BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE
PUNGO — The Rev. David Ryu, the new senior pastor at Charity United Methodist Church, was born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Toronto after his parents moved there to give their children better opportunities.
He received his calling when he was 16 while attending a youth revival featuring Bernie Smith, known in Canada for his work as a choir master and musician. Smith, Ryu recalled, challenged the young people.
“The call came when he said, “I feel there are some of you who have been nudged by the spirit of God but have not made the leap.”
Ryu came up to the front and answered that call.
“The next time you see me up here, I’m going to be a minister,” he said. And then he thought: “What did I just say?”
But this was his path. He said he grew up loving the act of helping people and thought he would go into social work.
“To me, this is the greatest, most rewarding job I could ever have,” he said.
Ryu holds a master of divinity degree from Tyndale University College & Seminary in Toronto. He served as youth pastor at the Korean United Methodist Church of Detroit for seven and a half years where, among other accomplishments, he developed an English-speaking ministry.
He also served at the Korean United Methodist Church of San Diego and, later, to the Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington, where he and his wife established the English and children’s ministries. He was invited to Northern Virginia by Bishop Young Jin Cho, currently the bishop of the Virginia Annual Conference. Cho led the Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington in McClean, Va., for 22 years, a period of significant church growth.
Ryu is married to the Rev. Tarah Lee, also a Methodist minister. They met in Bible college, and they have been married nearly 25 years. “She’s the visionary,” Ryu said of his wife. “I like to get things done.”
They are the parents of two children, 19-year-old Andrew, studying biochemistry at Virginia Tech, and 15-year-old Kaitlin, a rising sophomore at Kellam High School.
Ryu said he has an affinity for people who feel they may be broken because all people are people in need of God’s grace.
If someone realizes this, he said, “then we’re all in the same group.”
When he was matched with the congregation, he said he wasn’t sure what to expect. But he connected with the church, and said he will be a pastor for Charity United Methodist Church who is involved in youth programs, visiting members of the congregation and in mission work.
“Even though we are a United Methodist Church, working with the community and all the different churches to build God’s kingdom will be a priority,” Ryu said. “It’s about our community.”
© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co. LLC