By Araya Moss
On June 7, Enoch Lee, pastor of Olympic Korean church, became the first pastor in the Southern California Conference (SCC) to be ordained to the gospel ministry in a virtual setting. Though the pandemic has disrupted our way of life, Lee felt it was important to have an online ceremony.
“Amid all this confusion and separation, the SCC, Olympic Korean church, and I wanted to tell the world that God is working in us and calling us to continue His ministry,” said Lee. “We did not want to stop or cancel what God is calling us to do, even in these times of COVID-19.”
The planning for this unique ceremony included several weeks of spiritual discussions and technical support from conference leadership, followed by several more weeks of recording the different segments of the ceremony. SCC executive officers and Olympic Korean church pastoral staff pre-recorded their sections of the program 10 days before the ordination date. The pastoral staff worked together to shoot and edit the entire video. At the time of recording, churches had been closed for about 70 days.
One special element of the virtual ceremony was that friends and family of Lee sent in congratulatory messages. One friend noted that throughout his ministry, Lee has been a bridge between first- and second-generation Koreans. Because of his empathy, Lee has been able to meet the needs of both generations. Another special moment was when members from Glendale Korean church, where Lee previously pastored, and Olympic Korean church formed a virtual choir to sing “Why Have You Chosen Me?”
The ordination began with John H. Cress, SCC executive secretary, explaining the nature of this virtual ordination from the pulpit of Olympic Korean church. Instead of sending out a hard copy of the program, it was shown on camera against a nature backdrop.
Velino A. Salazar, SCC president, spoke on the theme of being called and the honor of being chosen by God. “God has chosen both men and women—and has sent them from one place to another,” said Salazar. “Sometimes these journeys are not as they understand or expect them to be, but God is always with them on their journey.”
The ministerial charge was given by James Lee, SCC executive vice president. Samuel Lee, SCC Asian-Pacific region director, gave the ordination prayer, during which those on the stage “laid hands” on Enoch Lee and his wife, Jae Lee, from a distance—it was similar to an air hug. Next, Cress presented Enoch Lee with his new credential, certificate, and a Bible.
In his response, Enoch Lee acknowledged how grateful he is to be called into this ministry, adding that we are all called to serve in different ways. “I have been called to service in gospel ministry as a pastor,” he said. “But whoever you are, whatever you do, it doesn’t matter what kind of talent you have received. You are all gospel workers just like me.”