From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Centennial Sunday will celebrate Korean-American ministries

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Tue, 17 Dec 2002 15:07:43 -0600

Dec. 17, 2002  News media contact: Kathy Gilbert7(615)742-54707Nashville,
Tenn.	10-35-71B{577}

By United Methodist News Service

The United Methodist Church will observe Jan.12 as Centennial Sunday for
Korean American Ministries, honoring the arrival of the first Korean
Christians in Hawaii in 1903.

Celebrations will culminate in an April 24-27 celebration in Hawaii. Bishop
Hae-Jong Kim, leader of the church's Pittsburgh Area and chairman of the
planning committee for the celebration, asked the Council of Bishops to
support the event in a resolution. The bishops are encouraging local churches
to observe the Jan. 12 anniversary.

"It is our wish that it should not be just a 'Korean' celebration but a
churchwide one, for it is the Mission Board of the Methodist Church that
began the mission first, before any other denomination was involved," Kim

The National Association of Korean American United Methodist Churches and the
denomination's Board of Global Ministries are working together with other
boards and agencies of the church to plan the celebration.

The theme of the celebration is "To Remember the Past, Celebrate the Present
and Envision the Future," said the Rev. Jong Sung Kim, executive director of
the Centennial Planning Council.

"This celebration will be the most significant event in the life of
Korean-American ministries through which the contribution and partnership of
Korean American United Methodist churches can be recognized in the U.S.," he

In commemoration of the centennial, the Korean United Methodist community has
committed to raising $60,000 for a mission center in Mongolia in partnership
with the Board of Global Ministries. 

Last April, 21 Korean-American United Methodist clergy and lay leaders went
to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, where they visited mission sites, participated in
programs and discussed ways to help the church in that part of Asia.

Regional celebrations were held in New York, New Jersey, Boston, Los Angeles,
Washington, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco between May
and October. The celebrations enabled local Korean-American communities as
well as annual conference leaders to join together to celebrate the

The first group of Korean Christians in Hawaii came from Inchon Naeri
Methodist Church. They arrived in Honolulu on Jan. 12, 1903, after a 17-day
journey from the port city of Inchon. A celebration commemorating that event
was held at Inchon Naeri Methodist Church Nov. 16-17, and a special sculpture
was commissioned for the church in appreciation of its contribution. 

The Korean Christians became laborers in sugar cane fields. After hearing
that the immigrants were meeting in small-group gatherings, Inchon Naeri
Methodist Church sent Soon Hwa Hong, a missionary pastor, to minister among
them. With his leadership, the small groups became a church.

The Hawaii mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church took the opportunity to
serve the immigrant population, and it established the first Korean-speaking
church in Honolulu in November 1903. The church became the center for the
Korean community, providing a place for spiritual development as well as
education. It also was a focal point of support for Korea's independence from
Japan, a cause that church members funded from their own wages. In so doing,
they helped lift their native country out of the ashes of colonization. That
first congregation is known today as Christ United Methodist Church, one of
the largest in the denomination's California-Pacific Annual (regional)

Since 1965, when the United States lifted its prohibition of Korean
immigration, many Koreans have moved to the mainland and settled around major
cities. New congregations have been born, and most of them are Methodist
churches because of the influence of the Korean church in Hawaii.

Since its beginning in 1903, the Korean-American United Methodist church
community has grown to more than 420 congregations with 100,000 members. More
than 540 Korean-American clergy - including more than 100 women - serve in
Korean-speaking and cross-racial appointments, as well as the church's boards
and agencies. 
# # #

United Methodist News Service
Photos and stories also available at:

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home