Koreans to grow churches, increase giving
HOUSTON (BP) -- Korean Southern Baptists will work to plant 265 more Korean churches in the U.S. within the next five years and increase their Cooperative Program giving by 250 percent, leaders of the group told Baptist Press at the annual meeting in Houston.
Goals are to increase the number of churches from 735 to 1,000, and to increase CP giving from $140,000 to $360,000, leaders of the Korean Council of Southern Baptist Churches in America said, as more than 700 members from 32 states and five nations gathered at Seoul Baptist Church in Houston for the annual business meeting.
Newly elected Korean Council President Junsuk "Peter" Hwang, pastor of First Korean Baptist Church in Philadelphia, said he would like the group to be recognized as a "language convention" by the Southern Baptist Convention.
"My real desire is that the SBC should recognize Korean Council as a language convention, just like a state convention," said Hwang, a member of the SBC's Asian Advisory Council. "They don't have to fear creating a language convention. We are all together at the same table for the Kingdom of God."
As the Korean Council works to increase financial giving, it can function on a matching funds basis with the North American Mission Board, Hwang said.
"Then we can do more work for the Kingdom," he said.
His goals also include restructuring the group; developing educational curricula written not only in Korean but also from within a Korean context; and developing a network of Korean churches around the world to gather perhaps every five years for global celebration, inspiration and motivation.
Worship during each of the Korean Council's six sessions included fervent prayer, sermons and singing celebrating God's work among and through Koreans, challenging members to love each other and share God's love.
The Korean Council is organized similarly to the SBC, with a Domestic Mission Board, Foreign Mission Board, and Education Board, among other entities, which relayed reports to the group at the annual meeting.
The Domestic Mission Board provides help for beginning churches and struggling churches, reported DMB director Kyung Tae Cha, pastor for 23 years of Bethany Korean Baptist Church of Layton, Utah. In all, 58 churches provided assistance in 2012 ranging from $30 to $600 to 44 pastors, Cha said, and the DMB gave $500 scholarships to 25 students.
"A mountain grows from one grain of sand," Cha said, quoting an ancient proverb. He asked churches to increase their giving to the DMB in order to provide an increase from $200 to $400 for the neediest of Korean Baptist pastors.
The DMB has three goals, Cha said: to start more churches; lead in a World Mission Conference in each state convention; and to provide materials for doctrinal purity.
The Foreign Mission Board supports the work of Korean missionaries in Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Turkey, China, Korea, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Africa, reported FMB director Sewon Suh, pastor of Orlando (Fla.) Central Baptist Church. Fifteen FMB members visited Nicaragua in December 2012 for mission exploration, Suh added.
The FMB decided in December 2012 to pay for life insurance for its missionaries at an expected monthly cost of about $1,500.
Through the work of the Education Board, about 200 people participated in Training for Trainers seminars for pastors, reported board director Haengbo Lee, pastor of Korean Unity Baptist Church of Nashville.
A Korean Council exhibit hall filled with displays and items for Koreans was a major attraction at the annual meeting. So too were meals, with a traditional Korean eight-course meal served three times a day provided by churches in Union Baptist Association.
Fourth-graders through high school seniors met for the annual high-energy "I'm a PK" program led by Jay Kim of First Virginia Baptist Church of Springfield, Va. Children through the third grade had their own age-graded day camp-style activities.
"All of us gathering together is the best part," said Jon Kim of New Song Baptist Church in Carrollton, Texas.
Chongoh Aum was re-elected in a run-off as executive director of the Korean Council. He and Jangho Rho, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo., had garnered the most votes from an initial field of four. The executive director is the only paid member of the Korean Council; the position is up for re-election every four years.
Hwang, former first vice president, was elected without opposition to a one-year presidential term, as were Jong Soo Han, pastor of Irvine Baptist Church in Irvine, Calif., as first vice president; Sangki "Sam" Kim, pastor of Bansuk Korean Baptist Church in Newport News, Va., as second vice-president; John Kim, pastor of Korean Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Ga., as secretary; Young Gi Han, pastor of Disciple Baptist Church in Carrollton, Texas, as treasurer; and Timothy Kim, pastor of Lighthouse Korean Baptist Church of Cliffside Park, N.J., as auditor.
The council adopted a 2014 budget of $680,000, an increase from this year's $660,000. The new budget includes anticipated offerings of $410,000 designated for domestic, foreign and education concerns.
After some discussion, a committee was formed to examine the beliefs of Intercorp, a missions organization based in Korea that wants to expand into the United States. Seven denominations in South Korea recently determined Intercorp practiced heresy. One pastor at the Korean Council said he had used their materials for years and didn't have a problem. Another pastor spoke of his objection to the materials.
The committee to study Intercorp will consist of two pastors selected by the council's executive director, president and vice president, and three theological professors, Joe S. Kwon, director of the Korean Council's department of theology; Jonathan Kim of Dallas Baptist University; and Dongsun Cho of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Tuesday (June 11) morning session allowed participants to attend two small group presentations from a selection of 18 sessions featuring both personal and pastoral growth topics, including "Motherwise," to help women experience the fullness of their faith; "Pastor's health," which encouraged pastors to be fit in order to be the most effective for God; "Training the Trainer" for pastors to enable their members to lead.
The council's exhibit hall included displays from each of the six Southern Baptist seminaries and a display from Washington Baptist University in Annandale, Va., organized 35 years ago for Koreans, offering bachelor's and master's degrees in nine fields and a doctorate in ministry.
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message, newsjournal for the 1,600 Southern Baptist churches in America. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).