Retiring Pastor Celebrated

February 12, 2017 | Heidi Baumgartner

Choon and Bung Lee bowed and greeted guests at the front door of Seattle (Wash.) Central Korean Church. They made sure each guest received a friendly smile, handshake and a copy of the printed program.

But the Lees weren’t just church greeters; they were the guests of honor. This gathering was their pastoral retirement celebration.

The Sabbath afternoon program started promptly and featured a Korean worship service praising God with thanksgiving. The focus on God’s providence is purposeful.

“It was God’s grace that led me here and made me what I am today,” Lee said through a translator. “My 33 years of ministry wasn’t always fancy. I knew my knowledge and theology [weren't] always as strong as others, yet God provided.”

Through his ministry and God’s guidance, Lee built up the Korean church community through loving people. He spent time working with young people, serving for a time as a colporteur, planting churches, and pastoring in places such as Los Angeles, Calif.; Vancouver, Wash.; and Seattle, Wash.

“Pastor Lee influenced many people’s lives,” says Doug Bing, Washington Conference president. “He effectively ministered to people one on one. I’ve heard just a sampling of the stories of how he has responded to God’s call. With all the ministry stories in his career, he could write a book. Pastor Lee has a wealth of information and experience.”

More than 200 people — including the Lees' three sons, their daughters-in-law and their grandchildren — attended the two-hour retirement celebration. The program featured musical performances, ministry stories and testimonies punctuated with laughter, a slideshow of family and ministry memories, presentation of gifts, and remarks from guests of honor.

Lee closed the program with a message of gratitude and a call to action: “I ask one thing, brothers and sisters: to join together in following Christ. Keep talking about the Second Coming of Christ. Make this your first priority. It adds meaning and purpose in life. Let us hold the hope of the Second Coming in our hearts.”