Drew Theological School Alum YoungHak Lee T’21 Returns to Earn a PhD

“Drew has helped me embark on this transformative journey of becoming a pastor who spreads God’s love, grace, and compassion to all”

July 2023 – Drew Theological School Master of Divinity (MDiv) alum YoungHak Lee T’21 is the pastor at Paoli United Methodist Church in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

Lee has spent 12 years in various ministries—U.S. Army chaplaincy, campus ministry, youth and children’s ministry, and hospice chaplaincy. As a pastor, he strives to create a Christ-centered and spirit-led faith community that embraces all people.

Fueled by a passion for New Testament studies, one that was sparked during his time as a MDiv student, Lee has returned to Drew to obtain his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Bible & Cultures. Read on to learn about his academic and vocational goals as he continues his journey at Drew.

Why Drew Theological School?
I chose Drew Theological School for my MDiv because it aligns perfectly with my calling to ministry and my heartfelt desire to be a pastor who embraces all children of God, extending God’s grace and love without any barriers. Drew’s strong foundation in the rich Wesleyan and Methodist tradition deeply resonates with my personal beliefs and values, providing a solid framework for my theological studies and spiritual growth.

What drew me to Drew even more was its comprehensive and flexible curriculum, designed to prepare graduates to be learned Christian leaders in the complexities of today’s world. The program not only equips us with essential knowledge but also nurtures our creativity and adaptability, enabling us to effectively address the challenges and opportunities that arise in ministry.

I am particularly inspired by Drew’s emphasis on spiritual and social growth. The transformative power of ministry lies not only in spreading the message but also in actively engaging with communities, promoting justice, and fostering compassion. Drew’s commitment to nurturing both our spiritual lives and our understanding of social issues empowers us to become well-rounded leaders capable of making a lasting impact.

Furthermore, the achievements of Drew alumni have served as a testament to the profound influence the institution has on shaping individuals who go on to make a significant difference in the lives of others. Witnessing their transformative work and seeing the positive ripple effect they create has further strengthened my resolve to pursue my studies at Drew and follow in their footsteps.

Drew has helped me embark on this transformative journey of becoming a pastor who spreads God’s love, grace, and compassion to all.

Why Drew, again?
During my MDiv program at Drew, my passion for New Testament studies ignited and flourished. The depth and richness of the subject captivated me, prompting me to pursue an advanced master’s degree specifically focused on New Testament studies at a different institute. It was during this time that I became acutely aware of the exceptional caliber of Drew’s New Testament scholars in the academic world.

As I immersed myself in the study of the New Testament, I consistently encountered the groundbreaking works and contributions of the esteemed scholars from Drew. Their research and insights resonated deeply with me, and I found myself grateful for the opportunity to have learned directly from them during my MDiv program at Drew.

I am now eager to return to Drew to pursue my second degree. I have the privilege of not only learning from, but also engaging in dialogue and collaboration with the most exceptional New Testament scholars in the world. I am confident that this experience will greatly enrich my understanding of the New Testament and equip me to contribute meaningfully to the academic discourse in this field.”

How will your degrees from Drew help you achieve your vocational goals?
I have a deep fascination with the enduring relevance of biblical texts, written over two thousand years ago, and their profound impact on our lives and the world we live in today. I strongly believe that the teachings of Jesus Christ have the power to make this world a better place. I am driven to become a pastor and biblical scholar who can reinterpret the scriptures in a way that allows people to truly experience God’s love and grace, and ultimately, make a positive difference in our world.

To realize these aspirations, I have chosen to pursue a PhD in Bible & Cultures at Drew. I recognize that this advanced academic journey will equip me with the necessary tools to become not only a proficient scholar, but also a more effective pastor and interpreter of the Bible. Through rigorous study and engagement with the New Testament, I aim to deepen my understanding of the scripture and its profound implications for our lives today.

I will gain the expertise and insights needed to bridge the gap between the ancient texts and our modern context. I am excited to explore the diverse perspectives and methodologies within the field, allowing me to develop a nuanced understanding of the scriptures and their relevance for individuals, communities, and society as a whole.


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