CAPE MAY – While Americans celebrated Independence Day, HeyYoung Horton celebrated her first sermon at Cape May United Methodist Church.
Originally from South Korea, Horton’s path crossed mountains, oceans, and city streets before arriving in Cape May.
With compassion and love for others, Horton looks forward to challenges and opportunities that come her way. She sat down with Faith Matters July 22, opening her office doors and heart to share her vision and hopes for future ministry.
Missionary to Student
Horton lived and studied in her homeland until embarking as a missionary to Nepal and the Philippines. She described scenes of dire poverty and amazing joy in children's faces. The children taught Horton the secret of contentment.
“Materialism can’t satisfy,” she said.
At the time, Nepal was the third poorest nation in the world. In the Philippines, she saw families living on “a mountain of trash.” Yet, the people’s joy and gratitude remain in Horton’s heart.
At 29, Horton realized something was missing.
“I did not have a base in theology. I did not know God in an academic way,” she explained.
In 1996, Horton applied and was accepted to Princeton Theological Seminary. As a student, she set foot on American soil for the first time.
Rigorous academics and a full schedule filled Horton’s days, in seminary.
She attributes her success to God’s grace.
She graduated and was later ordained by the United Methodist Church, in 1999. During this time, she met and married her husband, Gary. Two children soon joined them.
A New Assignment
For 17 years, Horton served as an associate pastor, in Moorestown. She relished her “community of faith” while fulfilling various administrative functions and raising a family. She enjoyed building relationships within the church.
Then, in early 2021, she was reassigned to Cape May.
Starting over is never simple, but Horton is “settling in” and building a new network of support within the church.
“I believe that God has called the church to be the translators of God's message of unconditional grace and love,” Horton wrote, on the church's website.
She desires the church to be a “safe sanctuary” for all.
Beginning in September, Horton and church staff will launch a weekly children’s program every Thursday evening, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Games, crafts, and music will revolve around Biblical lessons.
The program will begin with a “healthy and nutritional” dinner for the children who attend. The age span is 4-12.
According to Horton, the weekly program will help nurture “healthy families” and relationships. All staff members will undergo training and background checks, ensuring each child’s safety.
A “minicamp week,” Aug. 2-3, will initiate Horton’s project.
Learning a new mindset in a new town is Horton’s present challenge. However, she is thankful for each congregant and the love they give.
“My gift is pastoral care,” she said.
“My church is my mentor and friend. We all have a gift,” she added.
Horton stated she is the first “ethnic pastor” of the church, but refuses to view people by racial, social, or political standards.
Social justice is important, according to Horton.
Her life and ministry are summed up on the church’s website: “I love my role as a pastor, but I must admit that I am not holier than others. I, too, am a sinner, who was redeemed by God's grace on the cross. It was God's grace that called me out of my comfort zone to share the good news.”
Faith Matters is an ongoing series exploring the connection between individuals and their faith, impacting their families, community, and beyond. Those with a story of faith to share should contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.