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Ridgecrest Presbyterian Sunday services are bilingual. “We feel very integrated.” Left to right Elder Steve Garrison, Elder Young Kim and Clerk of Session Jackie Brennan. - Laura Austin Photo

Ridgecrest Presbyterian celebrates its 60th Anniversary

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer —

The Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church will celebrate its 60th Anniversary on June 2 during its 10 am Sunday Worship Service. They tell us, “A potluck luncheon will follow a special worship service. We are offering an invitation to many past members who live outside of the area, and the invitation is also open to everyone in the Ridgecrest community to join us for both. Anyone who wants to participate in the luncheon can RSVP to  the church e-mail or leave their contact information on the church phone voice mail at (760) 375-2214”

About three years ago, the local Korean Church began worshiping in the church. Elder Young Kim tells us, “The Korean Church has been around about 30 years here in Ridgecrest with a very small group of people. We changed pastors about four or five times, and because it is a small community, pastors came, and sometimes about four or five years later, they moved to a new location.

“We’ve been gathering in different places. We asked the Presbyterian Church to see if we could have worship in their facility, and they gladly accepted us. We did have a pastor back then. When the last pastor left us, we needed a pastor.” They didn’t have the finances to invite a Korean pastor. “We decided maybe we can have worship in the Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church, even though it’s American, we do speak English, and we do understand English. However, some of that scripture is a little bit too hard for some of the Korean members. So we worked on bilingual; the bulletin is bilingual. We decided that we were going to have worship at the same time since we’ve been in the same facility.”

“We read the scripts both in English and in Korean,” explains Clerk of Session Jackie Brennan. “The pastor reads English right now, sometimes we’ve had a liturgist, but the pastor’s reading English, and most of the time, elder Kim reads Korean. We go through them one by one.”

Elder Steve Garrison adds, “I noticed that when the ladies get together, they feel very comfortable, before the service, having conversations in Korean. They aren’t self-conscious about our English speakers.”
Brennan agrees, “We met for fellowship after service for Mother’s Day. We had a celebration. We all sat together. I think, for the most part, we feel very integrated.”

The Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church is a welcoming environment with a sanctuary that has excellent acoustics. The Ridgecrest Chamber Music Society holds its concerts in the church. The Peter Pinto Scholarship auditions and concerts have been held there. They are home to other denominations. A Jewish congregation meets there once per month. Up until last year, a Spanish-speaking Pentecostal Church met there several times a week.

Brennan wants to get the word out that they are looking for a new pastor. “We have transitional pastors right now. We always try to question a lot to make sure that anyone that comes here will be culturally sensitive because, yes, they’re part of our family. We need to make sure that’s not lost.” They also want their new pastor to reside in Ridgecrest.

The first Korean Presbyterian church was founded in Korea in 1884. Today more than ten percent of Presbyterian Churches in America are Korean-American.

The News Review sought out the church while wanting to honor May’s Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, which originated in 1979. It began as a “week,” and in 1990, it expanded to a month. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

The local church would love to have 60 citizens at its celebration. No doubt, the potluck will be very interesting.