BY GENE LEE
The officer responsible for governing, teaching, and shepherding in a Presbyterian church is the elder. Elders may be pastors (referred to as teaching elders) or lay members, with all having equal authority. Collectively, the elders form a session, or elder board, which oversees the church. The authority of the elders is delegated to them by members of the church, according to the principle of the priesthood of all believers, which teaches that all Christians have personal access to God through faith in Christ. Therefore, members share in the responsibility of exercising Christ’s authority by affirming the Lord’s will in approving the selection of elders.
ODPC operates as a single church family with two interdependent congregations, an English-speaking congregation (EC) and a Korean-speaking congregation (KC). Each congregation operates its ministry under the direction of its own elder board. The executive body for governance and operation of the entire church is the Joint Elder Board, consisting of the KC Elder Board and the EC Elder Board. The EC Lead Pastor and any EC Associate Pastor(s) are considered members of the EC Elder Board. Other candidates for EC eldership must have formally served ODPC EC as a deacon in good standing for at least three years. EC elder candidates may be recommended by any EC member and are elected with the approval of a majority of the Joint Elder Board and a 2/3 vote of the EC membership. Elders serve for a term of six years, followed by a one year sabbatical. The term of service may be renewed with the approval of a majority of the EC Elder Board and a majority vote of the EC membership.
*The term ‘Associate Pastor’ does not include assistant pastors, executive pastors, or other various ministry pastors, unless specifically designated as ‘Associate Pastor’.
Last December, the ODPC English Congregation installed two new elders, Sam Kwon and Jim Lee. Recently, The Threshold caught up with our two newest EC Elder Board members and asked them a few questions to help our readers get to know them a little bit better.
Who are your family members?
Sam Kwon: I am married to Jackie, and have three children: Calvin (8), Ruth (6) and Bethel (3).
Jim Lee: Sunny, Jonah, Juliet and little baby Micah.
What is your current occupation?
SK: My title is Practice Lead/Senior Director for Energy (Acting) at Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US foreign assistance agency. I lead a team of energy specialists to bring more, and more reliable, electricity to the poor people in developing countries.
JL: Lover and a fighter and sometimes a dentist.
What are your hobbies/pastimes?
SK: I like reading books on economic development and theology. I also like playing Candy Crush when the kids go to bed. Both are equally relaxing.
JL: Loving and fighting.
What is your favorite movie?
SK: That changes depending on my mood. I do find myself unable to pull away whenever I catch either A Few Good Men or any of the Jason Bourne movies on TV.
JL: That’s a tough one, but I do love certain scenes. There’s the ending in Toy Story 3 when [Andy] plays with his toys one last time. The first 15 mins of Up is exceptional storytelling. Every scene with Ryan Gosling in The Notebook.
What is your favorite Christian book (besides the Bible)?
SK: That’s like asking me to name my favorite child! I can’t, in good conscience, pick just one. Here are three non-fictions that come to my mind: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jesus and the Victory of God by N. T. Wright and A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.
JL: Desiring God by John Piper.
What is your favorite or most significant childhood memory?
SK: In second grade while growing up in Korea, I’d promised to finish my summer vacation homework before the last weekend of the vacation but didn’t. My parents reprimanded me. I went to bed crying, thinking the previously planned trip to an amusement park the following day was off. I remember my parents waking me up early the next morning, telling me to hurry up and get ready for the amusement park! I still think of that moment as one that exemplified for me what grace is, an unmerited favor shown me undeservedly.
JL: Favorite memory. How do I choose? Here’s one. Before there was memory foam, there were my grandmother’s arms. I used to love laying on her warm, floppy arms while all her excess skin would gently enfold the back of my head as I drifted off to sleep.
What was the greatest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
SK: Immigrating to the US in 9th grade and having to learn English. (If you find any of my high school classmates, I bet they’ll remember me as “that guy who didn’t speak English.”)
JL: That’s tough, but filling out this questionnaire is in my top 200.
How did you find a redemptive relationship with Jesus Christ?
SK: I didn’t. Rather, God pulled me into that relationship all by himself, starting with a friend in first grade inviting me to Sunday school all the way to making me realize, during a retreat in my senior year in high school, that He, the King of kings and Lord of lords, knows an insignificant creature like me by name and loves me still.
JL: I grew up believing in Jesus but in 7th grade, through my youth group, at a rally, I committed my life to Christ.
How have you changed/grown as a result of your walk with the Lord?
SK: I’m learning gradually that God is working out his plans to restore this broken world through his people – like my brothers and sisters at ODPC – however flawed we may be, and that He has always been, always is and will always be, good to me in every circumstance of my life even if they don’t appear so from my limited perspective or feel so to my unbelieving heart. I think learning these and learning to live in light of these is a part of growing in Christ.
JL: My entire life has meaning, purpose, security and joy.
How do you sustain your spiritual life?
SK: As Eugene Peterson put it, through “scriptureprayer.” I read the Bible in the morning and pray, and try to always read and think on the Bible, its message, and its implications.
JL: Reading the Word, serving at church, meeting with fellow believers, listening to sermons while I drive.
How long have you attended ODPC?
SK: A bit over 19 years, since October 1996.
JL: 12 years.
What is your favorite thing about ODPC?
SK: All the servants, whether in official leadership or not. They serve, not craving recognition and not creating divisions out of selfish ambitions.
JL: The people, the people and the people. And free wifi.
What is the greatest challenge facing ODPC?
SK: Properly stewarding all the blessings, be they money, time or talents. So that we’d stop lavishing so much of what God gave us just on ourselves but start lavishing them on those around us in the name of Jesus. So they too would come to see that God in Jesus is good, put their trust in him, and in turn share their blessings with the others.
JL: Staying connected and abiding in Christ, where it’s just you and Jesus in a small room, even though the world would expect and demand you to do the opposite.
What do you see as your calling in serving as an elder?
SK: To serve everyone – starting from other elders and pastors to deacons to servants to members to attendees – by gently, clearly and persistently pointing towards what God has been and is doing still in this world as revealed in the Scriptures
JL: To love and care for our church family above myself.