church, conference, community and the world.

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