Hinsdale church quite a change for new pastor

Members of Hinsdale United Methodist Church will hear a new voice and see a new face when they arrive at church Sunday, July 7. That's when the church's new pastor, the Rev. Dr. Grace Oh, will deliver her first message at the church.

Oh, 63, was appointed to the church following the retirement of the Rev. Young-Mee Park and began her job as senior pastor on July 1.

Oh's new home in Hinsdale is just 25 miles in distance but a world away from her previous home in Chicago, where she led the congregation at Englewood-Rust United Methodist Church.

"The average income is about $20,000," Oh said of her former church population, which was composed completely of people of color. Hinsdale, she said, is a stark contrast that likely will require her to change both her message and the focus of her work as pastor.

In Englewood, Oh said, her primary message was one of hope and a reminder that God loves everyone. In Hinsdale, Oh said she expects to offer lessons about the importance of sharing one's gifts while continuing the church's mission to honor Jesus in word and action and to follow His example of love and grace to all.

But first, she will take time to get to know her church members and the needs of her congregation and the entire Hinsdale community. Ultimately, Oh said, she hopes to help others experience the impact that Jesus has had on her life.

Oh said her life changed forever when she became a Christian at age 17. The victim of physical abuse and a broken family, Oh said she was severely depressed and even attempted suicide before welcoming Jesus into her life. She was a member of the Presbyterian faith and a Pentecostal church before finding her permanent faith home in the Methodist church.

Despite enjoying a deep faith from a young age and even studying religion in college, Oh said becoming a pastor was never a goal. When she enrolled in seminary school, it was to open up financial aid opportunities for her college-bound children rather than to pursue a career. But God, Oh said, had other plans. During a mission trip to Jamaica, she felt the undeniable pull to help people through her faith.

"I decided to become a pastor to educate people," Oh said.

She graduated from Garrett Theological Seminary and went on to earn a doctor of ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, at age 60. In the 10 years since becoming a pastor, Oh has served at Evangelical United Methodist in Ottawa, Thornton United Methodist in Thornton, and in Englewood.

"As I begin my journey at Hinsdale United Methodist Church, I humbly invite everyone to walk alongside me, to join me in discovering the incredible work God has prepared for all of us," she said.

"God has surprises in your life," and coming to Hinsdale is a pleasant one for her, Oh said.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I think I'm in the best place."

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean