How did your journey with Living Stone Church start?
Esther Jibsanim: When the Korean United Church divided, the church that came out of the split was Living Stone Church. We followed our parents to Living Stone Church. As Living Stone Church evolved, we stayed here.
Were the two of you married at the time?
Esther Jibsanim: Of course. We already had Shinae and Dahae at the time. Jeeae was born after coming to Living Stone Church. She was the first baby born at Living Stone Church.
What was it like being at Living Stone?
Esther Jibsanim: It was a very small church, but it was much smaller when we were at Jarvis. We had a bilingual worship together with the ESM when Rev. In Kee Kim came. That was very impressive. Since we were always in KSM, we only had worship services in Korean, but beginning a joint worship with the EM was a really new experience. “Wow, we can coexist together.” I had a lot of thoughts like that back then.
What are your memories from the lively Bible studies at Living Stone?
Elder Choi: After worship on Sunday, about an hour or two later, we gathered at our house to study the Bible and sing praises.
Esther Jibsanim: We ate first.
Elder Choi: We had noodles and studied the Bible, every week felt like we were having a celebration. It was very fun! At that time, lots of people attended, about 40 people even when we had Bible Studies at people’s homes. After we amalgamated, it was very new and fun having Bible Studies with the new members. Even people from other churches, or people who don’t come to our church, would join our Bible Studies too.
How have you been shaped through Bible studies?
Esther Jibsanim: We’ve done Bible Studies on the same book multiple times. In the case of Romans, I think we studied that about five times. Same thing with the Gospel of Mark. But every time I do it, what I feel is different, and the message that comes to me is different, so even though we had the Bible Study on the same book with the same minister, the messages that came to me were different each time. So, I think God gave us the messages that we needed to hear each time. The truth is, I was not very familiar with Bible Studies until then. When we were at the Korean Central United Church, or even when I was attending church back in Korea, we didn’t study the Bible very much. I just listened to the sermons and lived by those words, but while studying the Bible, I experienced how the Bible and life are connected. It was a valuable opportunity to learn things I didn’t know much about. Bible Studies seem to be such an essential factor in our spiritual journeys at this church. Same for me and as a whole.
Elder Choi: I also started studying the Bible just before I turned forty. It was during the time when I had a strong sense of achievement and honor. I was trying to live out my life when I started attending Bible studies. So, maybe that was a good opportunity, and without knowing it, it permeated like this, and became blood and flesh. So, I think it can be said that the way I am today started like that. Before that, I hadn’t really thought about life deeply. I’ve never asked questions like, “Who am I?”, “How do I want to live out my future?” other than considering the financial aspects. But I couldn’t think of a spiritual and religious world like this. But through the Bible Studies, my eyes were opened, little by little. As I spent more time studying the Bible and serving on the Praise Team, I naturally began to spend more time with the members of our church. I think being among those who really loved God and growing in that atmosphere was of immeasurable value to me.
So, now I have a lot of friends. So, I have a lot of friends and acquaintances, and I can get along with everyone here and there. But I had a lot of time to study the Bible like this, and it became an opportunity. We even held the Bible studies at our house, so we had to prepare in advance. So there were many instances where I could spend time with the church members. At the same time, life went this way a little bit, and I was living very church-centered, so there was a lot of personal growth and I felt like my faith was growing little by little. Yes it seems like that I think the Bible study had a lot of influence on me.
Are there any struggles you have faced in your years at church?
Esther Jibsanim: We actually have a lot of regrets for our children because we were all-in at church. Our children grew up as though they didn’t have a mom or dad, and I’m really sorry to my kids that it was like that. But looking back now, our children are now coming back to the church. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence. So, it may have been difficult at the time because they didn’t have mom and dad around, but through that experience our children watched and learned, and I think that’s why they’re coming back to the church now. So thinking about that, although I am sorry to them, I’m also thankful for those times.
Elder Choi: Except for on Mondays and Tuesdays, I think we basically lived at the church. We attended Wednesday Worship, Friday Bible Study, Saturday Morning Prayer. Also, there were some services on Sunday, the first service and then the second. So our kids didn’t have a great view about the church. Because mom and dad weren’t around at home. But our youngest was raised in the church. Jeeae would even run around during worship services, so she must have felt very comfortable at church. She’s also the one who went to church the most and for the longest time out of the three. But looking back at it now, even if we were around, I don’t think there’s much we could have done for them at the time. I think being at church had a good influence on them, when you look at it in the long run. We had some regrets and felt a bit upset about certain things in the moment. Some personal thoughts that I have are that they could have turned out better if we were able to support them a bit more. But, those are all pointless thoughts when I look back at it now, because they’re all living happily and they’ve been shown the right path. So, I’m just very thankful.
Table of Contents
- Community of the Word: 25 Years of St. Timothy Presbyterian Church
- Life and Ministry of Rev. In Kee Kim
- Early Years and Ministry
- Formation and Early Years of Living Stone (1992-1996)
- Amalgamation and North York Living Stone (1996-2000)
- Becoming St. Timothy (2001)
- Growing Roots and Growth (2001-2010)
- Maturation into Spiritual Community (2010-2020)
- Pandemic and What Comes Next (2020-Beyond)
- Hermeneutics and Approach to Scripture
- How the Community Shaped Them: Stories from Members
- Reflections from Rev. Jane Yoon
- The Message of St. Timothy
- Life and Ministry of Rev. In Kee Kim