What We Want to Know About Preacher Won and Mee Young

Why did you  become a preacher?

I did not want to be a preacher.  In my twenties I wanted to be a high official in South Korean government. I never wanted to be a preacher. I pursued my dream to be a high officer in Korean government.  I passed the very competitive exam, but I failed at the final interview because I believed in democracy under the dictatorial system in 1985.

God called me to be a preacher while I was praying on a mountain. That was not my happy moment. But I surrendered myself to God and registered in the Presbyterian Seminary in Korea.  However, after three months I had to drop out of the school because there was no class due to the demonstration against the Dean of the Seminary. I worked for the power company for seven years. But I couldn’t resist the call to be a preacher anymore.

Then, why did you come to the U.S.A. to be a preacher?

For two reasons, first I am the last one to come to the U.S.A. in my family. My mother and all my brothers and sisters were already in the U.S.A. Second, my younger brother, who was a second year student at Duke Divinity School, invited me to study at Duke instead of in South Korea.

How has it been for you to serve as a preacher?

Overall, it has been a great joy. We have been so blessed with wonderful friends and church families wherever we served. Mee Young and I have been in ministry for twenty-six years. By the grace of God wherever Mee Young and I have served, we have seen the churches grow. We have served five different churches, and we have been involved in capital building projects five times!

There is a saying among the clergy, that if we get involved three times in a capital building projects, we are guaranteed to go to heaven.  Based on that, Mee Young and I don’t doubt about out place when we die.

What makes Erwin United Methodist Church special to you and Mee Young?

Erwin has a very special meaning to Mee Young and me. When I started out ministry almost 25 years ago, I started out at Parker’s Grove United Methodist Church in Linden. That church was merged into Erwin United Methodist Church. We feel like coming home! It’s a full circle. I heard great things about Erwin United Methodist Church when I was a pastor at Parker’s Grove United Methodist Church. It’s God’s doing. I see the invisible hands of God upon Mee Young and me, and Erwin United Methodist Church.

What do you see now and in the future of the United Methodist Church?

This is a very strange, challenging time. This is unprecedented in human history. We are in a perfect storm. COVID-19 has changed our lives. Social unrest; such as racism, police brutality, Black Lives Matter movement, upcoming elections, etc., have disturbed social order and our routines. This is uncharted territory. On top of these commotions, as a United Methodist, we face huge denominational challenges over human sexuality. Again, we are in a perfect storm!

Then, what do we need to do or to be?

We need to remain calm and stay calm. We need to have prayerful discernment as a congregation. We need to know where we came from, who we are, what God wants us to be or to do, who our neighbor is. This requires intentional, divine guidance. We need to pray!

Tell us about your family and education.

Mee Young and I have been married for 33 years. We have two children, Hyun, who is 32, and Wook, who is 31. Our daughter, Hyun, expects to have a baby in September. Her husband, Simon, is a Swedish man. Our son, Wook, will get married on October 10th this year.

I went to Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea for my Bachelor’s Degree, Duke Divinity School for Master of Divinity, then Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. for Doctor of Ministry.

Anything else to share?

Mee Young and I love to visit people, pray for our church families, take a walk, and enjoy dinner with you. Just give me a call to talk to us!