News And Updates

3-22-21 Update Letter #56 from Pastor Angela Ryo

by Pastor Angela Ryo on March 22, 2021

March 22, 2021
Dear Kirk family,
Last week’s gut-wrenching shootings in Atlanta that left eight people dead, among which seven were Asian Americans, shook our AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community to the core. It certainly wasn’t a surprise because just in the last year, violence against Asians rose by 150% around the country as the misinformation about coronavirus rapidly spread. It hit home hard when I found out that six of the victims were Korean American women—just like me. As the story unfolded, what became evident was that the shooter only saw them as objects that needed to be eliminated rather than human beings--full of stories, dreams, pains and joys--who deserved to be heard, seen and respected. This weighed heavy on my heart and opened old wounds.
As a Korean American immigrant, it was difficult for me escape the double-edged sword of stereotypes pointed at Asians. One side of the blade was the undeniable recognition that we would always be perceived as a perpetual foreigner, an outsider, who can never be fully weaved into the fabric of America. On the other side of the blade rested all the opportunities that had been afforded us because without even saying a single word, we were considered a responsible, hard-working and agreeable “model minority”. While the former cut me open, I believed that I could use the latter to cut through the system and pave my road to success--albeit hunched over to prevent my innards from spilling out.
While the shootings may have happened in Atlanta, we have our Asian American siblings right here in our church, community, and across the street who have been and still are in danger of being cut down by painful and powerful blades of stereotypes and racism as they continue to be blamed, objectified and go unseen and unheard. As a church, I want us to ask the question, “How we can be a place of healing and reconciliation for all those who have been dehumanized and objectified?”
One of the things I love about Jesus’ healing ministry is his commitment to restore the dignity of those who have been long silenced and forgotten by the society. When he calls the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, “daughter”, he’s really saying, “I see you.”; when he tells the paralytic man, “your sins are forgiven”, he’s really saying, “I know your story.”; when he asks the man with the withered hand, “stretch out your hand”, he’s really saying, “I feel your pain.” He says these things to let them know that he sees them, hears them and feels them--restoring their dignity and reclaiming their worth--as part of their healing process.
I hope we can be the church that listens to the stories of those who have been dehumanized by stereotypes and racism; I pray we can be the church that sees those who have been objectified by the media and consumerism; I urge us to be the church that feels the pain of those who have ever experienced hate crimes. May we live into our call to restore and reclaim the worth and dignity of all those who have ever been treated “less-than” due to their race, gender, class and/or orientation.
One of the intentional ways in which we can listen, see, and feel all of the above is to come to our 6-week adult formation series, “Church: Looking Back Going Forward” that starts on April 18 at 12:15 via Zoom. We’ve invited two outstanding Korean American seminary professors, Dr. William Yoo from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, and Dr. Soong-Chan Rah from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, to look back on the history of the Church and look forward to where God is leading us in the future. While they may not be addressing specific issues related to the AAPI community, it’ll be so important to learn from our Korean American professors who can bring us new insights and help us to become the church God has called us to be.
As a church that has been called to envision a world where every heart experiences God’s transforming love, may we surround our AAPI community in love and stand in solidarity with them as we dream together what such a world might look like. And as always, if you are in need of prayer, pastoral care, or a listening ear, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any of our pastors.
As one of your pastors and Korean American woman, I urge you to please take the time to listen to your Asian American friends as you have listened to me, take the time to truly see them as you have seen me, and reach out to feel their pain as you have felt mine.
Blessings and love,
Pastor Angela

Sunday’s worship service was led by some of our incredible teenagers. Youth led the in person and online services by preparing liturgy, creating art and ushering!
On Sunday, youth ministry launched The Oasis, a mindfulness ministry. What a great time we had connecting as a group as well as spending time doing yoga, mindful breathing, and art reflection. Sunday was just the beginning and we can’t wait to see where God guides us!
All the information you need for Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday is in this video. It’ll also tell you about the petting zoo and Easter Egg Hunt! Please watch it and register!

Palm Sunday Musical Moment, we will feature the Chancel Choir, soloists, and Intermediate and Senior Girls’ Choirs performing beloved hymns and anthems for Palm Sunday and Holy Week.

Kirk’s Lenten Art Exhibition is finally here! Our artists are ready for you to come see their artworks on Palm Sunday in person at 11 a.m. in Heritage Hall, where you can also participate in creating a community mural, as well as at 12:15 p.m. via Zoom by clicking here.

Accent Pontiac’s Virtual Winter Showcase was last Friday, March 19. If you missed it, you can still check it out at! All pieces were composed and arranged by Accent Pontiac students. There are still volunteer slots available for providing meals to Accent Pontiac students in April - find more information and sign up here.

Our Kirk Outreach and Mission group prepared to-go boxed dinners for one of our partner organizations in Pontiac, Micah 6. They were delivered yesterday for their evening Sunday service.

Kirk volunteers continue to make 300+ sandwiches a week for the Baldwin Center and pack and deliver food boxes every Thursday for Lighthouse.
Don't forget to bring in those non-perishable food items for our 40 boxes in 40 days Lenten Food Drive! We still have 10 boxes to fill just inside the Welcome Center Doors!

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