How did you begin your journey with Living Stone?
I came to Canada when I was sixteen years old. The church that I went to was the United Church on Sherbourne Street. My uncle was the minister so we were there for a few years, but I think there was some kind of argument between two groups in the church. And some of us just came out and formed a church that became Living Stone Church.
And I remember interviewing Rev. Kim and then I asked Rev. Kim, “Why do you want to come to our church?” Or something? Very ridiculous questions. But somehow, I was chosen when Rev. Kim came and I don’t know if it was before, but they said they need somebody like me to bridge KSM and ESM. So I was in the choir in the KSM and I was brought to ESM, so started the ESM and that’s how I started the ESM.
What has your experience with the choir been like?
I have always enjoyed singing ever since I was young and even in Korea like elementary, middle school, I was always in the choir enjoying singing. So I came to Canada, joined the choir. At the United Church, there I did the choir with Jinwon’s dad and I was under him. And when we came to Living Stone Church, Dr. Im’s wife, Hye Jin, we asked her to conduct because she was a pianist. So I think for a while she conducted the ESM choir. So at some point, she said she can’t do it anymore because she had three kids and she just had Danielle, the youngest one. Danielle would cry during the choir service and she had a hard time, so she quit.
But I think before she quit, she asked Jinwon and I remember asking him, and then he said yes. I think before he was in the other church and became a conductor. So he did a lot of work for our choir, he really put his effort into our choir.
And then a lot of people joined. It wasn’t a big choir, but we always had a good number. After that I think when I was single, he left the choir. I can’t remember very well, but there’s a time that I took over because there was no conductor. I didn’t have training, but I had a desire to keep going. And then I knew that if nobody stepped up, the choir would dissolve. So I tried that for one and a half years. I didn’t try too hard. I tried week by week, looking at the music. But yeah, I just went with the flow. And it worked out. I’m very amazed every week, and we did okay. And then after that, I think Jinwon, after he got married, he came back to our church and then we asked him again and he took on, so that was good.
How did Teesdale begin?
I think I was involved for 10 years. As I said, Helen simply asked, “Can you help? We need help.” So I said, “Okay, let’s try.” And then that’s how I started. So I went there weekly and for about three hours, we ran in partnership with the food bank – the food bank supplies the food and a few members of our church go and help out with the local people. There were a lot of struggles within our church doing the food bank. There’s power struggles too, within the local people trying to exercise their powers. There’s even a power struggle among our volunteers too. But as the years passed by, we became very efficient. So two ESM people take turns to go there, one person just to take charge of the computer, the other one leading the local people on what to do. And we kind of manage and give out food. And I thought that was such a good thing.
We were so efficient and we were using the local people to mobilize. Local people were serving the local, that’s the most effective way of running the food bank. Other food banks, like charity, come and they work together to serve the client, which is the local people. But at our food bank, the local people themselves, they mobilized and they were running it. So I thought it was a very ideal and efficient way. But the food bank didn’t see that. And I don’t think they really liked the fact that local people ran the food bank. After a few meetings, I remember doing a meeting and I said that I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to be part of it. Because there were not many people who wanted to work in the food bank, it naturally just dissolved.
How did the Women’s Bible Study start?
I think I joined maybe six months after, so I don’t know exactly how it started, but a number of women didn’t work so they wanted to have a Bible study. We started in a small number, but everybody was very consistent in coming out. We took turns taking care of the snacks and that helped. But, yes, we did it for more than 10 years. And through that time, I learned a lot, I grew together with them and I was very comfortable because it was such a small group. I was very comfortable talking to them. Sometimes, we argue. Some of the ladies, they know how to argue and Rev. Kim had some hard times too, like we argued together and he didn’t know what to do. When I look back, it was a very good time.
The bible study shaped me because I think at some point, I told you this before, but I thought I have to be good to be loved by God. I always had these thoughts that I have to be better, I have to do good things to be favored by Him. But at one Bible study, Rev. Kim told me that God is good. God is just loving, so that regardless of who you are, he’s just loving. That’s why he loves you. It’s got nothing to do with who you are, it’s His nature that loves you. And hearing that gave me such freedom. Unconsciously, I was in bondage and always tried to be good. I have to be a good person and there’s a desire. But at that moment, I realized that I just have to be myself and that’s good enough, and that gives me such freedom.
How did you become an Elder?
I served two terms of BOM when there was no eldership. I think I shared in my reflection, but I was very sick when I was 50. Later on, John Chung came and asked, “When you get better, do you think you can become an elder?” At that time, because John Chung asked me to do it, I just said “Yes, okay! Yeah when I get better, I will do it.” That conversation stayed in my mind. So when I became better and somebody asked me again, I thought about it. For some reason, I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t say no. It wasn’t like, “Yes, I want to do it!” No, it was that I can not say no. But it was more like “I think I’m going to say yes.” I thought that honestly, for me, it’s not that I’m so good at English that I can be an elder for ESM. I’m not even that passionate of a person. I didn’t think that I would be very useful as an Elder – I wondered what I could contribute. However, I trusted that God will work things out. I just simply say “Yes,” and the journey starts. But usually, that’s what happens.
When I was doing the food bank, the first thing was when Helen Lee came to me and asked, “Can you help me?” I didn’t think too hard about it. So at that moment, I had time. I couldn’t use a computer that well, but I brought my sister and then started learning. So I just said, “yes.” And that’s how the journey begins. Not too much thinking. I just said, “Okay, let’s try.” Because I’m not a very heavy thinker or analyzer, I just go with the flow. That’s how I did it. But through the journey of eldership, I learned to see the community. Instead of being self absorbed, I went from looking at “me”, to it evolving to looking at “us”. When I am given a responsibility, some part of me still goes, “Why do I have to do this?” I always think that. I still do. And I have to think, “How annoying.” I think that part of me will never go away, but there’s another voice in me saying, “Why not? Why not? Try. Why not try?” And there’s always two parts struggling within me, working in me.
How has St.Timothy shaped you?
I grew with this church. Rev. Kim is my teacher and I grew with him. I’m very thankful that my mind opened up through the Bible studies. And at some point, I experienced that “Oh! God is with me.” He’s in me, he’s around me. He’s working. And that recognition really changed my life so that he will take care of me. I came to that point. And through the knowledge of the Bible, it became reality and I could say He is with me. He is with me, He is with my family, he is with everybody. So I don’t have many worries.
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