Charles Ryu

Lead Pastor

Born in Seoul, Korea as a fourth generation Methodist and immigrated to the United States during his high school days, Pastor Charles received his calling to ordained ministry rather early in his childhood. This call deepened and found a new clarification in his new social location as an immigrant, an ethnic minority, and with a new Korean-American identity, increasingly seeing his life as a global citizen, thinking globally though living and acting locally. His spiritual journey progressed from a more traditional and pietistic background to a more ecumenical, inter-faith, progressive, activistic, scientific, and contemplative/mystical form of Christian walk. He is seeking what is divine in the most mundane.

He received philosophical and theological education from Boston University (B.A.), The University of Chicago (M.A.) and Yale University (M. Div & STM). He also holds an additional bachelor’s degree in music (theory and composition) from State University of New York at New Paltz, and has done a graduate level study at Vatican’s Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music (Rome, Italy). He is a member of two academic guilds: European Society for Intercultural Theology and Inter-religious Studies (ESITIS), and European Society for Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT).

During his pastoral journey over 35 years, Pastor Charles has served in many different settings: Korean congregations, primarily European white congregations, multicultural/muitl-ethnic congregations, campus ministry, camping ministry, children, youth and young adults ministries, institutional ministries, and peace with justice advocacy ministries. Most significantly, during 1986-1990, he was Associate Pastor at Korean Methodist Church and Institute, charged with developing the English Language Ministry, which eventually became Morningside UMC. So, he came back full circle to where he began.

He is a classical pianist with concert credits in four continents, and has been a lead actor in short and feature length films depicting authentic Korean-American immigrant lives.

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