I sent an email to a friend saying “I’m elated about this,” after reading this story. Jin Kim, the pastor of Church of All Nations in Minneapolis is running for moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly this summer. I remember hearing Kim preach at the 2004 General Assembly in Richmond, VA, when I was there as a youth delegate. As in his work at Church of All Nations, his sermon at GA addressed America’s “original sin” of racism and critiqued the church’s complicity with it. Having heard Kim speak at other conferences since then, I have a deep respect for him and am confident in his ability to lead the PC(USA) in the coming years. I don’t know who else will show up in the running for Moderator, but I don’t hesitate in saying that I think Jin Kim is a great candidate.
I also can’t help but think that it’s perfect timing for Kim to run: Like Bruce Reyes-Chow who was the home-town favorite in San Jose two years ago, Kim will be running for moderator at the GA in Minneapolis, where he currently ministers. More importantly, this is the year the Assembly will consider adding the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions. Belhar was written by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church (DRMC) in South Africa – the church that was founded by the Dutch Reformed Church for the purpose of segregation. The DRMC was created for “coloureds”, or people of mixed-race who wouldn’t fit into the legal categories of Black and White in South Africa. Similarly, the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa (DRCA) was founded for Black South Africans. Belhar, with its explicit call for reconciliation across race and class lines, was useful in uniting the DRMC and the DRCA, but the white Dutch Reformed Church refuses to adopt it. For the PC(USA) to adopt it as one of our confessions this year would (1) be a powerful sign addressing the racial division still present in America, and (2) potentially shame the Dutch Reformed Church into taking the call to reconciliation more seriously. A pastor who’s dedicated his life in ministry to racial reconciliation and multicultural ministry would be ideal to lead the PC(USA) through adoption of Belhar.