By Hwapyoung Kang
I am Hwapyoung Kang, the first native South Korean senior pastor to serve the Gilroy United Methodist Church, which was established in Gilroy in 1853. I believe I can now say that I am a 2.5-year-old Korean-Gilroyan, because I have experienced the taste of our garlic ice cream from volunteering at the 2018 Gilroy Garlic Festival.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” (Matthew 2:1-2, NRSV)
As the wise men from the East followed the star, so did I follow my star from South Korea, my calling to be a pastor. Thankfully, since July 2018, I have served the church as a pastor in the United States. I believe that the wise men’s journey from the East to Bethlehem was not easy. They faced many unknowns and uncertainties. But they were not alone. They were together. So, strongly they followed the star! My journey to be a pastor as a Korean in the United States is filled with many challenges: language barriers, cultural differences, etc. However, with the help of our awesome church members, I become a better pastor every Sunday. Not only bravely, but also joyfully, we follow the star, while creating many wonderful stories in our faith journey.
What do you see at night? What I see is not the darkness, but the stars. In the past two years, including this year in Gilroy, we have suffered tragedy in many ways: for example, the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, wildfires and the Covid-19 pandemic this year. Even though there is darkness at night, I can still see the stars. Together we follow the stars beyond many challenges and many unknowns. What star do you see and follow in this holiday season?