Reverend John Chae is the new pastor of the Mercer Island United Methodist Church, which has around 100 members and represents various ethnicities including Chinese, African and Japanese. Chae is a graduate of Garrett Theological Seminary, near Chicago, and resides in Kirkland with his wife, Regina, a social worker. The couple has three grown children.
Where are you from: Seoul, Korea. I came to the U.S. in 1980; the main purpose was to study more at graduate college and theological school.
Why did you accept the pastor’s position: It’s God’s timing for this church — new leadership and a new leadership style. The Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church: it is a process of discernment for God’s timing and church setting, so through that process I came to this church … appointed by Bishop Grant Hagiya.
What other churches have you pastored: I was appointed to a Green Bay-area small church, my first appointment in an English-speaking congregation … and then after that, was appointed to the Seattle area (Haller Lake United Methodist Church).
What is the best part of your job: Visitation. Counseling and sharing about life situations, and guidance; stay with them, and pray with them — (those) who are in need, who have problems and stressful situations.
What is the most challenging part of your job: Build up the relationship and trust as the new pastor.
What plans does MI United Methodist have for the future: The church must be connected with the community … so we try our best to connect with people’s life. How can we reach out to the young people, and continue to work in that area. Right this moment many people are hurt — from depression, (from) their past history. So the church must be a healing place to touch the wounded, encourage each other to share stories, and then we can sense this is community as we share. We organize a dinner once a month and get together at some people’s homes and talk, share about their story, as we eat together. The main thing is: the church is not an isolated place and continues to be an open door, open to the people … with God’s guidance and God’s presence, we can do God’s ministry.
Is there anything in particular you want Mercer Islanders to know: Once a month, we have a parents’ night out program; parents need rest, and send their kids to church, and then for three hours we provide some food, storytelling, a movie and lots of activity; so people in Mercer Island, especially parents who have little kids, please come and visit.
What do you think about Mercer Island: This Island is beautiful, a nice community, clean, with very warm and gentle people. I can see a passion to build up this community in a good way, so we can work together.