A former Hollywood agent who swapped a multi-million dollar celebrity lifestyle for the pulpit is set to be inducted to his first parish this week.
Sang Cha, 34, is also the first person of direct Korean descent to be ordained as a Church of Scotland minister – exactly a century after the Bible was translated into the native language by a Kirk missionary.
The historic ordination and induction service takes place at St Mungo’s Church in Alloa tomorrow (2nd June) at 7pm.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Mr Cha was eight when his family moved to New Jersey, USA. After studying business at university in Pennsylvania, he moved to California to work in the showbiz circuit as an agent, and wanted to become a producer.
Recognising that to produce compelling movies he needed to know people with compelling stories, he went to Alaska to do volunteering work in search of those with a tale to tell.
It was here where the Korean-American Mr Cha found God, and a higher calling to serve in the ministry: “I renounced at that time all the money, power and success associated with the Hollywood way of life.
“In the Church of Scotland the most one can ever make is £30,000 per year so I chose this path with my eyes wide open.
“It was not a hard decision as money never fascinated me much in any case, but it does make a change from having hundreds of thousands of dollars at your disposal.”
The induction also has a historical twist, as Mr Cha explained: “What started with the translation of the first Bible into Korean with Reverend John Ross in 1911, will, in some way, have come home.
“The fruits of the missionary’s labour will have, I daresay, returned, and this is a deeply humbling thought.
“Scots and Koreans have always had close links, and it is an honour and a privilege to be the first Korean to serve on these shores.”
Acknowledging that he does not fit the mould of a traditional Church of Scotland minister, Mr Cha is desperate to get down to business in his new congregation: “I have always been interested in the interplay between theology and the social sciences, especially as it concerns how Christians can and must speak authentically in the public sphere.
“I have been given the work of trying to imagine what it means to be a Christian in a world that Christians no longer control and look forward to the long haul in ministry which lies ahead.”