AHyun Lee

Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology, Care, and Psychotherapy


  • Ph.D., Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
  • M.Div., Wesley Theological Seminary
  • M.Theo., The Graduate School of Methodist Theological University, Seoul, Korea
  • B.Theo., The Methodist Theological University, Seoul, Korea

Pastoral Care and Counseling as Yeon-ji (연지)

Yeon-ji (연지, individual trees) growing in a small and challenging space will struggle to get enough nutrients and sunlight for themselves. Rather than fighting or killing each other, the Yeon-ji (연지) will grow together by holding onto each other, sustaining each other, and flourishing together. They remain separate trees, each with their own root system, but they also depend on each other for survival. I often imagine pastoral care and counseling in theological education as a Yeon-ji (연지) which flourishes as Yeolliji (연리지, a tree whose roots are entwined with another tree) where all grow together and form a forest (숲).

Each of my students as a Yeon-ji (연지) brings who they are as an expert in their lived experiences. At the heart of teaching and learning in pastoral care and counseling is the uniqueness of each person’s life journey. The pastoral presence is about sustaining each other in face of the most difficult and painful challenges of the human experience as Yeolliji (연리지). We cooperate to become clinicians and pastoral counselors, as well as theological scholars in the classroom, where students and I grow together as Yeolliji (연리지). Eventually we form a forest of interconnections where we support and sustain each other, so we all flourish. Each of us is both a Yeon-ji (연지) and a Yeolliji (연리지). As a forest of Yeolliji (연리지), we can better respond to the needs of diverse and global communities by extending knowledge through reflective and courageous conversations and caring for persons and communities with the transforming love of Jesus Christ!

My specific areas of interest are in interdisciplinary methods with psychodynamic theories and critical and social-cultural studies, trauma-informed care in transnational and multicultural counseling, gender and power, feminist and womanist theories, Asian theology, and practical theology.