The Rev. Dr. Eunbee Ham
Update on Pastor Eunbee:
On September 8th, Davis Community Church voted overwhelmingly to call the Rev. Dr. Eunbee Ham as Associate Pastor/Minister of Spirituality & Engagement. On September 12th, Dr. Ham was presented, examined, and admitted into the Sacramento Presbytery. Because Pastor Eunbee is currently a citizen of South Korea, she will need an R1 Religious Worker visa to begin her ministry at DCC. In preparation, DCC submitted a visa petition on her behalf in early August. Now that the petition is in the hands of USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services), we pray for expeditious processing, though we know that the process can sometimes take many months. We likely will not hear anything more from USCIS until an auditor shows up to determine whether DCC is, in fact, a religious institution, a standard part of the process. Once the audit takes places, Pastor Eunbee should receive her R1 visa within about two months. At that point, she can begin her ministry at DCC. Overall, we expect the entire process to take no more than 12 months, though we certainly hope and pray for a shorter wait time.
In the meantime, we are delighted to share an update from Pastor Eunbee:
Dear Davis Community Church,
I hope this letter finds you well. I see that it is currently 79 degrees and sunny in Davis and wish I could enjoy the sun with you!
Texas has decided to skip fall and go straight into cold, dark, wintery days mottled with summer days along the way. As a result, my basil has shriveled up in shock, while my green onions and parsley look relatively healthy. Sadly, the cilantro and perilla leaves have turned into sallow, angsty adolescents in the cold darkness.
Like my plants, my energy and mood dip in the winter. When it gets cold and dark, the spirit of Eeyore comes on strong, so I force myself to get out to the university library to research and write most of the day. It took a few weeks to create a sustainable research routine. Researching and writing are a lot like exercise, at least in my experience. Showing up is half the battle, and the other half involves persevering until the muscles feel strong enough to return to the challenge with more ease and momentum. At this point, (after several rabbit holes of procrastination and existential angst masked in binge-watching Netflix), I finally feel excited about where my research is going and feel further confirmation from an invitation to contribute to an edited book on childhood and religion. An external deadline will help move the writing along, and I am grateful that my research on children’s development, antiracism, and spiritual formation may serve as a ministry resource at DCC.
Chwi has gotten into a groove with his teaching and finds the work deeply rewarding. I admire the way he attends so faithfully to his students’ diverse learning needs and styles. He has a lot on his plate teaching, presenting at a conference, applying for fellowships, and writing his dissertation.
Aside from work, Chwi and I have been playing ping pong and watching the sunset on the Riverwalk. We make dinner, then I begin my study of Asian chefs on YouTube and Instagram. God bless these chefs that help amateurs recreate authentic Asian cuisine in Waco.
Tangential story. Recently, after my nonstick wok completed its life, I researched the best woks to buy and inadvertently started a serious relationship with a carbon steel wok. For those of you who might not know, seasoning a carbon steel wok is like creating a piece of art. I did not know this until I put four hours of my time seasoning my new wok and felt too invested to let it go. In summary, the wok certainly helps make great food, but seasoning it requires loving the lord your wok with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Just because YouTube chefs recommend it, it is not a light relationship to get into. In any case, this wok has become part of my prayer because I often think of DCC when I cook. I so enjoyed being at the table with many of you and miss our time together. I look forward to the day when I can share my cooking with you.
While our life here in Waco has turned out to be an unexpected but tremendous gift, I am also anxious to be with you all. I am relieved to hear that Davis has been spared from the fires but saddened to hear that so many parts of the state are suffering. I continue to lift DCC and California in my prayers and hope for healing and restoration in the land.
I wish you all a warm and delightful Thanksgiving ahead. May love, gratitude, and peace overflow in your hearts, tables, and relationships, even the ones that are hard to maintain or hard to let go like carbon steel woks.
