After a nearly two-and-a-half-year search, on Sunday, Sept. 5, the congregation at St. Davids-Queenston United Church welcomed their new minister, Rev. YongSeok Baek.
In the spring of 2019, long-time minister Rev. Paul James retired and moved to Penticton, B.C. He had served as minister at St. Davids-Queenston for 22 years.
Rev. Baek’s journey of faith that eventually brought him to St. Davids-Queenston is a fascinating story.
Rev. Baek was born and raised in South Korea. He pursued a theological education at Hanshin University and several years later, earned a bachelor of theology and master of divinity.
In 2011, he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea (PROK). At the time, he was encouraged by a Canadian colleague to study abroad.
YongSeok arrived in Canada in 2014 to begin his master of theological studies at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon. Under the faculty members’ tutelage, he received his academic and pastoral training and a call to the ministry in the United Church of Canada.
He was then called upon to be the minister of Wilkie and Cut Knife United Church in remote northwest Saskatchewan where he served for four years.
Back at St. Davids-Queenston, a search committee was meeting on a regular basis, developing their faith life story and posting job opening ads on the United Church’s web services as well as in the United Church magazine, Broadview.
A potential new minister was found in October, 2020, but that candidate ended up turning down the position. Not to be deterred, the search committee pressed on.
Baek’s appointment to the St. Davids-Queenston United Church was approved in late April 2021. Thus began an over 3,500-kilometre road-trip to come to Ontario.
He, his wife Yugene Oh and their two children, Soul and Dana, arrived in Niagara-on-the-Lake in mid-August, and he officially became the minister on Sept. 1. He and his family has settled in the Glendale area.
Baek’s first service was filled with inspiration, positivity, laughter and wonderful music. He loves singing with guitar, backpacking travel, and sports.
St. Davids-Queenston United Church has once again commenced in-person worship services at 10:30 a.m. Sundays, with capacity limits. An online reservation booking form has been created on the church’s website, and all those wishing to attend each week, must first make a reservation in order to avoid over capacity limits.
In addition, the church is simultaneously live-streaming their services on their YouTube Channel for those who feel more comfortable worshiping from home.
Steve Hardaker has lived in Glendale for 11 years and is active in many community organizations.