Beomseon Hong, formerly of South Korea, has been named the new pastor for the Centenary United Methodist Church in Louisiana and the Clarksville United Methodist Church.
“It is my privilege to be a pastor,” Hong said. “I am from South Korea,” he added. He arrived in the U.S. in August 2011 for his studies in New Jersey.
“I have dedicated my life to be a United Methodist pastor,” he said. As a Korean, it is very meaningful to be involved with United Methodist because the first church in Korea was built by a Methodist missionary from the U.S.—Henry Gerhard Appenzeller. I graduated from the same school from which he graduated. Methodist is the root of my faith. The good news of Jesus was spread out to Korea from this missionary. The seed of Gospel reached me.” Because of this Hong wanted to give back to the country that brought the word of Jesus to him in Korea.
“After graduation, I was seeking an appointment to serve the church. However, there wasn’t chance for an appointment in New Jersey because there were so many candidates and seminarians compared with the number of churches.”
At first, Hong said he was disappointed, depressed and doubted about God’s plan for him.
“I looked for another opportunity. I prayed, ‘Lord. I believe you have plan for me, wherever it is, I’ll go there.”
In March 18, the Missouri conference contacted him about their decision to appoint him to the churches in Louisiana and Clarksville.
“That is the day which my daughter was born,” he said. Several other offers came in after that, but he had promised God to take the first place that offered a position for him.
After moving to Louisiana in June Hong said his first impression was, “This town has so many churches! It feels as though this town is built on the solid Christian faith. My second impression is the kindness of the people. In past few weeks, I have met some of my neighbors. I appreciate their kindness and warm hearts. People here know each other well, and they care each other. For me, it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen this kind of aspect. When I was young, neighbors were true neighbors, but as time went by, it became just the person next to my house. Life of Louisiana brought me the meaning of neighborhood again. A memory, which I had almost forgotten.”
Hong said his biggest challenge would be his skill with the English language. This will be his first time living with only English-speaking people. In New Jersey, he lived in Korea Town.
“However, it is not just simply about language,” he said, “because I believe that the language contains the culture and the background (of the people). As the accent and expression is different between New Jersey and Missouri, I believe culture also would be different between the two states. That means I need to learn not only the language, but the culture, as well. I am so very glad to have the opportunity to be a part of this community. And I hope the people here learn from me, as well. Also, expect God’s plan for us!”