How did Living Stone come to be?
During the time when the Korean Central United Church in Toronto was in conflict, I was going to and from LA for business purposes. By the time I came back, the church had split. There used to be a Prayer Meeting that I would regularly attend. I used to have many dreams before the Prayer Meetings. We used to gather and bring our prayer topics with other deaconesses and we used to pray together all night every Friday. Now, they’ve all passed away and aren’t with us. But at that time, there was only one person, Elder Songchan Chung’s mother. She was very wise, clever, and she prayed a lot, so when I dreamed of something strange, I would go and ask her to interpret it. “Deaconess, I had a dream like this. I thought it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, because I heard a voice saying ‘I have given you a ball of water’ and to go West.” I thought it was just a normal dream.
So, when I told the Deaconess, she said, “Oh, I think the church is going to split up.” “Why would the church split?” I asked. “Because you had a dream telling you to go West, what else could that mean?” And the Holy Spirit seems to be on our side. Why a lump of water? The water is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit appears in various forms. The voice told me as I was given an overflowing lump of water to go West. But then, in just six months, the church had split. So all the members and the elders were at wits end. They all gave up and had no plan.
When I thought about it, I was convinced. So I thought to myself that we should go West and build a church, but to whom can I say that to? They would all think, “Who do you think you are to say such a thing” So I was very careful.. I just gathered and prayed.We didn’t have a place to gather, some of the deaconesses had passed away, and at the time Deaconess Jong-Yeol Kim was very ill. So 6 or 7 of us would gather at our home to pray late into the night, and it wasn’t easy to gather and drive them back all the time. But there was Rev. Sangdae Shim’s prayer center on Bloor and Christie. So we asked him if we could gather there, and he said “Yes.” So, about six people gathered at that prayer center, and it was much easier to gather because all the deaconesses lived at Sherbourne.
But Rev. Shin helped. He came and preached, and comforted us. He told us God was on our side and gave us strength. When he was busy, he sent his son-in-law who was also a Pastor and that gave us strength too. But once the church was completely split, there’s nothing you can do about it. But I had hope. All the other deaconesses followed their sons to a presbyterian church in the West, and a few of their children attend our church. Also, all the choir members from Korean Presbyterian Church go there. Now, if you go to a Korean Presbyterian church, there are three or four couples who are our members. It’s really heartbreaking. We continue to gather together to pray, but there is no strength. We can’t just pray, we also need to take action.
There was a pastor that used to pray a lot and prophesize in LA, so I asked him to come. At that time, I had no money, so I borrowed 3000 dollars from Elder Ahn so that I can send the pastor 1000 dollars and prepare the other 2000 dollars as a gratuity fee. When I asked the pastor to come, he willingly agreed and came. So I called all the elders, about 5 or 6 of them, and they came as husband and wife. We gathered about 30 people at my house. So we worshiped and prayed for the laying on of hands one by one. He said to us, “Why are you disappointed? Why are you in despair?”. “The Holy Spirit is on this side, so why are you disappointed? Move on.” It was a message for us to raise a church. So, Deacon Yoo Won-cheol’s younger brother, Elder Yu Won-deok, stepped forward. He found a few locations, so we got a place that only goes one block from the East to the West. After having service there for only 2 weeks, we were told to leave for being too noisy; that the kids were making too much noise. So we moved to a location on Jarvis and stayed there for about 1 year. After that, we heard a location on Annette was available, so we went there formally, as paying tenants, and stayed there for about a year and a half.
But there was no revival. We were beginning to have hope again, but only Elder Young-gon Choi’s family followed. Anyways, they gave us a big welcome party as new members. Whether it was the EM [or KM], there was no revival. The Senior Pastor of North York Church was the older brother of the Korean Presbyterian Church, but he said he was going back to Korea. So we didn’t know what to do. There were only around 40 members, and we couldn’t call a minister.
That is when Rev. Kim approached us. He said. “Why don’t we merge together?” “Yes, let’s do that,” we said. We knew Rev. Kim well, so we decided to join churches and we began to pray about this process. We realized God was pleased with us coming together. Like two old trees that grew and bent in this peculiar way to look like they were bowing at each other, and then stuck together. So I told Deaconess Jung-yeol Kim and she said, “That’s great you guys are joining. God is pleased.”