Blessings to you from Waco,
Dear Davis Community Church,
After our lovely time in Davis, Chwi and I came back to Waco well-nourished with your love and hospitality. That week after, Chwi passed his dissertation prospectus and started to teach his class on Christian Scriptures, while I explored my newfound freedom. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with no deadlines and demands, but I’ve been learning to cherish and savor this time as a gift. I still go to the Riverwalk in the morning, where I let the winds breathe life into my soul and invite the nature to lure me into prayer. My prayers are mostly made up of thanks for all the delightful things that I see, taste and love. I also ask lots of questions and name my hopes, and Davis always comes up in my list of hopes—for the timing of the visa, for God’s love to fill the church and the city, and for all that is in store when I get to be with you all in person.
When I return from the Riverwalk, I tend to my dear little plants, which you will see in the pictures attached. I am becoming one of those proud parents that show you pictures of their babies even though no one asked—my herb babies. 🥬
Then I devote about three hours a day on a writing project that seeks to help churches learn how to engage with children on race and racism informed by developmental psychology, narrative therapy, scripture, and children’s storybooks. I hope to submit the article for publication before the end of the year.
Because we live so far from Asian grocery stores, restaurants, salons, I’ve been making a whole lot of kimchi, learning to cut Chwi’s hair, and I tried to make Pad Kee Mao (Thai drunken noodles) for the first time today. This season has invited me to be more resourceful and creative, digging into dirt, trimming hair, cutting vegetables, creating new dishes. I try to remind myself that any task can be an invitation into and imitation of God’s presence in the world–Eunbee the creator of kimchi and sustainer of Chwi’s hair. It’s a stretch, but I am surprised to sense the sacred in these small things.
Now it’s time for me to make that Pad Kee Mao. I’m thankful to share a slice of my life with you through these words and photos, and I’m grateful for the prayers that connect us together in this time of waiting.
Sending you hugs from Waco,
The Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC) is thrilled to introduce the Rev. Dr. Eunbee Ham as our choice for DCC’s Associate Pastor of Spirituality and Engagement. Pastor Eunbee brings abundant gifts to her ministry, including a wise and grounded presence, an ability to listen deeply and respectfully, a thoughtful curiosity about others and the world, a commitment to being in solidarity with those on the margins, and a loving, progressive, and steadfast faith. In addition, the APNC was struck by Eunbee’s excellent communication skills, warmth, intellect, and her passion for and deep knowledge of issues concerning injustice, privilege, and power. We were impressed with Eunbee’s rich experience working with people of all ages, from varied backgrounds and in different settings; indeed, Eunbee’s grounded, relational presence, combined with her humility and deep compassion, is a true gift. As one of her former colleagues said, “One of her many strengths is her ability to be nimble and healthy in all the worlds in which she is engaged.”
Born in South Korea to missionary parents, Eunbee spent much of her childhood living interculturally, including in the Philippines and Mexico. From a young age, she felt called to ministry and was particularly drawn to caring for “the least of these”. Her experiences living among the poorest of the poor and navigating multiple cultural spaces significantly shaped her ministry as a young adult. For example, Princeton’s Parish Pulpit Ministry Fellowship provided an opportunity for her to pursue a ministry of healing, reconciliation, and empowerment for people and communities in Mozambique, South Africa and Brazil as a missionary and chaplain. More recently, in her doctoral research at Emory University, Eunbee explored how race, ethnicity, culture, gender, and spirituality affect one’s sense of identity and the implications for pastoral counseling. More specifically, she studied identity formation in Korean young adults who grew up in multiple cultures and explored how faith communities can support the formation of healthy and empowering identities in young people.
Eunbee has more than 15 years of pastoral experience, during which she has served in a variety of capacities—preacher, teacher, and counselor. The APNC is especially excited about Eunbee’s experiences working to build and support programs for children, youth, and families, including during her recent role as the Interim Director of Children and Families at Trinity Presbyterian in Atlanta, GA. In another congregation, in which Eunbee sought to revitalize the children’s ministry, a lay leader shared, “Eunbee led this effort with creativity, mobilizing the resources she had available to her, and always consulting teachers and parents to keep everyone in the loop. The end result was wonderful, creative, and refreshing, and brought new life to our ministry.” Impressively, Eunbee also has considerable experience writing Sunday School curricula, bringing alive the Christian gospel in fresh and creative ways while also incorporating important racial and social justice voices. She loves to approach worship through the curious, playful, and joyous experience of children and seeks their participation as learners and teachers in the worshiping life of a faith community.
