translated from Korean to English by Google
Rev. Dongwoo Lee is a pastor and Christian theologian of the Presbytery of San Gabriel Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA). He is a passionate preacher and an excellent communicator. He is pursuing his PhD in Theology and Philosophy at the Claremont School of Theology. He is passionate about interpreting the Word in ways relevant to the lives of believers and contextualizing the living Word of God in a way that is still meaningful in postmodern times so that the saving message of Christ can be experienced with life-changing power. You have. Pastor Lee has pastored several Korean and American churches in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles area. He served as the Associate Pastor at Claremont Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). He most recently served Pasadena Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) as a head associate pastor/Senior Pastor for Korean Language Ministry. The position was designed to serve English, Spanish, and Korean speaking three language ministries under the idea of multi/inter-cultural ministry.
Rev. Dongwoo Lee was born on May 13, 1979 in Seoul. He grew up in a Christian home, loved by his parents. He entered Seoul National University in 1998 where he majored in Economics in the Faculty of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences. He got into the college he wanted so much, but he realized he was pursuing something else. “Then I lost my purpose in life. The moment I thought I had achieved my goal, I was lost. I knew there was something that God wanted me to pursue, but I didn’t know what it was then.” During this time he spent most of his time in the university library and read all the books he could reach. Through those time, Rev. Lee started his intellectual and spiritual awakening, freeing himself from the narrow frame of thought that had been caught during his student days.
Rev. Dongwoo Lee read various books on philosophy and religion around the 3rd year of University years and began to realize how limited his understanding of man and God he had previously had. He realized that the church he attended with his parents from an early age selectively preached the “gospel of prosperity” and ignored the rich Christian traditions and teachings. He left the church and joined the Presbyterian Church, where he began to recognize and experience new aspects of Christianity. “It was an important period in my life. I started to recognized the true meaning of salvation. At that time, I began to earnestly pray and cling to God with asking what your plan for me is?” During this time, he took classes in philosophy and religion at the university, setting a new conceptual framework.
After graduating from Seoul National University, Rev. Dongwoo Lee was selected as a KATUSA soldier and served in the military for two years. This period was the most important period of his life. Rev. Lee was selected as a military chaplain’s assistant and was trained as a pastor by performing pastoral role by helping the chaplain. He provided counseling and pastoral care for KATUSA Soldiers as well as US soldiers. The pastoral role he performed influenced not only American soldiers but also his fellow KATUSA Soldiers for good, and he found himself a good fit. One of his Fellow KATUSA solder introduced him to Miji Kim, now his wife. They both attended the same church, but found out that they had never met. The two, who had a lot in common in terms of faith, continued to love each other as they trust each other more. After completing his military service, Rev. Lee went to Presbyterian Theological University (United Presbyterian Church in Korea) and studied theology. Two years later, he received another bachelor’s degree in theology from the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and then began preparing to study abroad.
In 2008, he moved to the United States and went to San Francisco Theological Seminary. His journey of spiritual awakening continued in San Francisco. “It was a great adventure, a new world, an amazing experience.” Rev. Lee was taught postcolonial theology, constructive theology, philosophy of Organism, liberation theology, and theology of Ecology, which he could not learned in the theological education back his home country. He became acquainted with the new flow of theology and studied passionately. “It was an important time for me to restructure and rebuild my theological frame and my faith.” After completing his Master of Divinity (M.Div) program at San Francisco Theological Seminary, he was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor. In 2013, he entered Claremont School of Theology and started Ph.D. in Religion program, focused on theology and philosophy. He became a co-director of the Institute for Ecological Civilization in Korea.
After coming to Claremont, Rev. Lee became a member of San Gabriel Presbytery and served as a member of COM (Commission on Ministry). For about a year and a half, he served as a chair of the Administrative Commission and moderator of session of Korean Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Rowland Heights, mediating strife within the church and serving the members. During his ministry in that church, he had to grapple with the divided parties in the church. As a designated pulpit supply, Rev. Lee comforted the wounded members and delivered the living message of God. Despite his feelings of antagonism, he sought to be a mediator and reconciler for peace. “I didn’t want to leave them alone in the wilderness who seemed to be sitting helplessly. I wanted to convey the hope of the gospel of Christ to them.” Those times, albeit difficult and challenging, provided opportunities for him to gain persistence, consistency and resilience.
In 2016, Rev. Dongwoo Lee started his ministry as a pastor at Claremont Presbyterian Church. He worked with passion in planning and overseeing the church’s adult education program, providing sermons and sacraments, and building bridges of understanding and collaboration between the four churches that shared the church campus. “I try to get the opportunity to attend the services and programs of the four churches that shared one church campus. I worked to build relationships and to find a common ground where we can be together, and to rejoice in the gospel of Christ together,” he said.
Rev. Dongwoo Lee was called as a Head Associate Pastor/Lead Pastor for Korean Language Ministry at Pasadena Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California, USA, and has been working on multicultural/inter-cultural ministry since 2017. Pasadena Presbyterian Church is a church belonging to the Presbyterian Church (USA), and it is a church that is making a model for multicultural/inter-cultural ministry, which is very rare. Rev. Lee dreamed of a ministry that is more inclusive, respecting and enhancing diversity, and opened to new tries, realizing God-given possibilities.
In 2020, Rev. Dongwoo Lee resigned from the church and has been focusing on his studies at Claremont School of Theology. He achieved an advancement candidacy in the PhD program and has been writing his dissertation. At the same time, Rev. Lee Dong-woo has been working for peace on the Korean Peninsula as a Co-Convener of the Presbyterian Peace Network for Korea (PPNK) affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is also a Director of EcoCiv Korea (www.ecociv.org), where he supports and connects networks and activities of interdisciplinary, local governments and civic groups in the United States and South Korea.
Rev. Dongwoo Lee’s Sermon Podcast
Articles and Interviews with Rev. Dongwoo Lee
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