They’ve only been in town for a little more than a month but Lts. Hwang and Seoyoung Lim, the new Corps officers of The Salvation Army of Greater Kearny, are making their presence known.
The couple, who say they are the first Asian officers in the century-plus-history of the Kearny Corps, are busy keeping summer programs going and planning new ones for the fall.
“We want the Corps to be active in the community and we want those in the community to make good use of us,” said Seoyoung Lim.
Although the Corps will be unable to sustain its computers class, Seoyoung said that she and her husband have pledged to find funding “to make our children’s and music programs more active.”
This summer, the Corps has offered music for kids ages 6 to 18 on Mondays, from 3 to 6 p.m., but when school resumes next month, the class will shift to Fridays, probably from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Youngsters are being introduced to brass band instruments, tambourine, recorder, music theory, singing and dancing. Seoyoung, a pianist, plays for the class.
In the fall, Hwang said, “we plan to open an art class and we have been cleaning up our gym so we can have indoor soccer for the younger children, ages 5 to 10.”
An existing ESL (English as a Second Language) class for adults, which meets Wednesdays and Thursdays, at 7 p.m., is continuing and a Citizenship class, in which 16 adults are enrolled, will meet Mondays, from 7 to 9 p.m.
The Corps’ regular food pantry, open to low-income residents, is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 10 a.m. to noon, and its emergency pantry accepts walk-ins from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
And worship services are still being held on Sundays at 10:45 a.m., with Sunday School at 9:30 a.m.
“We are working closely with Division Headquarters and corporate sponsors to get funds for all programs,” Seoyoung said.
Looking to further strengthen the Corps’ viability and provide for outreach to the community, the Lims are hoping to line up additional kettle workers for the Salvation Army’s traditional Christmas campaign.
Their goal is to boost the usual 13 or 14 kettle stands in the Corps’ service area to as many as 20. “We will be standing, too,” Seoyoung said.
The Lims credited members of the Corps’ Advisory Board with being supportive in helping orient them to their new community and in backing their goals for the Kearny Corps, which includes Harrison, East Newark, North Arlington and Lyndhurst in its service area.
They will meet with the Advisory Board and Corps Council sometime next month and sketch out plans for the coming year at that time.
The Lims, who came to Kearny after serving a year as assistant Corps officers at the S.A.’s Montclair Citadel, met initially in the service of the S.A. in Korea.
Seoyoung explained that while she was working for Korean Air and was in the United Kingdom studying for a degree in air transport management, her future husband was an assistant youth worker at her “home Corps” in Korea.
“I asked for her help in [teaching at] Vacation Bible School,” Hwang said. “And, by God’s grace, we came together.”
But the couple’s union was almost scuttled. “My parents knew that being in the Salvation Army was not an easy life. They didn’t want me to live a poor life,” Seoyoung said, and they tried talking her out of the union. It didn’t work. They wed in 2007.
The couple’s route to the U.S. came about through Hwang’s S.A. odyssey. He was admitted to a Ph.D. program in pastoral counseling at Yonsei University in Seoul which required him to complete his dissertation in English.
To that end, with financial help from his brother-in-law, he enrolled in New York Uni versity to learn English and, while there, he was offered an opportunity to lead an S.A. Youth Ministry in Englewood.
After completion of a two-year officer training program in Suffern, N.Y., the Lims were assigned to the Montclair Corps in 2014. A year later, they found themselves in Kearny as replacements for Capt. Sherry and Lt. Maurice Moukouangala who were reassigned to Tulsa, Okla.
The Lims have two children: a daughter, Eugene, 8, who will attend Roosevelt School, and a son, Euan, 4, enrolled in Loving Hands Academy day school.
Although Hwang said he was still adjusting to the demands of English, Seoyoung asserted that, “As long as we love our people, language cannot be a barrier. God and our people keep us going so we are glad of that.”