Attorney and social worker, advocate and cheerful witness, Ellen Ahn, executive director of Korean Community Services 복지 센터, grew up at St. Stephen’s, Hollywood, where her father, the Rev. Ahnmatae Matthew Ahn, also a social worker, was a Korean ministry pioneer. Matthew and his spouse and ministry partner, Grace, are retired and live in Brea.

When Ellen returned to St. Stephen’s years later, she was surprised to find that it had non-profit organizations as tenants, an aspect of the entrepreneurial ministry model of the current rector, the Rev. Canon Jaime Edwards-Acton.

The idea stuck with her. She told me today she hasn’t really had a day off for two years, as KCS (whose devoted chair, Edward George Garren, is also an Episco-Pal) meets the COVID challenge. Read about their work here. But she’s paused just long enough to begin an exciting partnership with the Rev. Dr. Thomas Lee, vicar of legendary St. Anselm’s Episcopal Church Garden Grove. Now the church will host new KCS mental and children’s health programs.

Today Canon Clare Zabala-Bangao and I were Thomas’s and Ellen’s guests for a grand tour, lunch, and data-rich briefing about the Korean community in Orange County. We even stopped in at the church’s regular Friday morning singing society, which switched from Korean to English so Clare and I could join in for two verses of “Danny Boy.”

Thomas’s doctorate is in congregational development. As he oversees a mission church that worships in English, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese, he has high hopes for an affordable housing project on the spacious St. Anselm’s grounds. It’s profoundly moving to know he’ll be able to depend on the support and wise advice of Ellen Ahn, who has found a sublime way to twin the values of her vocation with her devotion to her parents and faith.

Read more about St. Anselm’s here.