What brought you to St. Timothy?
We came to St. Timothy Presbyterian Church in 2016, so it’s been 5 years. When we first came, the church was preparing for the 20th Anniversary. When we came, we already knew Rev. Kim well because the previous church we attended was also a part of the Hanca Presbytery. He helped us a lot, from inviting us to church and other things. Also, my best friend Rev. Jane was also doing ministry at this church. There were also many deacons.
The first week we came to this church, we were very warmly welcomed. So, we could worship with a very warm heart at the beginning. At that time, after Sunday service, between the KSM and ESM services, Rev. In Kee Kim used to do Bible study with the Young Couples and Young Families group for about 30 minutes. We happened to join that Bible study, and thought that we needed to make a decision while we were listening to Rev. Kim’s messages. We thought about it for a few months, and that is how it all started.
How did the Friday Life Study begin?
We came here in 2016, and there was a gathering we used to go around the elders’ house once a month. We were having a young couple’s gathering, and they asked us to share suggestions for the church. I shared that, since coming here alone as an international student, I married my husband, had children and raised children, it was always difficult for me to study the Word because of my children. Even after struggling to come to church on time for service, there were many instances when I could not worship because I had to take care of my children. So I suggested that it would be nice if there was a place for young mothers or anyone else that wanted to hear the message.
Two days later, we met again on a Sunday, and an Elder called me and told me Rev. Kim will teach us the Scripture, so go and find a place and gather some people. I was taken by surprise. I meant I wanted to participate in that kind of gathering, but suddenly I was in the position to organize and search. There happened to be space at our academy during the mornings, so we decided to start our Life Study there. Afterwards, Pastor Sunny offered to hold a daycare for our children, and that is how the gathering started.
How have you been shaped through the Friday Life Study?
During our Bible studies, Rev. Kim said, the most important thing is that we are not here to learn and study, but that it is a life study; we are here to share our lives. And then he said, this is not a process of filling ourselves with more knowledge, but a process of delearning; process of extraction. People who came were usually mothers of young students. They were parents, and most of them were from other churches. Some had regularly studied the Scripture, and some were just beginning in their faith. We realized there was so much we misunderstood or learned wrongly that we were sure was the truth about the Bible. So, over the year that we studied the Gospel of John, we learned one chapter at a time, little by little, every week, bringing out the things we had misunderstood. Instead of merely trying to fill ourselves with more knowledge, we delighted in the space that was being emptied out.
Something all the mothers were struggling with during the Life Study, was that I needed to try harder, I needed to raise my children well, I needed to try harder with my faith. But we realized that we didn’t need to try so hard. Because of that, our load became lighter and easier and brighter. Because the mothers got brighter, that positively affected our children and the churches they were affiliated with.
For us, we came up with a new philosophy on how to run this academy through these Life Studies. In the beginning of doing this academy business, I thought the most important thing was teaching. But I realized the most important thing was caring. Not only the students, but also caring for the parents that are always next to the students. We started building up from there and really started to dream about how we could serve the people in Toronto. So we began to plan seminars for the parents and think about how we could help students living in other areas as well. We believe all of this started from the things we got out of the Life Study.
Are there any similar stories for those who attended Friday Life Study? How have they grown through the Life Study?
By starting the Life Studies gatherings, Rev. Kim led the meetings and people from other churches or people who don’t attend church were able to participate. Also, because of the pandemic, people from other places, like Edmonton, also joined our Life Study via Zoom. Before the pandemic, we met at our Academy for our gatherings for 3 years. After that we had our gatherings via an online platform, and I felt from people sharing about themselves that I felt in my own life. I’ve also participated in Bible studies and attended church regularly, but I felt many times that there were parts that hurt me and others. So we shared about those aspects a lot. We don’t know just how much we read the Gospel of Mark and John, but everyone read the Scripture in a new light and came to us personally in a new way. We were deeply engaged in the words Gospel writer Mark wrote and engaged with the thoughts and situations and engaged more deeply than the surface level Bible studies, learning and memorizing how many disciples there were and things like that. We learned about how this gospel was written and for what purpose. I was grateful for those things.
I don’t know how these classes will carry out in the future, but most of the members that attend these classes are women. There are a couple men who attend. In the instance of my husband, he was so grateful for having these classes he would meet with his friends in their 50’s and started doing Bible Study on Saturday Evenings. He would take the things he learned in these classes and, if you look on the website, you can find lectures by Rev. Kim. There were similar things, so he would send them these clips. Although they did not attend the Life Study, they gathered to listen to Rev. Kim’s messages and have discussions about them. I was grateful for those things.
How has the church shaped your family?
It was difficult for us to decide on finding a new church after leaving the church we attended for a long time. So I went around to the churches of Pastors I heard speak in Toronto with my children. Every time I went to a new church, it was fine for us adults. We would go in and worship and leave quietly, but it was difficult for the children who had to introduce themselves and meet a new teacher every time.
Then we ended up coming to this church. When we first came, Pastor Sunny welcomed us warmly. She gave the children hugs and held their hands so that they wouldn’t feel awkward. It was thanks to her efforts that our kids could adjust well and now our eldest child attends the Hi-C gatherings, seeing the older friends and Youth Pastor, and seeing how much he enjoys those gatherings. Now he is at the age to begin serving, we see him serving in various capacities and also having his struggles. Because when it gets busy, the work starts to pile up. We are grateful to see him sharing his struggles that his friends in outside society cannot feel with others at church, and also listening to their struggles.
Something we are most thankful for is that Gene is serving as a teacher for Kids Church. Kids nowadays don’t want to speak or sing in front of other people But when we see him picking the songs and leading the actions, and really encouraging the kids, that is something we are grateful for. The part he steps up to help others. Next, we are grateful for seeing him do what he can do in front of God. It is great to see, in doing so, him building up leadership skills.
How has the church shaped you?
The impact is that I’m starting to slow things down a bit. Before I was in my 40’s, I thought I had to try and work very hard at church. Of course it’s important to work hard. But I thought I wasn’t allowed to take it easy. I thought I had to do something, but I realized that’s not the case. It doesn’t mean I won’t do anything, but I learned how to slow down.
Another thing is, like when you have to throw away many belongings when you travel far away, I got that feeling. What I mean is, after coming to St. Timothy Church, the things I thought were so important that I always carried them with me, I learned to think and to lay down things that weren’t necessary. My hands became lighter and I had the freedom to hold onto other things. I liked seeing that side of myself.
Another thing that I am grateful for is that all the elders and deacons are all great. Also, to see all the pastoral staff and members getting along well was great to see. I’ve seen in the past many cases of pastoral staff and elders not getting along. There are many cases like that. But at this church, seeing everyone greet each other and enjoying each other’s presence made me think, although they are the same church members we see every week, seeing the members liking each other so much made me think that this is true happiness.
This made me think about what I can do at this church. When we first came to this church, we had a prayer topic, which was that we would find a place that we can serve at church. Also, to find healing through listening to the message, and the place I found was with the young families and new member classes. Thinking about what we can do for young families so that they can adjust well at church. How they can feel welcome and feel they can continue attending and like this church. Having these thoughts, although no one asked me to, I called on my own to say I would like to serve the New Members Class. So I’ve been serving the New Members Class for a few years, and whenever young families come, I’ve made the effort to get along well and help them integrate into our cell group. That is how I’m serving here.
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