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Judith Kim

Photo courtesy of Judith Kim

Judith Kim

I Am United Methodist: Judith Kim, Kaneohe, Hawaii

by Barbara Dunlap-Berg
November - December 2015

Judith Margaret Kim grew up in the British Methodist Church, where her father was a minister.

"Life started in the Shetland Isles [of Scotland]," she recalls, "and then we moved to England."

As an adult, Kim was active in the Presbyterian Church. However, she missed her Methodist heritage. "I joined Parker United Methodist Church in Kaneohe, Hawaii, almost five years ago," she says. "I wanted to get back to my roots, and the church is not far from my house."

Kim loves the diversity of The United Methodist Church.

"In Hawaii," she explains, "The United Methodist Church is very diverse ethnically. We all have different traditions and ways of doing things. It is great to learn from each other."

A variety of local church activities gives Kim many such learning opportunities.

"I am involved in just about every aspect of our local congregation," she says. "I teach Sunday school twice a quarter. As worship chair, I have been involved in planning worship. I sometimes sing with the choir, and act as liturgist as needed. I just finished the lay servant classes. I will be staff/parish relations committee chair next year. I am not quite sure how that happened!"

But it is not just the day-to-day church activities that capture Kim's attention.

"I am an artist, mostly watercolor," she says. "I make cards from my paintings and sell them to make money for a program we have to help the homeless.

"The church has a yearly craft fair and a dinner for clients of Hawaii State Hospital. This is a great time when we all work together. We have a thrift store, too. This is a great place to meet members of the community."

Kim also volunteers with hospice and a local elementary school, assisting with art projects and reading.

She appreciates that The United Methodist Church considers laity integral to its mission and encourages laypeople to get involved. She would like to explore online Bible studies and discussions of important issues such as death and dying.

The Syrian refugee situation weighs heavily on her mind and her heart.

"As a people of God," Kim asks, "how do we reach out in a world where the news tries to scare us into thinking that [other people's] religion is evil, and therefore, we must fear them?"

How does Kim envision The United Methodist Church of the future?

"My hope is that The United Methodist Church will continue and grow," she says. "Through the Internet, we have the capability to connect with Methodists throughout the world. I love it when I read The Upper Room and the devotion is by someone in another country. It makes the world feel so small."

She is thankful to give back to her church.

"I have been so blessed in my life," Kim says, "that the natural response has been to give back, and when we give of ourselves, blessings abound."

Barbara Dunlap-Berg is general church content editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tennessee.

"I am United Methodist" is a regular Interpreter feature profiling interesting United Methodists from around the world who actively live their faith in their communities, through their work or as leaders in their congregations. Know someone we might profile? Send the person's name, email address, telephone number and a brief (50-100 words) description of what makes the person "interesting" to you to