At the Readfield Methodist Church our Christmas gift arrived early. Our new, young, energetic pastor, Myung Eun Park, arrived in July and has been a great gift to all of us.
When I asked her how to pronounce her name, she told me it is “Me — Young.” I said that would be easy for me to remember. “You are Me-Young,” I said, “and I am Me-Old.” She doubled up in laughter. Yes, she has a great sense of humor. And she is always happy and joyful.
Myung grew up in Seoul, South Korea, where her dad is a pastor. She graduated from the Methodist Theological Seminary in Seoul, where she served several churches as a Sunday school teacher and youth group leader. That comes through strongly, as she has brought new energy and enthusiasm to our youth ministries, including a new after-school program for children at Fayette Elementary School. I love seeing her in the vestry before Sunday service, playing with the kids. There is a real joy there.
And when the children gather at the front of the church during the service for the childrens’ time, she’s absolutely wonderful. And as you might expect, more children are now attending our church. Word is spreading about Myung.
Many of Myung’s family members are also pastors, in Washington D.C., Ohio, and South Korea. In an early interview, she reported, “I am deeply grateful for my family. Their prayer life, deep spirituality, loving and compassionate way of treating others has always inspired me. They are living saints and role models for me.”
Well, she has become a role model for us.
Myung also cites the Methodist theology and practice as inspiring, pursuing a balance between social justice and personal piety. I can tell you that her Sunday morning messages are interesting, thought-provoking, and often inspiring.
And oh, she’s brought technology to our services inside and outside the church. She always has slides that accompany her messages, and she posts a lot on Facebook, including our choir singing. I encourage you to become her Facebook friend. My mom, the church organist and choir director at the Winthrop Methodist Church for many years, had me singing in the junior choir at a very young age, and six decades later, I’m still an enthusiastic choir member. I have sometimes said if there was no music at church, I probably wouldn’t attend. But now that Myung has arrived, that is no longer true. Thankfully, she loves music too, and we’re singing more than ever these days.
Recently, I gathered up the extensive collection of hymn and song books that Mom collected, and distributed them to churches, family and friends. She had some really great children’s song books that will now be used at our church. Mom’s music marches on. It has been particularly delightful to sing to the accompaniment of John Twitchell. He can play all the old hymns, just as enthusiastically as my mom.
And that’s another thing that is wonderful in our congregation. It is filled with loving, caring, committed people of faith, all of whom have been newly energized by Myung. We are marching out in every direction, expanding the reach of our services.
The Christmas season is always special, but this year it went up a notch, including the day that children arrived to choose gifts for their parents and others from items donated by church members. The kids didn’t have to pay more than $1 for any item, and church members were there to wrap their gifts, while their parents enjoyed coffee and food in another part of the church. The money raised went to a fund to help people in need.
I invite you to join us some Sunday morning, to see Myung in action. You will enjoy our 10 a.m. service at the Methodist Church in Kents Hill, and maybe stay for a while!
And I probably shouldn’t add this, but our coffee hour after service, featuring tasty food, is pretty awesome too!