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Korean-American congregation donates $130,000 for Central Asian mission

 


Korean-American congregation donates $130,000 for Central Asian mission

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David Wu stands in a three-acre plot in Kazakhstan where a center for a Central Asia Mission may be built.
Oct. 27, 2004

By Elliott Wright*

STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS) -- A New York City Korean-American congregation is giving $130,000 to establish a new United Methodist mission center to serve Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.

The Rev. Joong Um Kim, senior pastor, and lay leaders of the First United Methodist Church of Flushing, Queens, presented the gift to the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries during its annual meeting in October.

Launched last year, the Central Asia Mission has six congregations--three in Kazakhstan, two in Kyrgystan, and one in Uzbekistan. The mission is an initiative of the denomination’s Russia and Eurasia Area. The new center will be located in Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, which is a traditionally Muslim country.

Bishop Joel N. Martinez of San Antonio, board president, and the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive, accepted the gift. "This represents a new pattern of direct mission partnership between a local congregation and the board," Martinez said.

The Flushing church is the largest congregation in the United Methodist New York Annual (regional) Conference and the denomination’s largest Korean-American U.S. congregation, with a weekly worship attendance of more than 1,000 people.

Kim went to Almaty in August 2003 as part of a delegation visiting United Methodist work begun in the area a few months earlier by the Rev. Dmitri Le. Excited by mission potential in Central Asia, he conveyed his enthusiasm to the Flushing congregation, which in September decided to invest $130,000 of its mission funds in the project.

The new center probably will be located in downtown Almaty on a three-acre track that includes an unfinished building. The asking price of the property is $80,000, with another $50,000 to $60,000 needed to complete and equip the structure.Kazakhstan is a geographically large country south of Russia and east of China. It currently has some 16 million people, a stable economy, and a democratic government. The much smaller, nearby Kyrgyzstan has a population of 4.6 million; Uzbekistan, which is southwest of Kazakhstan, has more than 26 million people. Each of these countries has small Eastern Orthodox Christian minorities. The population of Almaty, the major city in Kazakhstan, is 1.5 million.

Other Korean American congregations are also assisting with the Central Asia Mission. To date, an additional $23,400 has been received and another $10,000 pledged.

"We are very optimistic about the Central Asia Mission," Day said. "We are working closely with the Eurasia Area, currently led by Bishop Ruediger Minor in this effort."

*Elliott Wright is a communications consultant with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

News media contact: Linda Bloom·(646)369-3759·New York· E-mail: newsdesk@umcom.org.

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