Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Full Day One in the Diocese of Seoul

It is always life-giving and eye opening to be back in the Province of Korea, and today was no exception.

Breakfast with the Reverend Peter Jun-Gi Choi, Provincial Secretary, and the Rev. Kyrie Kim, former Interim Provincial Secretary who is transitioning to work in New York with Trinity Wall Street. I met Kyrie on my first trip to Korea in 2011 and am grateful for the many times I have been able to visit with her on my trips to Korea. We talked about changing demographics in the US and the need for culturally competent clergy as well as the challenges of this work. We also talked about the work of the Provincial Secretary.

No trip to Seoul is complete without a stop at Grace Cafe for hot citron tea! Cafe Grace — a ministry of the Women’s Mission for the Province of Korea. This ministry was started by the Girls Friendly Society, if memory (and my cup!) serves. It was designed to help women who have come from North Korea  as refugees build skills and new lives. I remember meeting with the GFS group in the old cathedral office building in 2011 — where they introduced me to Cafe Grace. Turns out my next trip of the day was to the Women’s Mission Center — the women who, through GFS developed Cafe Grace. You can read about it here:

We were taken over to the Women’s Mission Center just a few kilometer’s away from the Cathedral. This Women’s center was opened in 2016. This project began in 1993 when Ruth YangSoon Choi started the committee. In 1995 the committee organized to fundraisers for the money to build the center. The Women’s Mission Center is the headquarters of women’s ministry for the Province. Their focus is on education and leadership for women. Also there are educational opportunities for couples. They are expanding to work with all ages from teenagers thru retired women.  The Center advocates for  gender equality and gender justice, especially among women who are most vulnerable to injustice and inequality. The Rev. Hannah Hahn is the Chaplain and Program Director. Ruth YangSoon Choi is the Executive Director. The Center also offers opportunities for retreats and programming for women.

As has been my custom since my first trip to Korea, I spend time with the women clergy. In the Diocese of Seoul (and actually throughout the Province), because this is the week of “switches” — where clergy are moved from one position to another, those being moved to different posts were in the process of moving — literally. They finished wherever they were formerly deployed last Sunday and this Sunday they start in a new location. This often requires a physical move! I was able to have lunch with Hannah (who isn’t being switched!) and Elizabeth WooWhee Nahm who finished serving at St. Francis — a church which has a strong ministry to migrant workers (I had the privilege of visiting that parish and talking with some of the migrant workers on one of my earlier trips to the Province of Korea). Elizabeth will begin working at the Church of Korea Publishing Company.
Before she became a priest Elizabeth was a book editor. It was a joy to speak with the two of them, catch up with what they are up to, and to talk about the challenges of being a woman priest.

After a short rest we met with the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, Bishop of Seoul, and the Dean of the Cathedral, Joseph Joo. We spent time talking about challenges of ministry in the Diocese of Seoul. There are 60 churches in the diocese, which keeps the Bishop busy. The Cathedral congregation is growing, with a larger number of young people attending. The Bishop was very thankful for the program we have offered in terms of training of clergy in Clinical Pastoral Education — it has born fruit in the Diocese of Seoul. After our meeting we went and had dinner together, and of course I forgot to take a photo of us all together! Ugh.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Diocese of DaeJeon

Started out early on the train to DaeJeon. It's nice to be back on a train again, traveling through the countryside!

We were met by members of the clergy including the Bishop at the train station. It was a sea of collars as we came up from the platform.

Debbie David, Bishop Moses, Aidan Koh and a few members of the Diocesan clergy went to talk to two sets of school officials for the day. 

Ron David and I headed over with some of the clergy to the Cathedral Center for the diocese. There we addressed members of the clergy for a talk. Here is Ada, who was one of our CPE program clergy, translating for Ron.

We then headed over to lunch and the women clergy and I gathered together. We then went out for a cup of coffee.

I also was able to see Francis -- who was with us for a number of units of CPE.

There is a marked contract between the Diocese of Seoul and the Diocese of DaeJeon. While both do incredible work, DaeJeon has fewer resources than Seoul. 

Bishop Moses began two "sharing houses" -- one for boys, one for girls. The boys and girls live in them for any where from 3 months to a year, possibly more. These are school for children that have had a family crisis at home and have "given up" or are having problems attending regular school. Some have been bullied. Regardless, there is a warm atmosphere in these two houses. Approximately 15 students live in each one at any given time. They range in age from 13 to 18 years old. We were happy to meet them. 

We also visited a homeless shelter for men run by the Diocese -- another great example of outreach and care in the Diocese of DaeJeon.

We had dinner together before returning to the train.

 And, just as he did in the morning, the Bishop was there to greet us and send us on our way. 

We were all tired but very happy to be there! Now -- to figure out how we can help the Diocese of DaeJeon....

Friday, September 2, 2016

Nuevo Amanecer

I've spent the past week in North Carolina -- the purpose of my trip was threefold:

1. To see my good friend from the Church Pension Group Board Martha Alexander in Charlotte and go to church with her before heading out to Hendersonville/Kanuga,
2. To work with the most talented group of people on a project which will result in a book (we refer to ourselves as the "dream team" -- after this past weekend it fits!), and
3. To attend Nuevo Amanecer -- a biennial gathering of Episcopalians and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), both lay and ordained, who work in/live in/love Hispanic/Latino ministry.

It seemed that one thing flowed so beautifully and naturally into the other. It was as if I had planned it that way (although I didn't) -- that it would be as wonderful and life giving as it was and will be as I continue to unpack the last week.

It began by flying into Charlotte on Saturday between storms. Yes, really. We made it to the gate right before they stopped planes from landing and taking off until the thunder storm passed. I rented a car and then the real fun began. I hadn't driven in the combination of heavy thunderstorms and very high temperatures which cause your windshield to fog up badly enough that you can't see in quite a while. It was over 90 out, and I quickly discovered that having the air conditioning on during a bad thunder storm was, well, not smart. I made it to the hotel in Charlotte after white-knuckling it over there and settled in for a night of reading and writing. What a great gift that time was to me!

The next day I attended the 8:30 service at Christ Church in Charlotte. They were on their summer schedule. It is a beautiful church which during the non-summer months offers 6 services each Sunday. I got there early, sat in the back and enjoyed the quiet time to pray before people began coming into the sanctuary. I rarely have this kind of time in a church any more. I used to go into the sanctuary of St. Clement's when I was rector there just to sit and pray -- it was a beatutiful, peaceful time. So was Sunday Morning!

My friend Martha told me after services that the number of members is about 4,000. I can understand why. The church is connected to the community. It is reflected in their buildings and in the welcome you receive. They have many and varied educational and group offerings, catered to all ages and walks of life. After the services the clergy and laity (assigned greeters) welcomed newcomers and showed them around the buildings and talked to them for quite a while. I was impressed! The buildings and grounds are beautiful -- but more, the work done there is gospel work. Martha years ago started a bookstore/gift shop at the church which has grown over the years. I met one of the managers as I walked through the gift shop -- they donate 100% of their profit each year to local social service agencies in Charlotte -- which totaled $109,000 last year. What a gift! And yes, they have Pokemon there!

I hugged my friend Martha goodbye after she treated me to lunch and a tour or Charlotte (talk about Southern hospitality), and I headed to Hendersonville. Part of the reason I fly into Charlotte and drive over to Kanuga (about 1 1/2 hour drive) is that it is cheaper to fly into there than to Asheville, they have more direct and varied flights than Asheville and Greenville, and the drive itself (BEAUTIFUL!) helps me "separate" from the rush of my life in the diocese and transition to a peace-filled center. I found the one NPR station I can listen to while driving all the way -- although sometimes to maintain the "peace" I will turn it off!

