|Korean American Methodist leaders hold summit|
The first-ever Korean American
United Methodist summit opens a session with prayer. The event in
Englewood, N.J., brought together church leaders from
across the United States. UMNS photos by Keihwan Ryoo.
A UMNS Report by Kathy L. Gilbert*
April 11, 2007
In the first meeting of its kind, leaders of the Korean American
United Methodist community gathered to share celebrations and challenges
and develop a vision to renew and embolden their ministry in the United
The March 18-20 summit in Englewood, N.J., brought together 32
church, annual conference, district, general agency staff, Korean
American caucus, seminary and laity leaders. Bishops Hee-Soo Jung and
Jeremiah Park led the event.
Organized by the United Methodist Council on Korean-American Ministries,
t he gathering was designed "to empower us, to give us strength and
resources to work toward the future," according to Jung.
The Korean American United
Methodist community has much to share including a strong mission and
passion for disciple-making, says Bishop Hee-Soo Jung.
"We believe our church will continually grow and lead the turnaround movement in our denomination."
There are approximately 60,000 Korean American United Methodists,
with 310 churches in 40 states, according to the Rev. Keihwan Ryoo,
editor of United Methodists in Service, a Korean-language
magazine published by United Methodist Communications. Korean American
Methodism celebrated its centennial in 2003.
Visioning doesn't happen in a vacuum, said the Rev. Youngsook C. Kang, describing the importance of the summit.
Kang, of the Rocky Mountain Annual (regional) Conference, is the
first Korean woman to serve as district superintendent. "I maintain hope
that a new future will be created where justice is reality and the weak
are made strong," she said.
Participants hope this first meeting leads to more connections in the community.
"There were plenty of disappointments and celebrations within the
Korean United Methodist community," said Yooeui Sohn, a lay leader from
Korean Church of Atlanta, Duluth, Ga. "To bring them up and to find how
well they were shared by the fellow Korean United Methodists impressed
me. It is a beginning that can go a long distance."
Jung said the Korean American United Methodist community has much to
share including a strong mission and passion for disciple-making. "The
general church may learn from Korean United Methodist community about
our commitment to the global mission in places such as Russia, Mexico,
SouthEast Asia, Central Asia and all other regions," he said.
“We believe our church will continually grow and lead the turnaround movement in our denomination.”
–Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
The Korean American community is enthusiastic about planting new
missions in many former communist areas in partnership with the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries, Jung said.
The Rev. Paul H. Chang, executive director of the Council on
Korean-American Ministries, identified the community's greatest
challenges as growing and revitalizing Korean American congregations,
dealing with the issue of changing identity for the Korean American
United Methodist community and developing more English-speaking,
"For me, one of the greatest challenges for the Korean American
church is recruitment and development of pastoral leadership who can
minister in the English-speaking context or multi-cultural context,"
"Without such leadership development, the growth of the
first-generation-oriented Korean American Church in the present may
cease to occur. Certainly it is a great challenge to provide connections
to English-speaking generations who feel disconnected with the
*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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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