“I feel a kind of urgent need to rekindle our sense of calling and passion in Christian identity and ministry.”

Primary Media
Portrait: Sundo Hyun
  • Where: Radville, Saskatchewan
  • Current Ministry: Congregational
  • Years in Ministry: 3 years in The United Church of Canada

How and when did you know you were called to ministry?

I grew up in a family with strong Christian background. My grandpa and two uncles were Methodist ministers, and my parents have been active members of a Presbyterian congregation. I knew what “pastors” look like and what it’s about, but didn’t consider myself becoming one. Instead, I wanted to be a teacher or social worker. While in university, though, I had gone through a kind of conversions or major changes in my understanding of Christian faith and life, moving away from my once individualistic and otherworldly oriented spirituality toward prophetic Christian activism and progressive theological perspective through my involvement in the Student Christian Movement (SCM). After some personal struggles and critical self-reflection during my last period of university, I found myself drawn to think seriously of studying theology and becoming a minister who may strive to transform oneself and work with others to make differences in personal lives and community. When I expressed my interest in entering theological seminary, my parents said they were very happy to hear that because they had been praying that I may become a minister one day.

Why did you pursue ministry in The United Church of Canada?

My learning experiences at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon encouraged me to think of continuing my ministry vocation in The United Church of Canada. I found the United Church’s efforts for becoming an affirming and intercultural community and for social justice and peace and environmental justice quite resonates with my own understanding of Christian ministry. I also appreciate the United Church’s beliefs in the radical inclusiveness of God’s love and grace affirming sexual minorities and opening the communion table to all people regardless of their conditions like baptism, age, faith, and other background.

What has been the greatest part of entering ministry?

I find it is a great privilege to be invited to people’s lives as their minister getting to know each other, hearing their life stories, and engaging with them especially in their significant moments of life, such as baptism, confirmation, marriage, and dying. I find myself being humble and learning from them wisdom and compassion as I join them in their moments of joy, gratitude, and sorrow.

What has been your biggest challenge in ministry?

First of all, as a minister admitted from other denomination and from a non-Western country, I’m conscious of differences in culture, tradition, and context. I continue to learn from mistakes, interactions with others, and self-reflections. I also share concerns with the whole denomination as many United Church congregations are struggling with declining membership and resources and getting used to survival mode. I feel a kind of urgent need to rekindle our sense of calling and passion in Christian identity and ministry. It is a big challenge to find constructive ways to restore our passion and try some innovative changes in ministry.

If someone said they wanted to be a minister, what would you tell them?

I’d love to have a talk with the person sharing with each other our own stories including what I said above about “the greatest part” and “biggest challenge” in ministry. I’d also tell them, “If you have a sense of calling and passion, and any gifts and convictions to share with others in this challenging and changing time, no worry about other stuff like paperwork, interviews, or academic requirements. You’re halfway there already!”