I met up with the "dream team" Sunday afternoon  and we started our work on our project. I won't reveal the content, but let me say that as a bishop who oversees multicultural ministry, I am excited by this work and by the care and commitment of this talented group! Here we are with Nancy Frausto taking group selfie.

The next day we spent most of the day continuing the work we began the night before -- listening to the work we have each undertaken over the last few months. I am so impressed by the members of this "dream team"! The depth of their life experience, combined with their research and theological reflection is rich and is a gift to our church. I hope when our work is done you will think so as well.

Monday evening we all headed over to Kanuga to "sign in" for the gathering. There were over 460 brothers and sisters in Christ who gathered for this event! Yes, you read that right. Most were from the Episcopal Church, the rest from the ELCA.

The opening welcome and Eucharist were wonderful. This was made especially great because five bishops attended the opening evening: myself, Porter Taylor, Marianne Budde, Rob Skirving and Allen Shin. Two years ago three bishops attended. This year, five. Perhaps in 2018 there will be ten? Okay -- that's my pitch. This is a life-giving, love-sharing, gospel-message-driven gathering of the faithful involved in this ministry. Let's support it!

The plenary sessions and workshops were chock-full of helpful information. People were energized! Our clergy and laity who came commented enthusiastically about the gathering, the offerings, the networking -- it was a boost for them and their ministries. Here's our own Nancy Frausto leading a workshop! I heard from members of the "team" from Los Angeles who came that the workshops were extremely worthwhile and diverse enough that they were able to split up and learn, then come back together and share what they had learned. Exactly what I hoped and prayed for!

I had the great honor and privilege of being on a panel: LGBTQ+ people and the Church. The depth of sharing from all the members and the conversation we were able to have was remarkable in the short amount of time we had to present (about an hour and fifteen minutes). Two priests, one seminarian, a lay person and me. Humbling yet much-needed work, indeed.

I was especially proud of the members of the Diocese of Los Angeles who attended. The Diocese of New York sent 30 -- we were represented by 14 (Anthony Guillén being the "jefe extraordinaire). Part of the problem is the cost of the airfare and getting all that time off of work for the laity. We gathered for an LA group photo, but alas Anthony was "directing traffic" after the larger group photo and couldn't join us.

I'm humbled by the work God has given me to do. I'm more humbled by the commitment and hard work of our clergy and laity. We are very blessed to have them in our diocese!

Last but not least, I want to thank the Rev. Anthony Guillén for work as The Episcopal Church Missioner for Hispanic/Latino ministry. He assembled a team of people among which work was distributed -- for as large as this gathering was, he was present and pastoral throughout the event -- as were every member of the team. Job well done!

I can't wait for 2018!!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Day 47: Back to Edinburgh

Woke to a cold and wet morning in Durham. During the night I could hear the clock at either the cathedral or the castle -- I'm not sure which -- chime. Beautiful!

We had a hot, delicious breakfast which warmed us up and got us ready for our trip back to Edinburgh. But first a walk in Durham:

We said goodbye to our B and B:

We headed out to the train station --

And after the just shy of two hour trim ride we were back in Edinburgh!

We dropped our bags off at Kew House and headed out.

I loved this window: be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons:

Md more interesting scenes from our walk--

And yes we found the Orvis store -- 

We met Matthew Davies for tea at a place called Tigerlily. Matt is an Episcopal church staff person who resides in Edinburgh with his family. He is kind and is a wealth of knowledge -- he gave us a wonderful suggestion for dinner! He also is a really nice man. It was great to spend some time with him.

We headed out again and continued our walk in the city: 

These closes were one of Steve's favorite things about Edinburgh the last time we were here:

We had an early dinner at Ondine -- delicious!

On the way back to the B and B we passed two interesting storefronts:

I like the 'we curry' at the bottom of the sign!

Back and packing. And re-packing!

I can't believe it's about to be over but at the same time I'm happy to be heading home.

Total steps: 14,083. 5.45 miles.