In March of 2012, Pastor Sam Yun was invited by Oakland Korean United Methodist Church (OKUMC) to pursue the development of a next generation faith community for and on behalf their congregation. In preparatory discussions, it was made clear and agreed upon that the goal of this consultation process would be two-fold: 1) to reach next generation (predominantly) Korean Americans in the East Bay who would not normally be attracted to the “typical” Korean church or Asian-American church, and 2) to engage in a leadership development process that would result in a self-led community. These two goals assumed the possibility that this newly formed next generation faith community would: 1) not necessarily be housed within the Oakland Korean United Methodist Church as merely an “English Service” for the second generation, and 2) not necessarily be dependent on a full-time, ordained pastoral leader.

As a result, the East Bay Small Group (EBSG) was formed and continues to meet independent of Oakland Korean United Methodist Church. The EBSG now meets every other Thursday and has grown to a consistent membership/participation of 14+ individuals. Significant milestones for this community has been the execution of an outreach event at a bar that drew over 60 people, miscellaneous community service projects, an annual weekend retreat, and an experimental once a month worship service including an Easter service in 2014 that drew 37 individuals (most of whom were unchurched or dis-churched).

Over the past year, there has been an increasing stirring in the soul of Pastor Sam, or as the EBSG refers to him, P. Sam. Through multiple conversations with the denominational leadership and extended times of prayer for clarity, it was discerned that a call was coming forth to take this group to the next level and actually pursue a new church start. When the news was shared with the EBSG, the members responded with great excitement, joy and enthusiasm, which was more confirmation that the time is right to plant a church.

Currently, the East Bay is listed as one of the highest “unchurched” areas in the country, with 61% of the people not having attended church in the last six months (according to a Barna Research). Along with that, the reality of the recent migration of young adults in their 20’s and 30’s from San Francisco into Oakland and nearby areas makes the East Bay a prime region to start a new church – especially one that will represent both the ethnic and spiritual diversity of this growing demographic in the area.

The “SO THAT” Summary

In light of both the personal history and growth of the EBSG and the need for more relevant churches to meet the spiritual hunger of those living in the East Bay and nearby areas, EMBRACE CHURCH has been launched on July 1, 2015 with P. Sam as the Lead Pastor and the members of the EBSG as the core launch team. This church will be planted SO THAT the spiritual hunger of the East Bay will be met leading to the development of committed followers of Jesus Christ who will bring transformation and hope for its immediate community and the world.

Our vision is now to build a multi-ethnic faith community that will represent both the demographic and needs of the East Bay.

Our Team Members

Pastor Sam Yun

Also known as P. Sam, he is the planting pastor for EMBRACECHURCH. His duties include preaching, vision casting, raising up leaders, counseling and setting the primary spiritual heartbeat of the community. P. Sam is father of two, lover of all sports with a net, follower of Jesus, and immensely broken but constantly...

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Emily Fan

Emily serves as the Leadership Council Chair. Bright, enthusiastic and super-organized, she brings an amazing gift of detail-oriented leadership. When she is not helping change the world through her work in the non-profit industry, she loves to spend her time enjoying conversations with friends or cuddling with her furry family...

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Hans Cho

Hans serves as the Lay Leader for EMBRACE. He inspires our community with encouragement, faith and great insight. Talented, funny and born entertainer, he never tires of making his friends laugh. When he is not busy expanding his meat distribution business, he likes to follow all sorts of sports and,...

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Augustine Yoo

Aug serves as our chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee. That sounds pretty cryptic, we know. But simply put, he is our key leader in charge of overseeing the well-being and well-serving of the staff. He is the one who ultimately “has the Pastor’s back”, and at the same...

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Sarah Yoo

Sarah is our finance genius of the team. An expert (and lover) of all things Excel, she is responsible for making sure that our stewardship and financial management is faithful and fruitful. Plus, she’s better at math than the rest of us! Sarah is married to her husband, Augustine, and...

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Minjung Cho

Minjung, aka MJ…aka Terry, serves as our optimistic and exuberant leader called to help us bridge life within the church to the neighborhood outside of the church. Her aim is to help us fulfill the call of all disciples to be “salt and light in the world”. Genuinely sweet and...

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Peter Kim & Rica de Jesus

Peter and Rica are more than a lovely couple… they are a power couple. A force to be reckoned with! One contains a genuine and humble curiosity, and the other a “go get ’em” type of spirit. Together, they have a heart for helping people and making a true difference...

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Brian Kang

Also known as BJ, Brian is tall not just in physical stature, but especially in spiritual maturity. BJ has the gift of compassion and counseling. He brings to our team the type of wisdom that comes from having experienced growth in faith through real life experiences – both good and...

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Jason Lee

Also known as Jelly, Jason serves as our Small Groups Coordinator. A natural extrovert and incredible evangelist, Jason loves reaching out to people and loves it when people reach out to each other. He has an incredible heart of faith, is always encouraging, and more thank anything, loves community. Jason’s incredibly...

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James Lee

Most people know him as Baby James. Some consider him a Champion of Industry. Few people know what that actually means. James himself isn’t one of them. But what James does know is the heart of worship. He serves our ministry as the coordinator of our Creative Arts Team and...

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Mike Lee

Former star and finalist on America’s Got Talent, Mike is responsible for making worship sexy. With his smooth and silky voice, Mike leads the EMBRACE community each week in heartfelt songs of worship. His passion is without a doubt music, and that coupled with his desire to glorify God, makes...

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Debbie Kim

Debbie is world traveler and our resident artist. With a keen eye to detail and a heart full of compassion, she is able to see and extract beauty in creation and in people. She serves the EMBRACE community in the area of Media and Visual Direction and is the creator of...

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