So we decided to move on a Tuesday, but they kept on telling us to come to North York Church. But there, the parking lot is small, and there weren’t a lot of members at that church either. So we prayed about it, and I had a dream. In the dream, we left our church, but when we did that, the church collapsed. If the church stood, that would have been fine, but the church started to collapse. So I went to Deaconess Byung-yeol Kim who also interprets dreams. She told me to not leave the church. So I left it as that, but rumors started to spread that I was against leaving the church. There was chaos in our church and the other church, although it was not my intention. So we came to a decision at our last member’s meeting. We decided to move, but one deaconess said she wouldn’t. So I asked why, and she said “Milal Church is supposed to go there at that church.” So I decided to stay because I did not want to become a member of the Milal Church. Because of that, rumors that I was against the church joining spread again.
Tuesday was the moving day, so we packed up everything and were about to leave the door. But we got a phone call saying “Don’t come.” “Why not?” They said,”We don’t have parking space here in North York, and it’s noisy to see this person right now. You too have to leave.” So, the group from North York came because they had no other choice.
We know the Holy Spirit was guiding us because we decided to worship there again. A few months.. not until a year. We gave it a few months. And then we received word from the presbytery that this church is vacant, so we had a few people come to see the church. They saw it as a good place to start. We didn’t have a lot of money, so the Elders emptied their pockets and put down enough money for a down payment. There were about 100 church members at that time.
So now, we moved here, and we began working hard, and then we began to have a revival. A lot of people came. About five doctor couples came. One of them came and said, “We want to have a separate EM service, so we will call a pastor from the US.” Then my husband told them, “Be patient, be patient,” and all five of them left at once. In the beginning, many people came because it was nice, so now we have 200 people, and there are young children here as well.
What were some of the challenges and good memories of those early days of Living Stone?
The prayer gatherings are what carried us through that time. Even the name Living Stone – we were told to look at 1 Peter 2 during our prayer gatherings, but however many times people like us read it, we can’t understand it well. So we called Deaconess Jung-yeol Kim and she pointed out the part that talked about the Living Stone. We thought it was a sign to call the church Living Stone Church, and that became the name of the church. We’ve written underneath Bible verses for a few years. Anyways, the name became Living Stone Church.
So that was that, but because we amalgamated with North York Church, Rev. Kim told us Timothy was the son of a gentile father and a Jewish mother. We are in a similar situation as Timothy, so let’s be Timothy. We used to go around to pray on Wednesdays, but the name St. Timothy Church wouldn’t come out of my mouth when I prayed because it was unfamiliar. Anyways, the news had spread that our church was the first in Toronto to amalgamate peacefully.
Everything is full of grace nowadays. (I’m sorry to compliment our Pastor as being smart), But he is very brainy and is very sharp. He keeps getting sharper year after year. Especially after coming back from Korea and studying a lot of sermon texts. Everyone has been full of praise for Rev. Kim. They are all so happy.
So, no matter what happens, let us pray. Up till now, when us deaconesses all got together to pray, God listened to all our prayers. We have nothing to worry about because we have the faith that God listens to our prayers. We’ve overcome our struggles. Our faith has become even stronger.
How were you shaped by the church?
Anyway, at our prayer meetings we have the firm belief that “you just have to pray, God will listen.” That’s why I had to pray whenever I was in trouble. God listened whenever I prayed. So it’s evidence. Just like Elder Chung’s aunt. She was still young, and we were the only two young people in our prayer gathering. But I really enjoyed it, and I was very happy, but she passed away early.
After that, Living Stone Church has passed now, and North York Church had merged creating St. Timothy Church without any big conflicts arising. There were no conflicts between us while we were having the members’ meetings. But we were just so quiet. You could say that Rev. Kim had succeeded. Also, especially since Rev. Chung came and embraced us with love, and since then the atmosphere has been good. Also, we have a fantastic ESM Minister (Rev. Simon Park) and things have been very good. No one has any complaints. I’m very happy. I have no complaints. If I am told to pray, then I pray. When we pray, God listens to our prayers. I am just grateful that we were able to overcome our struggles.
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