Journey with Living Stone
How did you begin your journey with Living Stone?
So I moved to Toronto in 1992 for school, and then I knew some people in Toronto that were attending TKPC. And then before I moved, I used to visit here because Peter was living here. So I used to go to TKPC to visit him and then when I heard Rev Kim come out and he wasn’t in TKPC anymore, I don’t know how I found him or maybe I was led by some friends or something. So, I got in touch with him and I was living downtown and he was renting a church very close to where I was living right at Jarvis and Gerard – a very old church, very nice inside. And so I was attending Bible study just with him, me and another friend. So the three of us started that way and then more people started coming to church and then it just kind of evolved that way. So basically I started my whole faith journey at that point. And then I got baptized like three years later.
What were these early years like? What are some of your memories from this time?
Yeah, new to faith so a lot of Bible studies. For some reason, it’s hard to remember. This is like so long ago and I think at the time I was like 25. You’re not really aware of a lot of surroundings and what’s going on. Your mind is so narrowed and focused at the time. So it’s hard to go back, but I do remember a lot of Bible studies like at Esther, Kris’s sister’s house, with Mr. John Lee and his wife and Kris and Esther. I don’t know how I ended up at their house, but I was there. And at the beginning it was just Rev. Kim and people, and I remember Miseon and Steve coming and Stephanie was like an infant at the time. So, Sunday school and all that, Josh and Grace were so little. My memory is very fuddled, I try to recollect those. But (Sunday School) it was growing. Every Sunday I was seeing more and more people. And yeah, it just kinda evolved until I guess North York and Living Stone amalgamated, not too long after that.
What was it like when Living Stone and North York amalgamated?
It was exciting. I remember going to North York Church before they moved. And there were some people that I think I remember meeting Caroline, and Gabby was just born at that time. And a few friends of mine knew her already. So, it was kind of nice to have them join together. And of course, you know, it seemed fuller. And then the name change and the new building purchase and all that. So yeah, it was exciting. Because I never really grew up in the church, all of these processes and things, I wasn’t really aware of those arrangements or what had to be done. I do remember before the purchase of this building, coming to see the building and we had to make a decision whether it was good for our congregation. And that was very exciting. I remember entering the sanctuary and being very wowed, you know, with the high ceilings and the way it looked and it was like a new beginning, with a new name and a new body of people.
The Early Years of Children’s Ministry
What are some of your memories of the early years of children’s ministry?
Children’s Ministry? I don’t know how I ended up there for somebody who never really grew up in faith, but I guess out of necessity and, you know, I love children. So, it was me and two other people. One played the piano, and me and Joanne (interesting enough I think it was Andy’s sister who is a minister now) – the three of us kind of started it with Josh and Grace being so little, and Shinae and Dahae were like babies basically. We started from there and then we moved to Victoria Royce right downtown in that building. And there it grew a little bit more, some of the kids were being born and they started coming into Sunday School. And then of course, when I got married and started having my own kids, there was a big group of us who were having kids at that point.
So, out of necessity, the mothers kind of took it upon ourselves to take turns doing. And I ended up staying in the children’s ministry for a long time. And then, Jisook was our first Pastor and she was basically doing that as she was nursing Jocelyn on the side, if you could imagine. I remember those days and going over to Jisook’s to prepare for Sunday while, you know, I tried to look after the babies and she was preparing a lot of the Sunday School stuff. So at that point it was growing quite a bit because our kids were being born, we needed a nursery and things like that. And on the side as well, we met outside of church for fellowship. A lot of us you know, even you Lauren – your mom – we were pregnant at the same time with you and Stephen. And then, I think out of desperation, we were seeking some Bible study, like for mothers and stuff. I think we were very optimistic, trying to have a Bible study while we had two year olds and infants running around and crawling, and we took turns going to each other’s house. Those were really good memories. And I think that was quite a bonding experience. And then now I look back and our kids are like in their twenties! So, back then it was out of necessity, but at the same time I’m really grateful that whoever suggested that we meet every week like that, to have fellowship and try to have Bible study. And even getting the kids acquainted and to have memories with one another. And then when I think back now, it was crazy, but at the same time, thank God we were young enough to deal with all that. Yeah. And I guess that evolved or overflowed into Sunday School. So the kids were much more familiar with one another. And then, like I said, with Jisook being the Pastor for a while. And then there was a time when I think we didn’t have a children’s pastor for a while. I think Kee took over for a while. And then I think that’s when Rev. David Son started coming and that really invigorated the Sunday school.
It started with VBS. He came at the time when we were, I guess in the summer. So he started with VBS and he was energetic and had a lot of ideas. His wife June also, was very supportive. Like she could organize anything, and gave a lot of help behind the scenes, doing arts and crafts and coming up with ideas. Yeah, Rev. Son really pushed the limits and tried to get the teachers and parents involved. And I think that was good, to take ownership of the Sunday school and the children’s ministry. And he even went beyond borders. Like our church is in a neighbourhood so he started including neighbourhood kids and telling kids to invite anyone and everyone. So even to this day, I think Mena’s family, in a way that’s how they came because they were friends with Jonathan Choe at the time and started coming to VBS. And I remember Charley as a very small child and her grandpa bringing her. And I think it was her first time being away from them. And she wasn’t too keen on staying with us and, you know, she cried and cried for a few days. But then after that she settled in with other kids and now look at her, she’s one of our top leaders here. So you know, it’s very interesting to see.
