How did you become a part of Tuesday Bible Study?
I became a part of Tuesday Bible study through Simon Park. We’ve been friends since our days at Toronto Korean Presbyterian Church. After university, and then early in my career, I had been away from the church for a number of years. Simon had approached me during that time with the idea of joining up with this study group. It wasn’t necessarily called a traditional Bible study per se, but it was a group that would come together to really learn about the Bible from a critical thinking perspective.
It was more of a study group than a Bible study as we know it, so that was really of interest to me. At the time I was not going to church but I was really craving an opportunity to learn more about the Bible, and some for intellectual stimulation at that time, being early in my career and away from studies. I think that was something that I really wanted to get back into, and it sounded like a good idea at the time, so I joined.
What thoughts or feelings did you have as you began attending TBS?
The experience that I had beginning TBS was really exciting: seeing some familiar faces, after a while, on a regular basis every Tuesday. The community aspect was nice, but also, reading the Bible and then learning about actually, what is this text saying? These texts that I’ve read before, but never actually went deeper. Thinking about it, learning more about approaching the text in a different way and also, understanding how to read the Bible, and then learning and meeting Rev. Kim as well, and seeing how he teaches and how he also thinks about it and how he facilitates that discussion – all of that was a new experience for me and something that I really enjoyed and found really exciting. I think that was what I really liked about it and why I decided to keep doing it. Most importantly, I think it was also the type of discussions that we were having. It was really open. Some of the people that were in the group were not Christian and did not grow up in the church, so a lot of different perspectives were coming in and having that type of discussion, from different perspectives was really appealing. I liked that.
How has TBS shaped you over the years?
Oh, TBS has become like a big part of my life. I guess, without really knowing it, it has been, I think over 10 years now, but, it’s helped me understand or helped me think through God in my life, not only from a personal perspective, like my personal relationship with God, but also looking at it more, globally, largely. That being Christian is not just about my God and me, but it is equally as important as knowing how to live in community with others. So that is one in the same. I think that going through the studies every week, critically thinking about what it actually means – a lot of the traditional teachings that we grew up with in Sunday school, is not necessarily all there is. There’s actually way more to it than we realize. TBS has helped me learn more deeply about the texts in the Bible, the stories that are being told, what’s actually happening there, and what it means for me and what it means for us as people. That really helped me shape the way that I see myself and myself in the world.
How did you end up coming to St. Tim’s?
I wasn’t going to church on a regular basis. I was not sure about church for a really long time. I started coming on and off. I started going to a church downtown. I was going on and off by myself and it was a United church, predominantly white, and I didn’t really know anybody. I felt that the community aspect was missing. Then, on a whim, since I knew people at St. Tim’s through TBS, I came, some weeks on and off for, for a number of years. Through TBS, I knew people that went to this church and that’s how I came to St. Tim’s on a pseudo regular basis. I wouldn’t even call it regular, just on and off.
It wasn’t until I had my first kid that I decided to be more committed to a church and have him grow up in the community. And so I decided to come on a regular basis. One thing that really helped me decide to make more of a commitment to St Tim’s was the welcoming community and the people in it. Even though I didn’t really know anyone, I felt like everyone was very nice and warm and welcoming. I think that really helped me realize this was a community that I wanted to grow in as well.
How has St. Timothy shaped you?
I would say, I don’t know if I have the words for that. How has St Timothy’s shaped me? I think that knowing that there is a group of people who care about you and who are consistent is very helpful and inspiring. I think a very special thing about St. Tim’s is the people in it and how inspiring they are just even in their daily lives, but also the things that they’ve gone through. There’s so much to learn from everyone, and that also makes me want to give back as well. I don’t know how personally, but I’m here to sort of learn and kind of figure that out as I go. It shaped me to kind of want to plug into something bigger, a community that is safe and welcoming, but also interested in, not just being insular, but going out, extending ourselves and figuring out how to be more helpful and of service to those who are more vulnerable, those who are in need. I think the vision of the church and the heart of it is what inspires me a lot.
How has scripture shaped the way St. Timothy engages with the neighbouring communities and their needs?
I think the intention is there. When I talk about the things that I’ve learned through TBS, a big part of it is the power: the flipping of the power and how power has shaped our society, how power has kind of consumed us as people. Also, learning more about Jesus and how he lived his life and how he kind of just flipped it the other way around by putting the last first, I think that that’s kind of what I’m talking about and what I see in St Tim’s, I think that the intention is there, that as a community, we want to think about those who are last and who don’t have a voice.
But I do feel like we can get better at that. I know there are programs that we’re doing in terms of volunteering, and outreach and donations and charity work here and there. But I think consistently we can probably grow in that area and stretch beyond ourselves a bit more. Now as we build the community stronger, I think we’re it. We are in a better position to do that, and what that looks like, I think we have to do more exploration, get creative, be innovative and try to stretch ourselves there.
How did you come to be an elder?
I’m gonna say probably almost all the elders you talk to are going to start off with “I didn’t want to be an elder”, and that is the same case for me. I was not interested and did not want to be, but I do have to then go back to all of the things that I’ve learned throughout the years during TBS. Again, it’s not just about me, it’s about how I live and be within the people around me. At the time, we were in pandemic mode. I think it was a very isolating experience for everybody, but I was also very aware of the importance of connecting with others and supporting others, especially, and during that time. So several people reached out and talked to me and actually accepted that I said no.
They were cool with that, but I think that talking a little bit more with the other elders, getting a better idea of what it means to be part of the session: the time commitments as a mom with two young kids, the flexibility, the schedule, the logistics was an important thing as well. Talking through the logistics, also understanding it from ‘What do I want to do and how am I going to contribute to this community that I love?’ – thinking through that as well, and then praying about it and talking to God about it, asking, should I do this? I think the resounding response that I felt was a yes. And so, one thing that I’ve learned through TBS is it’s really not about me. I love that and I think that helped me get through the doubts, the insecurities, and fear to try and helped me do this, not for myself and not just for my family, but to figure out how to do it, for others.
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