"Every member should come, because they are members," said Chongoh Aum, executive director of the Korean Council, a fellowship of about 865 Korean churches in the United States and more elsewhere in the Americas that affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention.
When possible, the Korean Council's annual event -- which often draws more than 800 participants -- takes place at the same time and in the same city as the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting so Koreans can participate in both.
But logistical requirements trump fellowship. Koreans prefer to eat Korean food. This requires leaders to find people who can prepare genuine Korean meals at a reasonable cost. The solution is to meet in parts of the country where greater numbers of Koreans live and where local Korean Baptists will work together to prepare three meals a day, plus snacks, for four days.
The 2011 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting is set for June 14-15 in Phoenix. But in all of Arizona, there are only three Korean Baptist churches, according to the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention.
"It would be hardship for few Korean churches to prepare so much ," Aum said. In Dallas, he explained, there are many Korean churches, small and large, and a thriving commercial community informally called Koreatown.
The 30th anniversary celebration will be low-key, Aum said.
"What is important is the task before us," Aum said. "We pray to God not to thank Him for 30 years past, but to say, 'Show us the way.' We want to be obedient for what He wants us doing now and in future."
Aum said Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board, is to be an honored guest who will speak on Tuesday evening. Aaron Coe, a vice president at the North American Mission Board and another guest, is to speak Wednesday evening.
Elliff said, "It is with great joy and deep humility that I eagerly anticipate sharing with the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America. For many years Korean Baptists have impacted the evangelical world in the arenas of prayer, church planting and missions. I look forward to this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude."
Seven Korean missionaries who serve in various nations around the world are to bring reports of their work at the fellowship's annual meeting. More than 200 Koreans serve through the International Mission Board. Others are sent by churches or go out as faith missionaries who depend on God to lead people to provide financially for them.
Several breakout sessions primarily for pastors' benefit will be part of the meeting, and new officers will be elected.
"Every year we meet and praise God," said Sin K. Baik, president of the Korean Council and pastor of Atlanta New Way Korean Baptist Church. "This year we praise God for 30 years to serve Him. Every year we grow to serve God more."
Most Korean pastors across North, Central and South America were born in South Korea and have an ongoing concern for second- and third-generation Koreans who have loosened traditional ties, which will be a topic of discussion and prayer at the Korean Council's meeting.
At the same time the adults are meeting, activities are provided for children and youth. Jay Kim, a psychologist and pastor of First Virginia Korean Baptist Church in Falls Church, Va., has led the youth sessions nearly from the beginning of the Korean Council.
Kim describes the sessions as high-energy events that at both head and heart address teens' needs. Kim was a pastor's kid, as are most of the teens at the event, caught between Korean and American cultures.
"Purpose is fellowship and mission, working together," Aum said. "We pray and make plan, being obedient to God."
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message in Louisiana.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net