Her breadth of training and experience means that Eunbee is no stranger to bringing people together around difficult subjects and conversations, including issues of privilege and injustice. A former co-worker explained, “Eunbee’s deep spirituality helps her to be calm during chaos and unafraid to address conflict.” Indeed, in our increasingly pluralistic culture, listening to those who have been traditionally silenced or underrepresented is vital. The APNC is thrilled that DCC will be partnering with such a wise, spiritually grounded, open and courageous pastor.
In her spare time, Pastor Eunbee enjoys trying out new healthy recipes, exploring cafes, taking walks with her husband, Chwi, and spending time in nature.
Associate Pastor Nominating Committee
Jennifer Anderson Begun, Co-Chair Virginia Harris
Marian Derby Sallie Grace Tate
David Duncan Carl Vandagriff, Co-Chair
Dear Davis Community Church,
I cannot express in words my joy, expectation, and gratitude as I prepare to candidate at DCC on the weekend of September 8th! It’s been a long and beautiful journey learning about DCC and exploring the potential for a strong and fruitful partnership. Before I ever interacted with the APNC, I was already intrigued by the thoughtful, bold prophetic imagination articulated in DCC’s Vision2028. What especially stood out was how DCC named its own participation in structures of injustice and sought to actively engage in making God’s love visible in the world. The church’s humility to confess complicity and the courage to embrace daring changes toward greater diversity, sustainability, justice, and peacemaking struck a chord in my heart that resounded with some of my own deeper yearnings for the church in the 21st century.
My curiosity soon turned into excitement as I came to know more about the church through the APNC, Pastor Mary, and Pastor Chris. As we shared many stories, laughter, tears, and hopes, I was moved by the generosity, vulnerability, respect, and care I felt in our times together. Their diligence and dedication to move faithfully with the Spirit converged with my gifts and call, leading us into this next chapter of pastoral partnership.
To share a brief snapshot of my life and ministry experiences, I grew up in South Korea until our family moved to the Philippines and later Mexico as Presbyterian missionaries. From a young age, I witnessed stark differences between poverty and privilege and struggled to make peace with my own pain, loneliness, frequent illnesses, racism, and culture shock as we moved from country to country. During those years, I learned to rely on God. Even if everything else changed—language, culture, friendships—I found that I could rely on God’s steadfast love, provision, and healing. While my relationship with God has gone through many changes as an adult, the indelible memories of those early formative years drew me into ministry. Over fifteen years, I have had the privilege of pastoring people in many different cultures and life stages as a chaplain, therapist, teacher, and pastor. I hope that these ministry experiences can be used to strengthen the body of Christ.
If I am called to serve as the Associate Pastor for Spirituality and Engagement, I would look forward to getting to know you better. As we learn about each other’s gifts, joys, concerns, and hopes, I seek to co-create with you more spaces of nourishment, belonging, and service that make tangible the Spirit’s work in the world. Expanding on the gifts of staff and lay leaders, I wish to serve as a resource to support programs and opportunities where children, youth, and adults can deepen their relationships and love for God and neighbor.
To share a few personal facts about me, I love dogs, delicious healthy recipes, and beautiful interior designs. I love to take walks with my husband, Chwi (pronounced “Chee”), who is currently getting his PhD in Hebrew Bible at Baylor University. We both enjoy exploring cafes where both of us can read and work. To relax, we love spending time in nature as long as we are not submerged in salty water, covered in sand, or swarmed by mosquitos. So maybe we do not truly love all of nature, but we have certainly enjoyed the mountains, forests, and lakes in Georgia.
Anticipating that God is directing all of us into this new partnership, we are now packing and getting ready to leave Atlanta. While we are sad to leave our beloved community here, we are not sad to leave the humidity! We are are very excited to meet you in September, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to offer myself to serve as your Associate Pastor of Spirituality and Engagement. I look forward to all the possibilities that await as the Spirit leads our journeys together in Davis.
With joy and hope,
Pastor Eunbee Ham