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Igniting Ministry ads reach Koreans in United States

Television, radio and print ads in Korean are changing the way Korean Americans view The United Methodist Church. A UMNS image courtesy of Igniting Ministries.

A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Feb. 27, 2007

God is speaking Korean to people from Hawaii to New York in television, radio and newspaper ads that welcome them to The United Methodist Church and reassure them of God's love.

The ads are part of the denomination's national Igniting Ministry advertising campaign that began in 2001 and is coordinated by United Methodist Communications. The ads are available in English, Spanish and Korean. The Korean-language ads began running in 2003.

Ninety-seven Korean American churches are using the ads with a goal of reaching almost 1 million people in 2007.

The campaign gives matching grants annually to churches, districts and conferences to help establish an advertising presence in their communities. The grants can be used for placing television, radio, cinema, outdoor media or a combination of media spots. Igniting Ministry will provide $94,573 to Korean American churches in matching grants in 2007.

This year, churches in Hawaii, Atlanta, Chicago and New York/New Jersey are working in clusters to raise money for their local ads.

The Rev. Paul H. Chang

"It is presenting a new image of the denomination and local churches in my area," said the Rev. Paul H. Chang, executive director of the United Methodist Council on Korean American Ministries. "The Igniting Ministry campaign is helping local churches connect to each other and to invite more people."

In Hawaii, 10 churches raised $14,750 for advertisements that will run in television, radio and newspapers during Lent. Twelve churches in Atlanta raised $4,600 with plans to run ads from February to July. Fifty churches in New York/ New Jersey raised $37,400 for ads set for March and April. In Chicago, 18 United Methodist Korean American churches have a budget of $10,000 and will run newspaper ads starting in May.

Sixteen individual Korean American United Methodist churches in other parts of the United States also raised money and applied for the matching grants.

The ads feature photos of Korean Americans and include various written messages. For instance, the message "You Against the World" reminds people that God is always there, even when we turn our backs on Him. "United As One" talks about helping each other dream of a better future together in God’s world.

Each ad ends with the words "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors, The People of The United Methodist Church."

The Rev. Seungwoo Cha, pastor of First Korean United Methodist Church of Indianapolis, said ads published in his local community newspaper have promoted "a positive image of The United Methodist Church."

"Our members are very proud of The United Methodist Church and they find it is easier to talk about the church and invite family and friends because of the ads," he said. The ad investment also helps support the community newspaper, which presents the church in a positive light as well.

In New York, Korean American United Methodist churches using the ads in an evangelism campaign say they are slowly helping change the way Korean Americans see United Methodism.

"The United Methodist Church did not have a positive image in the immigrant community because it was viewed as a declining mainline denomination," said the Rev. Harkbum Chang, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in New York.

The Korean Church in Atlanta, where the Korean population has grown 44 percent over the last three years, added 400 new members during 2006, partly with assistance of the Igniting Ministry campaign, said the Rev. James C. Kim, pastor of Korean Church of Atlanta.

"First-time visitors always ask us about the ads," Kim said.

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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