How the Second Generation of Korean-American Presbyterians Are Bridging the Gap

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra | August 3, 2017

When Joel Kim’s father told his five children that they would be moving from South Korea to the United States, Kim thought hard. Then he had a question.

“Do they have milk in America?” the 9-year-old asked.

Assured by his father that they had both his favorite foods—milk and bananas— Kim had no further objections. In 1982, his family left Incheon—the city where he was born (and where General Douglas MacArthur’s daring landing launched the push to retake Seoul from the communists during the Korean War).

This May, Kim became the first Korean-American president of Westminster Seminary California (WSC). Five weeks later, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly (GA) elected ruling elder Alexander Jun as its first Korean-American moderator.

At the same time, the nine Korean-language presbyteries of the PCA held their annual assembly at the GA, resulting in a record number of Korean-language representatives to the larger meeting.

All seem to be steps the PCA and its Korean-language presbyteries—which contain 10 percent of the PCA’s congregations—are taking toward each other. After 35 years apart, will the Korean-language churches follow the path of the Dutch Reformed and assimilate into the predominately white denomination?

“That’s the…

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