Korean Americans make up a large portion of Los Angeles’ population, and many of them identify as Christian. However, Korean churches do not have the same reputation for impacting the community in the same way Black or Latino churches do. Hyepin Im, a Korean American living in Los Angeles, started the nonprofit Faith and Community Empowerment (FACE) that in part helps Korean American churches partner with media, governments and nonprofits, and other services.
Im recalls feeling inspired to start FACE after seeing the civic engagement led by Cecil Murray and Mark Whitlock in the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. KPCC spoke to Mark Whitlock, the director of USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, about his philosophy of faith-based community engagement:
Whitlock said their model is focused on tracking measurable metrics on social justice projects and giving congregants opportunities to use their existing skills in banking, law, medicine and other careers for social impact.
“It’s a matter of igniting a desire to serve the poor,” Whitlock said. “After igniting, then you have to motivate and provide a platform to volunteer and contribute funds.”
Whitlock said these strategies are transferable to different denominations, ethnic groups and religions.