Growing up as an Asian immigrant in Canada and later settling in the U.S., the Rev. Dr. Kevin Park—who immigrated with his family to Toronto from Seoul, South Korea, when he was nine years old—says that his experience profoundly shaped his theology and his outlook on ministry.
Park serves as associate dean for Advanced Professional Studies and assistant professor of Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. He is the author of the “The Nations Will Bring Their Glory,” the fourth paper in the “Theological Conversations” series, which was launched May 24 by the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Office of Theology and Worship.
"I wrote the paper largely sharing my personal stories of experiencing various aspects of marginality growing up as a visible minority in Canada and living in the United States,” says Park. “I believe stories of marginality can contain in them important resources that can inform and shape a theology of marginality that not only describes marginal realities but also point toward hope and transformation.”
The four sets of materials released in 2015—each is a study resource with accompanying conversation questions—are designed to invite congregational leaders in the PC(USA) into theological conversation wherever they gather as sessions, presbyteries or for adult education in congregations.
“Presently in the United States, various events have converged that make us look at race relations with both distress and urgency,” says Park. “I believe that the time has come for the mainline denominations like the PC(USA) to go beyond the rhetorical flourish of ornamental multiculturalism toward participating in the robust biblical vision of God's kingdom, where all nations and ethnicities will bring their glory into it. I believe that actively waiting and participating towards this reality is an essential aspect of Advent."
Prior to assuming his current position at Columbia Seminary, Park was a theology associate in the Office of Theology and Worship, working on a Reformed theology of stewardship and theology in the context of racial ethnic minority communities. He was previously pastor of a multicultural church in Bloomfield, N.J., and assistant director of the Asian American Program at Princeton Theological Seminary.
“Advent invites us to prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas by remembering the future God is working to bring, the fullness of life brought about as Christ comes again,” says the Rev. Barry Ensign-George, associate for Theology in the office of Theology & Worship. “Kevin Park’s wonderful ‘Nations Will Bring Their Glory’ explores that fullness of life as he reflects on deeply personal moments in his own life that were destructive of that fullness. In our deeply divided world, Park shares a vision of the ethnoi (nations) and their glories, brought together. It will help readers enter into Advent as we remember Christ’s arrivals, past and future.”
Click here to download the fourth paper in the “Theological Conversations” series, The Nations Will Bring Their Glory’” by Kevin Park.