Header Image

Our Staff

Michael Kytka

 

Senior Pastor

Michael was raised in New York City in a Roman Catholic home. Searching for the meaning of life, the key to unlock the mysteries of life, he found himself in a state of creative discontent after his local parish priest could not keep up with his questions about faith and spirituality. Nevertheless, Michael continued his journey until a pivotal turning point came in a college American history class where a Jewish history professor asked a question of the class that proved critical in Michael's conversion at age 19. Just a year later, in the same school, Michael found his call to the ministry in Philosophy 101 when his professor, tiring of this new Christian's challenges, asked him to a class debate (extra credit!) on David Hume's position on religious knowledge. Nervous but excited for the opportunity, Michael enjoyed the experience of advocating for the Christian worldview in the marketplace of ideas and soon afterward responded by pursuing a call to the ministry.

In the almost twenty years since those formative experiences, Michael served churches in four of the five boroughs of the City, along with a church in St. Louis, where he lived for four years while earning a Master of Divinity degree from Covenant Theological Seminary. Prior to his time in St. Louis, Michael studied at Westminster Seminary, where, as a young Christian, he developed his worldview thinking which he honed into a series of courses that he eventually would teach at New York School of the Bible (Manhattan).

Michael is now an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He is happily married to Roseann (almost 17 years) and has two children, Michael, Jr. and Alexandra. Besides his passion for encouraging people to find life in Christ, Michael loves visiting cities and baseball landmarks, along with listening to his extensive collection of blues, jazz, and rock music.

A St. Louis artist and illustrator writes an interesting account of his encounter with Michael:

The Saint
The Saint II

Assistant Pastor Stephen Leung

 

Assistant Pastor

Stephen is a second generation Chinese-American whose parents immigrated from Hong Kong to Kentucky. He married his wife, Vicki, in 1996 and are the parents of four young boys: Benjamin, Matthias, Isaiah, and Timothy. Stephen served in the Navy and worked for a Department of Defense contractor in various places up and down the East Coast after graduating from M.I.T. After attending Covenant Theological Seminary from 2004-2008, he was ordained in November 2008, and had served part-time as an assistant pastor at Grace and Peace Fellowship in St. Louis. He also worked with internationals as an International Student, Inc. campus minister since his time in seminary. Stephen and Vicki have been a part of both immigrant and multi-ethnic congregations over the years. Stephen served as a ruling elder in a Chinese congregation prior to attending seminary. He joined Ascension in the Summer of 2010.  With their boys and years of working experience, identification with the families around Forest Hills has been natural.

Roseann Kytka

 

A native New Yorker, Roseann has taught in regular and special education classes in both private and public schools from preschool through high school in NYC and St. Louis, MO. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Studies from St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights and Masters of Elementary Education from the College of Staten Island. Roseann takes this wide range of educational experiences to serve the church and the Forest Hills community.

The daughter of second generation Italian-Americans, Roseann was brought up with a great awareness of Jesus as God. However, the historical story of Christ did not seem practically relevant to her teenage life in urban modern society. Encouraged by a high school classmate, she explored the pages of the New Testament and at 15 years of age discovered that the biblical Jesus desired to impact her heart in personal, practical and eternal ways. Through this initial reading of the gospels and epistles coupled with a tangible expression of God's love she experienced at a local Bible church, Roseann became inspired by this life-changing gospel message. She finally began connecting the dots between the God originally defined by her Catholic upbringing with the Jesus of the Bible who, from Genesis to Revelation, reveals His longing to know His people intimately and completely.

Roseann, Michael and their two children, Michael II and Alexandra returned to NYC from St. Louis in 2004 to embark on the creation of a new local church in Forest Hills, New York with Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan. Roseann oversees AscensionKids, and encourages both Sunday School teachers and students alike to grow in the knowledge, wisdom and love of Jesus personally and corporately. The coordination of Ascension's annual summer Vacation Bible School offered to children ages 3-13 is one of the highlights of her work. Roseann also coordinates EasterFest and ChristmasFest, which are community events for our neighborhood.

Roseann enjoys making and meeting new friends, leading bible discussion groups, going to concerts, exploring the nooks and crannies of this great city, swimming and scrapbooking. With one child in high school, she is bemoaning the day when her second surpasses her in height.