Meet an Alumnus
November 04, 2012
Rev. Sam Chung, M.Div., ’05; Th.M. ‘09
Rev. Sam Chung is currently serving as education pastor at the Korean Church of Queens, in charge of the entire Sunday school program for infants through college-aged students, as well as college ministries and Summer schools. He was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his time at Westminster.
One of the things that Rev. Chung has grown to appreciate more since his time at Seminary is Westminster’s emphasis on the doctrine of Scripture: “The first year of the M.Div. program is heavily focused on the doctrine of Scripture, and that’s obviously where Westminster Confession chapter 1 starts. Not with Christ, not with salvation, but with the Word of God. I couldn’t really see the big picture until I got to third year or fourth year, but what I could see afterwards was that the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that the Scriptures are the living Word of God, and it is enduring—it stabilizes everything that you do and perceive after a seminary education.” His emphasis for his Th.M. was on the Trinitarian theology of Van Til, and he could see the clear connection between Van Til’s apologetics and the Reformed doctrine of Scripture.
Dr. Lane Tipton, associate professor of systematic theology, was Sam’s advisor for his Th.M. However, his first impression of Dr. Tipton was a lasting one. “It was 2003 or 2004 when Dr. Tipton didn’t yet have a Ph.D. When we heard that this young man without a Ph.D. was going to come teach us Salvation courses, which Dr. Gaffin used to teach for a long time, many of us were disappointed. A few of the guys actually skipped a year to not take a course with Tipton because they didn’t know who he was; they wanted to wait for Dr. Gaffin. But as soon as he stepped up to the podium and he started teaching, we were blown away. He was one of the best teachers I ever had in terms of clarity and drawing the big picture for us as he dove deeper into the subject. Soon the unverified (yet certainly confirmed later) anecdotes about Dr. Tipton were circulating; such as how he gets up every day at 4am to read for 3 hours before he goes to school. Also, many of us had never heard of the doctrine of Union with Christ, but it was an eye-opener for us. Dr. Tipton still remains to be a good friend-mentor.”
Rev. Chung goes on to describe life after seminary. “As I grow older, I’m learning more to die to my own self—that has to happen as a pastor.” He continues, “I’m now an OPC minister, and I learn a great deal from other ministers and pastors. As time goes on, I appreciate faithful “local” pastors more and more. Just looking at them and seeing them hold onto the Gospel and actually enjoy their ministry is what I am trying to do in my own context. I’ve seen this personally in Rev. William Shishko (M.Div. ’79), the pastor of Franklin Square OPC near my house. It’s good to see the gospel embodied. It’s good to have older ministers of the gospel in your life!”
He has also been appreciative of the support he’s received from the seminary, even after graduation. “Dr. David Garner and Rev. John Currie came to New York City about 3 years ago, and they had an alumni dinner. They expected about 40 people, but about 5-6 actually showed up. One of the things that stuck with me that they said was how alumni associations in college contexts seem to exist to raise funds for their school. But John said that he knows Westminster alumni are not as financially well off. When he said that [the alumni association] actually exists to encourage pastors and alumni, I really appreciated it. It was a great encouragement to me to see Dr. Garner and Rev. Currie travel to New York City just to have dinner and encourage local pastors. That greatly encouraged me that if I ever become financially secure, then I would like to contribute to Westminster.”
Please pray for Rev. Chung as he ministers to the people in his church. Pray especially for his church, that the Lord would foster a spirit of unity among the brethren there.
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