While serving as an English-speaking pastor at a Korean congregation, Shawn Kang came to understand the particular struggles of second-generation Korean Americans. When he decided to plant a new congregation in the Houston area, he reached out to young Asian Americans—and Pathways of Houston began.
As a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Kang had a lot of denominational encouragement, but the local governing body didn’t have financial resources to offer, so the small group met in living rooms and coffee shops. Kang’s wife, Sanghee, worked as a nurse and supported the family. “We just scraped it together,” Shawn said. Six to eight people assembled for worship week after week. Other people trickled in slowly.
Though Pathways felt called to minister to Asian American young adults, that focus didn’t last long. People grew older. People invited their friends. They got married and began forming biracial families. The community moved out of living rooms and began renting spaces. Then something unexpected happened.
In another Houston neighborhood, St. Giles Presbyterian Church, whose members were mostly white and in their sixties and seventies, called Lynn Hargrove as interim pastor. The congregation wondered if she would be their last minister. When Hargrove heard members talk about closing, she led them through a discernment process. The leadership at St. Giles set attendance, membership, and budget benchmarks so that when they reached those numbers they would know they needed to make a decision. Then the church got to work.