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Association of Korean Churches discerns its uncertain future (UM News)

May 12, 2022

In the first in-person annual gathering of the Association of Korean Churches in The United Methodist Church, several panelists questioned whether the church’s membership decline could be attributed to a lack of spiritual renewal and its long-standing conflict over homosexuality.

The meeting was held April 25-28 at the Renaissance Hotel and Central Korean United Methodist Church in Dallas.

At the opening worship service, the Rev. Chul Goo Lee, the association’s president and pastor of Korean United Methodist Church of South Florida, preached and exhorted the participants to honor and listen to God’s voice.

“Our judgment is not perfect. Are you ministering with listening ears to the voice of God saying, ‘My presence will go with you?’” he asked. “Regardless of whether you are progressive or conservative, we must become leaders of faith who honor and listen to the words of God. If we listen to it, go that way; and if God gives you a clear message, you just hold on to it and follow.”

On the morning of the second day, retired Bishop Young-Jin Cho, interim pastor of Korean Church of Atlanta, led a discussion titled, “The Current State of The UMC and the Future of the Korean Church.”

Cho regretted that the issues that should be addressed at the General Conference have been passed to annual conferences and local churches due to the postponement of the General Conference.

He also attributed the decline of The United Methodist Church to a lack of spiritual renewal and revival.

“The UMC in America has been declining. The solution is a spiritual renewal — not a new, smarter program or initiative, which we’ve been trying to do for the last 40 years,” he said. “Because renewal and revitalization comes when pastoral leadership is transformed, we have to build churches on a spiritual foundation, not just rely on skills. I hope that the (Global Methodist Church) and UMC will compete with each other for this.”

Jinho Woo, who serves as a young adult minister at First Korean United Methodist Church in Wheeling, Illinois, urged the association to focus on how to prepare for the future.

“About 50 young adults I am serving do not understand and feel why the denomination is about to split due to the controversy over homosexuality,” Woo said.

At the evening gathering on April 27, the Rev. Chongho James Kim of Flushing First United Methodist Church, New York, preached a sermon entitled “God Does and Knows.”

“Conservatives and progressives are just a frame made by people. Now, the salvation of souls does not happen in the church, the kingdom of God is not proclaimed, and the ministry of healing the sick does not occur,” he preached. “However, Satan created a framework out of ordaining LGBTQ+ pastors that has distracted pastors who do not serve their churches diligently.”

Kim appealed for the church to obey the Lord’s command to go to Samaria.

“Samaria is a people you don’t want to meet, a place you don’t want to go to serve …. So, even if you join GMC, let’s create a miracle that the Korean church will love homosexuals with the love of Jesus. We have not respected clergywomen. Let’s make it a church where women pastors are respected at any cost,” he said.

At a business meeting on the last day, it was reported that the Korean churches had raised more than $110,000 to help victims and refugees of the war in Ukraine. Half of the money will be sent to the United Methodist Committee on Relief and the rest will be sent to churches and missions in Ukraine directly.