As you know, Pastor Sookwan Lee is not really an assistant pastor, although that is his title. Assistant Pastors’ ministries involve helping their senior pastor. But Pastor Lee doesn’t just help my ministry; he has his own ministries, including filling the pulpit when I am gone. He is more like a co-pastor.
One of his ministry duties is representing our church at denominational meetings and other associations. He attends the annual Southern Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Texas Convention as our messenger. He also represents our church at the Korean Baptist Church Association and other associational meetings. He will serve for four years as a board member of the Southern Baptist Texas Convention. This is quite an honor – he is the first Korean-American to serve in that capacity.
Another ministry Pastor Lee can call his own is leading pre-marital counseling classes. He teaches how to become the Christian couples God designed them to be. I officiate wedding ceremonies only when couples have completed this class.
From now on, however, Pastor Lee will not only do pre-marital counseling classes but also officiate the wedding ceremonies for couples who complete the class. One reason for this change is that I travel too often to find time to perform wedding ceremonies. But the more important reason is that Pastor Lee knows the couples better after the six-week-long class and is in a better position to give an appropriate admonition to brides and grooms during the ceremony.
It may be impractical for me to stop officiating wedding ceremonies entirely. So I will make a exception and officiate weddings when shepherds or their direct family members are getting married. That’s not to say that I must do it – I still want Pastor Lee to officiate their weddings, but if for some reason they really want me to do it, I will.
However, those who ask me to officiate their wedding must understand that there is a condition: they must be willing to put off their wedding date if I ask them to.
A few marriages I have performed ended in divorce. I remember feeling uncomfortable officiating their weddings, thinking that they were not ready. But I did not refuse because they all had reasons to get married right away.
From now on, I will only officiate weddings if I feel the couples are ready to be married. When I am not sure of their readiness, I will ask them to postpone their wedding date and spend more time getting to know each other. If they still want to get married after learning each others’ shortcomings, I will be happy to help them to tie the knot. But if they have misgivings about their future together, I won’t do the wedding ceremony. If you make a marriage vow before God that you will live as man and wife until death parts you, you must not divorce.
I will implement this plan starting in July next year. If I refuse to officiate weddings right away, people who have counted on me to do it may be hurt. But even before July, I ask that people have Pastor Lee wed them. If a couple wants me to officiate their wedding, they must remember that I may ask them to postpone their wedding date.
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