Korean council: More church plants needed

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jun 30, 2014 5:52 PM
HERNDON, Va.(BP)-- At its 33rd annual business meeting, leaders of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America challenged members to start more church plants and to continue equipping and supporting their existing churches and missionaries, while calling for increased missions giving, revival and unity.

The gathering, held June 23-25, at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport in Herndon, Va. drew 750 Korean Baptists from 30 states and from 6 nations, including Turkey, Egypt, Venezuela, Guatemala, Korea and the United States.

Newly elected president Sung K. Wee, pastor of New Life Church in Freemont, Calif., said he supported the current goals of the council but would focus his efforts on planting multi-ethnic missions in addition to Korean language churches.

"We want to open our hearts to others," he said. "I think the Lord wants us to reach more people."

Recognizing the declining attendance in churches overall, Wee said this is a crucial time for the church.

"We need praying churches," he said, "and also revival among our existing churches."

After his election as council president during Wednesday's business session, Wee called leaders forward to pray with him and his wife Lois. The couple knelt to pray as council members laid hands on them.

In keeping with the SBC's 2014 theme on prayer, Wee said he would encourage council churches for increased prayer as the council continues its relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board.

Paul Kim, chairman of the Asian-Advisory Council for the SBC, and a long-time friend of Wee's, said he looks forward to serving with Wee and helping to connect him with SBC leaders.

"My impression of this meeting is that the council has a strong desire for prayer and has the humility and unity to work together to advance the kingdom of God," Kim said.

Outgoing council president Peter Hwang, pastor of First Korean Baptist of Philadelphia, told Baptist Press he hopes the council's work will be "a stepping stone for our next generation (second-generation Koreans)."

Hwang said the council has the dual responsibility of serving both first- generation Koreans and second-generation Koreans. There are about 750 to 800 first-generation Korean churches and 50 to 100 second-generation churches in the United States, he said.

Church planting is challenging as numbers of Korean immigrants have decreased, Hwang said. That combined with the aging of the population and the trend of short-term church members who may come to study in the United States for a few years, for example, and then return to Korea makes it difficult.

Hwang supported a bill that would nearly double funding for Korean council missions. The bill was defeated in a vote during Wednesday's business session. He presented his "Gideon 113" campaign which called for 300 churches to give $100 per month totaling a $300,000. Messengers cast 163 votes for a $170,000 missions' budget instead. Hwang's plan received 101 votes. Six ballots were unmarked and seven were disqualified.

The council's missions budget is in addition to the almost $1 million that the council gives annually to the Cooperative Program of the SBC.

President Wee said he plans to fundraise for the council's missions within the churches asking for contributions without adding mandatory giving to churches' budgets.

Reports

The Korean Council is organized similarly to the SBC, with a Home Mission Board, Overseas Mission Board, and Education Board, among other entities, which relayed reports to the group at the annual meeting during its six sessions. They included worship, singing, and hearing testimonies to encourage members in their ministries.

Tuesday evening (June 24) featured domestic missions. The council's Home Mission Board provides assistance for beginning and struggling churches, reported HMB director Kyung Tae Cha, pastor of Bethany Korean Baptist Church of Layton, Utah. In an opening discussion, Seung Bin Park, who was chairman of the council's HMB for 15 years, challenged members to give sacrificially to the council's missions.

"God's kingdom is much bigger than we think," Park, pastor of Korean Baptist Church of Memphis, Tenn., said. "We need more faithful workers. Let this be the night for God to touch your heart to give your life to Him."

Cha reported that 60 churches gave $107,000 to assist 30 churches in 2013. The board also provided $500 scholarships to more than 20 students, children of council pastors. It also distributed Korean translated books of "Mormon Scrapbooks" by Daniel Thompson. The popular book is used to teach believers about Mormonism.

On Wednesday morning (June 25), Joseph Cho, chairman of the Korean Council's Overseas Missions Board (KBOM), reported that the council supports the work of 40 Korean missionaries in China, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Africa, Guatemala, Venezuela, Jordan, Egypt, Dominican Republic and Thailand. The board received $311,000 in 2013 from member churches.

KBOM also continues to support three seminaries: Nicaragua Baptist Seminary, Caribbean Evangelical Seminary in Venezuela and Baptist seminaries in five locations in South Asia. In December 2013, a team of 14 trustees and their wives visited the Dominican Republic missionaries Ki Chul Choi and his wife. The couple's ministry has started two church plants and trains Haitian pastors. The board gave $10,000 to help complete construction on the Strong Tower Church in Nicaragua.

Wednesday evening foreign missionaries were honored. The KBOM held an Easter missionary appointment service. Executive Director James Kang presided as five missionaries were appointed: Seung and Hyun Lim, Asia; Daniel and Hyungmee Choe, Guatemala; and D. Lee in Asia.

Korean Woman's Missionary Union leader Angela Kim, of Calvary Korean Baptist Church in Houston, reported that Koreans want to implement more missions education for Korean second-generation Koreans. For 20 years, WMU has translated curriculum in Korean.

"Missions education for children and youth today is the best missions strategy," Kim said.

Other Activities

During Tuesday's breakout sessions, WMU provided missions education training for leaders of preschool and children. Other meeting seminars included Guidestone's retirement and financial planning; Go Thrive, coaching for pastors; How to evangelize Mormons; workshops for pastors' wives and Motherwise, a workshop for women to grow in their faith.

Fourth-graders through high school seniors met for the annual high-energy youth program led by Jey Kim, senior pastor of First Virginia Baptist Church of Springfield, Va. Children through the third grade had their own age-graded day camp activities.

The council's exhibit hall included displays from several Southern Baptist seminaries, Guidestone, NAMB, IMB and WMU.

Elections

Sung K. Wee, pastor of New Life Church of Freemont, Ca. was elected to a one-year term. He received more votes that nominee Chang Keun Park of The Bentonville Korean Baptist Church of Rogers, Ariz.

Elected as first vice-president was John S. Kim, pastor of Fayetteville First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Ga.; as second vice-president, Young Choi, pastor of Dover Korean Baptist Church of Dover, De.; as secretary, Tae Doo Kim, pastor of Greenwood Korean Baptist Church of Greenwood, Ind.; as treasurer, Kwang Do Kim, pastor of Flower Mound Korean Church of Flower Mound, Texas.; as executive director, Chongoh Aum of Hanuri Korean Baptist Church of Carrollton, Texas. Aum will serve in his third term -- one was a two-year term, and the other was a four-year term. This will make Aum's seventh year as executive director which is the only paid position. All officers were elected to one-year terms.

Other Business

The council is undecided about the venue for its 2015 annual meeting. It is considering Northern California, home state of President Wee, and Ohio. The SBC will hold its 2015 meeting in Columbus, Ohio, and the council usually follows the SBC in its location to allow its members to attend both meetings. This year the SBC met in Baltimore and the council chose to meet nearby in northern Virginia two weeks later.

Laura Sikes writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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