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David Choi learns about organizing faith communities to act

David Choi, one of the 2016-17 participants in the PNC Justice Leadership Program for young adults, is bearing witness to his interest in the connection of faith and justice in his work with the Faith Action Network of Washington.

Organizer David Choi, left, with Faith Action Network staff co-director Elise DeGooyer, organizer ChasityJones, policy advocate Velma Veloria, co-director Paul Benz  and administrative and development coordinator Erin Parks.
Photo courtesy of Faith Action Network

In 2016, he earned a bachelor’s degree in government and political theory at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

At a job fair in Washington, D.C., he learned about the UCC Justice Leadership Program (JLP). It was the first time he heard about the UCC, he said.

From involvement with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in college, he said his faith dovetails with his love of politics and community organizing.

David grew up in a Korean Presbyterian church and in college fell away from faith.  In a time of questioning, he was invited to attend the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

“I began looking at the Gospel, at who Jesus is and at my understanding of my own heritage as an Asian American,” said David, noting that his experience of Christian faith has been different from the experiences of others in the 2016-17 JLP cohort.

The Justice Leadership Program intentionally brings together participants of different races, cultures, classes, ethnic, gender and faith identities, David said.

The young adults join in a program to grow in faith as it relates to justice, Scriptures and interaction with each other.

“Two grew up in churches where they were hurt and fell away.  Two grew up in the UCC and others are agnostics or not interested in Christian faith,” he said.  “Our interactions have taught me the wide breadth of spirituality and the variety of the Christian church.”

David serves at All Pilgrims Church and his supervisor is Greg Turk.

His first Sunday there, he realized that he was just one of few Asian Americans in a predominantly white congregation, in which the majority of members are older.

Used to a contemporary worship service, he found worship with an organ and choir different.

This congregation serving Capitol Hill, members are both straight and  LGBTQ.

“I have grown to appreciate All Pilgrims, wrestling with an open and affirming church that aims to be home where many people of the LGBTQ community have returned to church ro found the Christian faith to be relevant in their lives,” David said.

“I have gained a new perspective and appreciate that welcome,” he said.

In his work with FAN, he finds “second-wind” professional retirees with a passion for social justice volunteering.

“They are on fire with a passion for social justice.  They want to find how to work better and are devoted to speaking out and speaking up,” David said.

He appreciates FAN’s role in organizing an interfaith movement with faith communities partnered for the common good. 

Last summer, David had an internship with IMPACT in Charlottesville, Va., doing direct action and community organizing to influence local government.

David said his work with FAN has gone by seasons.  In the fall, he helped organize cluster gatherings where FAN listened to people in the faith communities to learn what policies they find important. Next the focus was on the annual dinner and fundraiser with advocates after the election.

“People feel passionate that we advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves, the weak, vulnerable and marginalized,” he said.

In February, FAN was busy with the Interfaith Advocacy Day, inviting advocates to Olympia on Feb. 9 to connect in face-to-face conversations with legislators in 49 districts.

Now FAN’s focus is outreach to invite new faith communities to join.

“It’s important to have the faith communities across Washington state mobilized and organized to influence policy,” he said.

This year is the sixth year for the Justice Leadership Program of the PNC placing young adult interns in advocacy and organizing for faith-inspired justice with partner agencies and UCC churches. 

The interns are recruited through the national UCC Young Adult Service Community program. 

In 2013-14, the first year, four interns participated.  This year there are six.  The interns live in intentional community, housed at an apartment at All Pilgrims Christian Church and a home called “Eden House” in Seattle.  They work 11 months with nonprofits engaged in doing justice.

For information, call 206-625-9790 or visit



Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News © April 2017


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