The Rev. GaHyung Kim plans to serve to the community through the Sycamore United Methodist Church.
Kim became the new pastor of the church in July and since then has been making connections in the community, from service clubs to public schools. For her, staying in the church’s office at 160 Johnson Ave. is not the way to do ministry and it’s important for her to get to know the people who live in the area.
“I always feel that a pastor is part of the community and not different,” she said. “I try to visit everyone in my church and let them know about becoming disciples. When they become disciples, it is transforming the world.”
Kim joins the Rev. Harlene Harden as the first team of women pastors for the church. The Rev. Bill Landis, the previous pastor, left to work at a Methodist church in Antioch. Kim said pastors within the United Methodist Church are chosen to by Bishop Sally Dyck and a cabinet to lead churches.
But Kim sees herself as having a more humble attitude in her role as a leader for Sycamore United Methodist Church. She may have been ordained by a bishop to become a pastor but the people who help her to become better are the people in her congregation.
“I am very blessed,” she said. “Whatever church I serve ... my attitude is this is my best church, regardless if it’s small or large.”
Harden said Kim has not only been familiarizing herself with the Sycamore community but also members of the rural community in the area. This led her to have a chance to ride a combine with her daughter Rachel, she said. Sycamore is not an entirely new place for her since she served as a pastor for the First United Methodist Church in DeKalb 11 years ago.
“Coming back to Sycamore is like coming back to a hometown again,” she said.
Before serving as a pastor for several Methodist churches in northern Illinois, Kim studied at the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1988 and was ordained the same year. She said she was motivated to lead a “meaningful life” in the U.S. after being exposed to diversity and minority issues that existed there.
She previously learned about minority issues when she spent a year in the early 1980s working as a mission intern for a church in Japan that tried to create peace and reconciliation between Korea and Japan. It was there she learned about hearing “powerless, small voices,” in the community.
“In Japan, I learned about Korean minority issues because during World War II, Korea was occupied by Japan,” she said.
Before interning in Japan, Kim studied psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
SUMC is a “progressive, loving” church that has strong connections to Methodist churches worldwide, Harden said. Everyone from the DeKalb and Sycamore community is welcome to join the estimated 1,200 members, she said.
“Every United Methodist Church that is in this country or abroad [is] connected through our theological beliefs [and] through our mission to make disciples for the transformation of the world,” Harden said.
So far, Kim has been conducting baptisms, funerals and other ceremonies for the church as part of her effort to connect with the community. She offers people prayer, care and connection with God. She also works with members of the church, including its youth, to aid people through mission trips and other charitable efforts.
“Worship is not just about the message only,” she said. “It’s people sharing their gifts and talents.”