How have our children’s and youth ministries helped shape the children and youth growing up in the church?
I hope Sunday School gave them the basics. But at that point, at that time, it’s more us telling them. They’re just sort of like a sponge at the time. Having more fellowship and feeling the homeness of church – that they could come to church and feel like it’s their second home and the people around them that they see every week. So I guess we always wanted them to feel rooted in church. And then as they went into high school, a little bit more critical thinking was introduced. And I saw the togetherness, their praise, and sometimes they would take turns to give the main praise team a break and stuff like that.
So once a month, I remember they were up there at the front. So it was really beautiful to see. Like most of these kids I’ve seen before they were born. So that was a beautiful sight to see them grow. And you know, now that they’re in university, I know it’s difficult because they’re away from home or they have a lot of different paths and they’re trying to search, but for the most part, I hope they do come back, if they are still faltering. But yeah, I think they know that. I’ve even asked my own kids about church and they know that it’s here for them, so it’s a great comfort.
Womens’ Bible Study
What has being a part of the Womens’ Bible Study been like?
At the beginning, I think poor Rev. Kim. I think it was more marriage counselling, us complaining about our husbands session, like every week through the Bible study. Then I was gone for a while due to work. I skipped a few years and then when I came back, I realized it had evolved – like so much, what a difference. Like the questions and what we could share. And of course, you know the amazing breakfasts that every woman took turns bringing, that was really good fellowship to share. But we learned a lot too. Not just from the Bible, but we read books and different authors, different theologians. That was very interesting. I think one session we did that to see different points of view, how people viewed theory or part of theology, and even from a Catholic priest point of view. Very interesting writers. I think that opened our eyes, in a way, to say it’s not just one way and to really look at it and question it and see where we could make conclusions or even just leave it at that, and that was really good. It was a very honest, comfortable place to discuss life.
How did you become an Elder?
Unfortunately I was resistant at first, after a few times being asked. And then finally, you know, how long ago was this? Three years now? Three years ago. I decided, “Yeah, why not?” I guess, I turned 50 at that time too. So, you know you’re a lot more comfortable with yourself.
What was behind your initial resistance to becoming an Elder?
I think I didn’t know if I could be a representative, you know? And, I knew I didn’t have any reservations for time. And also at the time my kids were still in high school when I was asked and stuff. And because I honestly knew that it was going to take a lot of work and time and I wasn’t sure if my family was ready for that, or me. And at the time there was no females. So when I was asked first, I was kind of taken aback. Just because I’m a female, I don’t have that kind of like reservation, but, you know, maybe see how the others may view it. But yeah, I think it was more timing for me. I felt not ready, or my family didn’t feel ready.
What led to you saying yes?
What changed? Well, I guess I saw the other elders. Like, how they managed and what they were doing, and I was grateful for their sacrifice. So I thought, “It’s my turn, I have to do something.” So when someone approached me, initially I was kinda like “Oh no”, but then I had a quick lunch with Rev. Kim and he didn’t come to convince me, we just kind of talked. I was working too, so he came to meet me downtown, and then we had a quick lunch. And then after I was like: “Well, why not?” And, I think I talked about this at session one time. It is a sacrifice, but it is a good sacrifice. So I thought, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” And then after making that decision, it was very peaceful.
What has the experience been like?
Well, I didn’t think I’d be doing most of it during Covid, but at the same time it’s been good. You know it does take a lot of energy, work and stuff, but there’s others – like there are eight others or before the others retired, there were more – right now there’s seven others, I guess. So it’s not just you, it’s not about you. It’s been great to get to know people a little bit more in depth. We all have our little idiosyncrasies and little insecurities, but we all have good gifts. So trying to find what that has been really good.
How has being an Elder shaped you?
The first year when I came in, gratefully we had a training session about what the role of an elder is in church. So, yes we make decisions, we do spearhead a lot of activities, like doing things – but it’s more about pastoral care. So that really helped, that training helped. And yes, sometimes that takes more energy, even though you may be at home, either texting or emailing or phone calling and on Sundays in-person speaking with the congregation members. Shaped me? You know, I’m a little shy, but I’m not that shy. I am an extrovert. Okay. You all know that. I love speaking with people. I love, you know, finding out about their other people’s interests. Doing some pastoral care that way has shaped me. So I guess it really brings it out and sometimes, you know, I’m tired. Like, you know, everyone gets tired and you feel like “Oh, I don’t wanna do it”. But it pushes me because being an elder, it is a responsibility, and one which I take seriously. So even though there may be days that I don’t feel like it, I still have to push through it, and that’s helped. And, learning about people’s lives, you know, there’s lots of things going on in other people’s lives. So hearing about those things sometimes is hard, but I do whatever I can to kind of comfort them. But so many people are so strong and I see that, and that’s been really good to see. Even through their own suffering, how strong they are. I’m sure you guys see that too with others.
Being Shaped by the Church
How has this church shaped you?
Well, this church has definitely been a huge part of my faith – it is my faith. You know, like I said, I was baptized here. I learned here and I don’t think it’s done shaping me. But for the most part, it has led me to a deeper faith with every year. You know, a long time ago I studied Romans like three times. But every decade or every few years when we go back, there’s always something new. And it’s interesting because it speaks to you at whatever life stage you’re at. So that’s what I found interesting about the Bible. And, just trying to stay more open to whatever teachings that God has for me.
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