We Still Remember: James Sun Nam Han and Dorothy Sang Ye Han

There have been many people who have left a lasting legacy in our community here at Asbury Theological Seminary, and often, it is a legacy that leaves a global impact. We frequently remember them and keenly feel their absence, even long after the community has moved on. So, from time to time, we wish to publish a remembrance of a life well lived. Today, we remember two such people who worked together through a long marriage in ministry: Rev. James Sun Nam Han (1934-2016, class of 1962) and his wife, Dorothy Sang Ye Han (1928-2006, class of 1961).

We received from one of their sons the following memoir that is a moving tribute to their lives and ministries:

James was born December 20, 1934 to Yul Dong Han and Kui Rye Ahn, in Kunsan, South Korea, and had one brother and three sisters. He was led to Christianity at the age of 13 by his grandmother, Seung Yeo Park, and was inspired at the tender age of 14 to become a minister of the Gospel. He enjoyed his schooling, and had a love of languages, having learned Hebrew as well as teaching high school German. James attended Calvin College in South Korea, and served as a Chaplain during the Korean War. James emigrated to the United States in 1958 to attend Azusa College, earning a BA before attending Asbury Theological Seminary to receive his B. Divinity. At Asbury Seminary, he met Dorothy Sang Ye Kim, who was pursuing her Master’s in Religious Education. They were married in Wilmore, KY on May 27, 1960. Two sons were born to their marriage.

James continued his education at Yale Theological Seminary, pursuing Old Testament Studies, and culminated his formal education at Temple University, where he received a PhD in Religious Studies in 1970. His graduate thesis was “History of Methodism in Korea, 1931-1965.” While completing his doctoral work, James became a member of the North-East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1967, beginning a 30-year career of service to many UM Churches in Ohio. The appointments James and Dorothy serves were the following: Kirkpatrick; Pavonia; Mt. Vernon, Gay Street, Associate; South Amherst; Delaware, Grace; Madison, Chapel; Akron, Park; Mansfield, Korean; and Canton, Korean.

James and Dorothy loved serving God through many churches and communities during their long and fruitful career. James enjoyed his service as an Elder in the East Ohio Conference, and served on numerous committees, including the Episcopacy Committee, the Board of Ordained Ministry, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women in the UMC, the General Commission on Religion and Race, and the General Commission Task Force on Korean American Ministries. James also served as a Clergy Delegate to the General Conference of the UMC, as well as the North Central Jurisdictional Conference of the UMC.

As the first Korean protestant minister in Ohio, James enjoyed supporting and mentoring new Krean pastors who followed in his footsteps, as the number of Korean-American congregations grew. Together with Dorothy’s faithful support, outgoing personality, and generous hospitality, James served parishioners with congregations with grace, humility, and eloquence, an ever-present smile, and a warm, gentle character for which he remains so beloved. James and Dorothy enjoyed pastoral life, ministering to so many in homes, hospitals, and churches, supporting them with presence and prayer.

As emigrants to a country they adopted with wholehearted devotion, James and Dorothy both possessed uncommon courage grounded in their unwavering faith in Jesus Christ. Their pioneer spirit was expressed with quiet generosity and calm optimism, gratitude and compassion, integrity and love. Upon retirement in 1997, James and Dorothy enjoyed many wonderful years in Pittsburgh, traveling and overseeing the adventures of their five grandchildren, even as James continued to preach in local congregations in eastern Ohio and Pittsburgh. James and Dorothy leave a powerful legacy of service, leadership, devotion, and love that inspire us today.

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