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Asian American Pastor Speaks Only English

Chicago native of Korean descent also knows no martial arts

Category: Church

HOUSTON – The employment of James Kim as youth pastor at Mt. Olive Baptist church here has resulted in some disappointment among church members, but not for the usual pastoral dissatisfaction reasons.

“When I saw that we had hired him, I was so excited,” said church treasurer Lilly Rudd. “I thought we could finally start an outreach to the Chinese and Filipino populations of Houston, but when he opened his mouth I noticed there was no accent at all – even his l’s and r’s were all pronounced right. That’s when I had to ask him if he even spoke Chinese at all. I was completely speechless when he told me he’d never even been outside the US.”

Kim’s great grandparents emigrated from Korea to Northern Illinois in the early 1920’s. Despite persistent ethnic misconceptions from new acquaintances throughout his life, Kim says that he actually knows very little about Asian cultures.

“Well, I went to high school on the north side of Chicago, I root for the Bears,” Kim said. “My dad’s an engineer, not a convenience store owner, and I don’t really know how to cook any special kinds of food.”

But while he may be completely comfortable in his fully Americanized skin, Kim’s ambivalence toward his heritage is causing some problems in his new position. Kurt Eisen, a longtime member of Mt. Olive Baptist who served on the search committee that ultimately hired Kim, says that he feels Kim misrepresented himself.

“We had a lot of good candidates for the job,” Eisen said. “It was a really close race between some really good guys, and the slightest considerations ended up making the difference. While we may not have discussed it directly with him, the committee talked a lot about how great it would be to start some karate outreach programs with the youth group and how it would be cool to do some Kabuki drama skits on Sundays. Now, it looks like none of that is gonna happen. Needless to say, we were quite disappointed.”

Kim seems unfazed by the nonplussed nature of his new employers.

“We’re talking about starting a basketball ministry to reach out to some of the poorer youth in the African American neighborhoods,” he said. “Then we were talking about some kind of Halo 3 party to draw the kids in, but we’ll have to talk about that, because I’m not very good at video games.”

As far as satiating the hunger of church leaders for some eastern flavor from their youth leader, Kim says that there are a few things that may stand him in better stead over time.

“I’ve had acupuncture a couple of times, and I really liked it,” he said. “Oh, plus, I took some violin lessons as a kid, and I’m a really bad driver, so I think I’ll be OK.”

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  1. I say, hooray for this pastor! He is a true example that anyone of any culture can be a real American by sharing our language-and I feel America is going the wrong way as far as allowing foreigners to keep their language (in public and expecting Americans to speak foreign languages speaking to people inside America). It is quite obvious that if foreigners are not “Americanized”, eventual loss of the American culture is at stake-and it is unChristian and inhumane to expect people to give up their culture/language to reverse-assimilate to foreigners who come to live in their country. (CORRECTION TO THE FIRST ONE SENT BY ME TODAY)

  2. this article is incredibly STEREOTYPICAL. just because he is Asian does not mean that he is an expert in martial arts, or that he would know anything about Kabuki drama skits. that is like saying every Caucasian blonde pastor is dumb or every black pastor is good at playing basketball..

  3. […] post was originally published by The Holy Observer here. They are gracious enough to allow us to re-post it on The Talking […]

  4. I’m actually dissapointed to see such a deeply rooted racism that still exists.
    1. I guess Lilly Rudd hasn’t seen many asians before to know the differences between the asian races? Last names go a long way in helping to distinguish (not that there should be a need to distinguish).
    2. Kurt Eisen stated that they wanted to do a Karate program? And they are disappointed why? Because the new asian pastor doesn’t know kung fu? They assumed that kung fu flowed through his inner chi?

  5. I find the disappointment of the leadership of Mt. Olive Baptist church in their pastoral choice in Kim utterly ridiculous and completely racist. It’s laughable that they have pretty much lumped the whole Asian population together in thinking that just because someone has a “Asian face”, they will be able to do Karate, speak Chinese, and master the arts of Kabuki. Hello? Kabuki is not even Chinese–it’s Japanse, and how do they expect a someone with a “Kim” last name to speak Chinese? I highly doubt Pastor Kim “misrepresented” himself in the hiring process; as a matter of fact, it was probably more likely that the ignorance of the hiring committee to Asian cultures blinded their ultimate decision. Next time, they might want to be more forthcoming in making their intentions known to potential candidate and making a fool of themselves in the process.

  6. @Danielle M., How is it “unChristian and inhumane to expect people to give up their culture/language to reverse-assimilate to foreigners”? You have obviously never fully understood the story of Jesus, the son of God, who gave up His throne to fully cloth himself in humanity because He loves us. If that’s not reverse-assimilation in a complete sense, I don’t know what is. Being Christian has everything to do with putting others first and meeting others where they are, and if that means to reach and love another in their culture and language, let it be so.

  7. Are you guys serious? this is a joke. this whole sight is a freaking joke… its FAKE lololololol stop getting so worked up, OF COURSE its RACIST you idiots, its SATIRE.

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