On Being A Leading Korean Male In A White Christian Culture

I am cheering on Glen from the Walking Dead. (No spoilers, no worries).

Glen gives me hope. In a bigger sense, outside of the show. More in a societal sense. Ten years ago a leading Korean male on any show of TWD’s caliber would be unthinkable. But we saw the beginnings of it with characters like Sun & Jin on Lost:

Now, Glen, played by Steven Yeun, has proven to us a Korean-American leading male is not only feasible in our culture today, but can gain a very strong and loyal following. Of all the characters alive in a show that kills off its characters quite unceremoniously, Glen is repeatedly the one who shows us that people can get quite attached, and can really rally behind the idea of and cheer on a Korean male lead.

Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but as a Korean-American male, this is encouraging to me. As a Korean-American lead pastor in Houston, TX where most lead pastors are white males, I wonder if I will disappear into the woodwork, go unnoticed, or be relegated to “ethnic church leader” and generally go unnoticed. And it’s not that I’m hungry for attention, but I wonder from time to time if Texas, Houston, my city, my home, society at large, the South… is really ready for somebody like me.

And not as supporting cast either.

The church I am planting has no intention of being an “ethnic” community. I don’t want to be misunderstood a la Hershel as “that oriental pastor.” I want to tap into some of the larger market share around me. I want to be a prophetic voice to a larger culture. I want to plant a church that society recognizes as legit, be a pastor in a legitimately recognized lead role. Is Texas and the South ready?

Well in Glen’s case, Georgia is…

Really, what I am reflecting on is what it means to be a leading Korean male in a white Christian culture. And I think it’s feasible. I think the time is ripe for a church like Woven. That’s why I’ve dedicated the rest of my career to this calling and this place. It makes sense to me. Yes, I think Texas is ready. I think Houston is ready.

So amidst the ups and downs of church planting I am reminded with this thought; am I called? Yes. Am I called to this place for this time? Yes. Is this place ready? I really think, Yes.

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

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