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Immigrant worshiping communities help revitalize the PC(USA)

June 17, 2014

New immigrant ministries are flourishing and producing leaders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), leaders of the denominational efforts say.

“We have grown while other parts of the church are declining,” Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, said Monday during the New Immigrants and Emerging Ministries Luncheon at the 221st General Assembly (2014).

Sun Bai Kim, associate for Korean Emerging Ministries for PMA, said there are more than 400 Korean congregations in the PC(USA) and his office has set a goal to increase that number to 500.

The fastest growing new immigrant Asian ministries are among Burmese, Indonesian and Chinese people, reported Mei Hui Lai, PMA associate for Asian Congregational Support. These immigrants arrive in the United States with many needs and often without immigration documents. “The church is a place for them to find care and strength,” she said.

Lai also suggested the church could better serve second- and third-generation Asian Americans by developing Christian education programs in English and by organizing English-speaking Asian worshiping communities.

Magdy B. Girgis, PMA field staff for Middle Eastern Emerging Ministries, said his office is trying to start new worshiping communities among the growing numbers of immigrants from Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries that have been torn by conflicts.

“We’ve had an influx of immigrants from the Middle East,” he said. “That area is not stable. We need to be ready. People are coming seeking a safe and secure place and they want to worship the Lord.”

Kim reported that a ruling elder in the Korean Presbyterian Church of Metro Detroit has helped revitalize a dying African-American congregation. Seungwon Yu, pastor of the Korean congregation, told how one of his elders, Kimo Kim, felt called to gather resources and train leaders to keep the predominantly African-American United Church of Highland Park from closing.

Thinking creatively, Kimo Kim helped the Highland Park church start growing by reaching out to new African immigrants. The church’s recently organized Sunday school program serves 40–50 children.

Samuel Atiemo, PMA associate for African Emerging Ministries, said African immigrants are taking leadership in the PC(USA). He introduced Nana-Yaa Gyssi, who is originally from Ghana and is a commissioner from Newark Presbytery to the 221st General Assembly. Hunter recognized several other people from new immigrant communities who are serving as commissioners to this year’s Assembly.

“This is now our time to do mission in the United States of America,” Hunter said. “You have the opportunity to make an impact on the PC(USA). Don’t take that lightly.”

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