Our Minister: Rev. Dr. Nam Ok Yoo (유남옥 목사)
Nam Ok was born in Nam Won, South Korea. She obtained her BA, MA, and Ph. D. in Korean Language & Literature at SookMyung Women’s University in Seoul and taught Korean language and literature for a decade. After arriving in Canada in 1998, she worked as a Research Associate at the Faculty of Education in UBC, where she spearheaded the first province-wide initiative to develop an accredited Korean Language Curriculum for BC high schools.
She felt God’s call in 2010 and subsequently entered the Master of Divinity Program at the Vancouver School of Theology. She graduated from VST with a Presbyterian background and shortly after she transferred to the United Church of Canada. She started her ministry at the Hardisty-Hughenden Pastoral Charge in east-central Alberta and she was ordained in 2018 by the BC Conference. While living and worshipping with the people in the two agricultural areas Nam Ok deepened her understanding of the vital role that rural churches play in their communities. This was a transformative experience that significantly expanded the horizons of her ministry.
She started her new ministry in May 2020 at the Willingdon Heights United Church in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with adapting to the challenges of remote worship, she saw WHUC’s potential as a model intercultural church that embraces diverse backgrounds, cultures, and languages, and yet, is united as one as a worshipping community, Christ’s hands and feet. She envisions WHUC is a holy space for all people, regardless of all the differences we may have, where we understand and serve with one another, and where everyone feels respected and safe to worship as they are, to gather for God’s mission and fellowship. She is excited to share her vision with those who are drawn to the community that is Willingdon Heights United Church.
Nam Ok is a life-long learner and seeker of truth with a passion for faith, hope, and justice. She has two grown-up daughters, Jenny and Michelle. Nam Ok enjoys reading, walking and cooking, especially making kimchi, a traditional Korean cabbage dish, during her spare time.
Our Pianist: Brenda Katzeff
Originally from Argentina, Brenda’s love for music began at an early age when she was a student at the Collegium Musicum in Buenos Aires. After moving to Canada when she was 7, she began studying piano at the BC Conservatory of music, where she received her ARCT Performer diploma from the RCM, as well as her Piano Pedagogy certificate.
Since 2017, Brenda has worked as a freelance accompanist, frequently playing for concerts, recitals, festivals, auditions, and special events including weddings and funerals. Highlights include playing for the Vancouver Opera Festival, the Little Black Dress Gala at the Fairmont Hotel, and a citizenship ceremony at Vancouver City Hall. She also had the pleasure to participate in Opera NUOVA’s emerging artist program for collaborative pianists. She currently plays for Crescendo Operatic Society and is also a dance accompanist at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and Coastal City Ballet. Since December 2021, she has been playing for Sunday worship services at WHUC, as well as volunteering on their Praise Team.
In addition to piano, Brenda also enjoys singing, particularly opera. She sings regularly for WHUC, and has also performed with opera companies throughout Vancouver, including Burnaby Lyric Opera, Heroic Opera, North Shore Light Opera, and Opera Opulenza. In addition to her music studies, Brenda also has a bachelor’s degree in English from SFU and a Certificate in Translation (Spanish to English) from the University of Toronto. She is happy to be part of a welcoming and positive community where she can share her joy for music.
Our Minister of Intercultural Children's Ministry: Grace Lee
Grace joined Willingdon Heights UC in 2018 and have been Minister of Intercultural Children’s Ministry since 2020.
Having been growing as a pastor’s daughter, Grace knows how important our children and children’s ministry are. She thinks they are the future of the church. They are to grow and thrive in faith, share the Good News with people around the world living as disciples of Jesus Christ. She is passionate about this important ministry and delighted to see a bright future in Willingdon Heights in which people with diverse background meet and interact with each other.
She is hoping that in this blessed environment, our children will have a meaningful time learning about the Scripture, Christian values, and the church while having fun with activities and fellowship together.