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Council for Korean United Methodists provides “a seed of hope”

    The Rev. Han Sung Kim addresses the United Methodist Council on Korean American Ministries meeting in September. UMNS photos by The Rev. David Kim.

By the Rev. David Kwangki Kim*
Nov. 24, 2008 | LOS ANGELES (UMNS)

The church does not belong to those who sit on the pews but to those who are not yet in it, says a Korean American United Methodist.

Speaking in worship at the fall gathering of the United Methodist Council on Korean Ministries, Chicago Bishop Hee-Soo Jung challenged the council and Korean United Methodists to reach out to the unchurched and reclaim the power of Gospel.

“Let us have a missional vision, God-size dream for the world. The church does not belong to us who sit on the pew of church, but to those who are not in the church yet.”

The church should refocus the Gospel and bring its power into the world, he said. “The gospel changes us and it will change the world. And God entrusts us for this great task.”

In September, the United Methodist Council on Korean American Ministries developed strategies to move the Korean American National Plan forward. The plan, one of six ethnic and language plans in the church, was established by the 2000 General Conference to strengthen the denomination’s Korean ministries.

Bishops James E. Swanson, Sr. (from left), Mary Ann Swenson, Hee-Soo Jung and Jeremiah Park join in worship during the meeting in Los Angeles.

According to New York Bishop Jeremiah Park, the council has been a think tank and catalyst for the Korean American community. Park, who continues a second four-year term as council president, applauded the 16-member council for its gifts and leadership, passion and commitment. “I am very grateful that we have accomplished the goals of last quadrennium with cooperative leadership in our council by the grace of God,” he said. “This is God’s time for us to go forward for the growth and development of Korean American ministries in the spirit of commitment and service.”

The Rev. Han Sung Kim, pastor of Grace Vision United Methodist Church, Cambridge, Mass., said the council, through its meetings, teams and work, “brings a seed of hope to the local church and we will see its fruits together in the future.”

The core ministry areas of the council are church planting, next-generation ministries, leadership development, and small group ministries, all areas that dovetail with the denomination’s four areas of emphasis for the next four to eight years. The core ministry connects with creating new places for new people, starting new congregations and renewing existing ones, reaching out to young people and developing principled Christian leaders.

“Most exciting has been the development in terms of congregational development, leadership development, and next generation ministries in the Korean United Methodists, offering Wesleyan tradition and Korean spirituality to the whole United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of the California-Pacific Annual Conference, who has been involved in the council from the since its creation.

During the last four years, 15 Korean churches were planted and five were chartered. “It is grace that the council could work together with conferences, Korean mission districts and local churches and create a partnership model in strengthening the pioneering churches,” said the Rev. Paul H. Chang, executive director of the Korean American National Plan.

The council also raised more than $1 million from local Korean congregations to support new church starts. “The Korean United Methodist Church shouldn’t just depend on the denominational funds but step forward to participate wholeheartedly in the national plan with financial support and advance the church planting,” said the Rev. James C. Kim, council member and president of the National Association of the Korean United Methodists.

Before 2012, the council hopes to establish 12 new churches and charter them within 4 to 5 years. They hope to raise another $1 million to undergird church planting and development of various faith communities in cooperation with the 1,000 church/ 10,000 Faith Community/ 100,000 Disciples movement of the National Association of the Korean United Methodists.

In terms of leadership development, the council wants to train 250 clergy and 1,000 laity as small group leaders to strengthen existing congregations. The council also plans to start seven next-generation congregations, revitalize the current trans-generation ministry and youth initiative, and to build up new college initiative and children’s ministry.

During the September gathering, the council renewed its vision statement to parallel the denomination’s mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The council’s new vision is “to integrate Wesleyan tradition and Korean spirituality to make disciples for the transformation of the world.” The council seeks to integrate John Wesley’s passion and principles with Korean American United Methodists religious inheritance including prayerful and committed life as God’s stewards.

The council believes that work of its program committees and task force will bring practical strategy and resources for the whole Korean National Plan. The council collaborates with other Korean-American Methodist groups to strengthen intergenerational partnership and cross-cultural communications.

In addition to the election of Park, other officers include Jung and Swenson as vice presidents in the areas of program and finance respectively. Chang will continue his office as executive director. Bishop Robert E. Hayes, Jr. and Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. represent the South Central Jurisdictional Conference and the Southeast Jurisdictional Conference as resource persons.

*Kim is director of Korean resources and editor of United Methodists in Service at the United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.

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Korean UMC (in Korean)

Korean American National Plan

Korean American National Council

United Methodists in Service (in Korean)

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