Chinese-language pastor makes history

Grace Kim didn’t realize she would be the first woman in Canada ordained as a Mennonite Brethren pastor. “It’s solely God. I didn’t plan this,” she says.

She was recommended by her church and accepted for ordination. “I’m honoured that the Mennonite Brethren were willing to take a risk. And I’m thankful to my church,” she says. “I’m happy for all MB female pastors.”

Reflecting on the importance of ordination in Chinese-speaking churches, Kim says, “I’m doing the same ministry. But for some people in church work, not to be ordained is sometimes seen as a lack.”

Her place of ministry is historic. Kim’s church is Vancouver Pacific Grace, once a local mission outreach, and B.C.’s first Mennonite Brethren Chinese-language church plant. It’s now the model for eight other Pacific Grace churches in Greater Vancouver. So it seems fitting that the first woman to be ordained as an MB pastor is ministering where she is.

Kim’s story started thousands of miles away. She grew up in Korea, and as a young woman sensed a call of God to minister to Chinese people. After pastoring in Korea, she came to Canada in 2004, eventually joining Vancouver Pacific Grace’s pastoral staff. She sees God’s hand in her position: most new Chinese-language immigrants to Canada don’t speak Cantonese, but Mandarin, her second language.

Guests at the March 30 ordination service heard how pastor Grace led some 30 people to faith in the last three years. Robert Friesen of the B.C. conference said MBs see ordination “not as a sacrament but as the way the church recognizes the call of God on a believer.”

Vancouver Pacific Grace was full for the Sunday afternoon event. Among the well-wishers were most other MB Chinese language pastors, as well as old and young from Korea, China, Taiwan, and the Lower Mainland. They were there to affirm the gifts and ministry of Grace Kim, the woman ordained to serve, who just happened to be making history that day.

 —Barrie McMaster

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