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Korean Methodists choose Florida church for conference

Korean Methodists choose Florida church for conference

FORT LAUDERDALE – About 150 Korean-American UMC pastors and mission leaders from across the U.S. are expected to gather next week for a missions conference at the Korean UMC of South Florida.

Rev. Judy Chung

The three-day conference kicks off Monday and features Rev. Judy Chung, associate general secretary of the New York-based General Board of Global Ministries, as the keynote speaker.

The Fort Lauderdale church, led by senior pastor Chan-young Jang, primarily serves a first-generation Korean-speaking congregation and reflects the culture’s historic fervor for mission work.

Pastor Chris Baik, who serves the KUMC’s English-speaking ministry, said Korean Christians understand what it means to be radically changed by the Gospel.

“Korean Christianity just celebrated 100 years,” Baik said. “The power of the influence of mission work is all still very vivid to Korean Christians and churches. I heard directly from my grandfather how the Gospel changed Korea.”

South East District Superintendant Craig Nelson said the congregation’s enthusiasm for missions is evident.

“I have found them to be an incredibly mission-minded church that simply goes wherever and whenever they are invited,” he said. “I have admired and honored them for that.”

Chung said by email that the Fort Lauderdale congregation is inspirational in terms of passion and commitment for mission.

“This church is a good example of Korean American Methodists,” Chung said.

“One, mission is a part of their overall vision for the church; two, they live out their passion and commitment to mission as each small group sponsors/supports at least one missionary and one mission project through prayer, giving, and volunteering; three, several people that I spoke to have gone on a number of mission trips and expressed such compassion about the people that they are in mission with and expressed great enthusiasm about their mission work/project; four, the church designates a significant portion of their overall budget to support mission in lieu of building a bigger building for themselves.”

Chung will be talking about the priorities of Global Ministries and plans to explore how Korean UMCs can tap into the agency’s resources to strengthen and expand their mission work.

Additionally, Chung will be highlighting: 

  • the “Young Adult Mission Service”;
  • the “Korean Language Individual Volunteer Program,” which discusses how, for the first time, Global Ministries will offer Korean language training for Korean-American United Methodists in 2013;
  • the “In Mission Together” transformational partnership initiative, which encompasses local churches entering partnership covenants with new churches.

“The Fort Lauderdale conference is a fruit of the work of all of our Methodist mission throughout history,” Chung said.

“And this conference shows us how we, as the United Methodists, are continuing to be used by God to be in mission with people around the world. I think this is an occasion for the general United Methodist community to celebrate with Korean Americans and to commit to work together in expanding God’s mission around the world.”

Korean message from KUMC of South Florida
Photo from

Pastor Chris Baik said that part of the unique giftedness of Korean Americans in mission comes from understanding that “God has blessed us to be a blessing to others.”

“Coming to America was about the dream, about prosperity, wealth, and stability,” Baik said.

”But the more we live here, we realize that God brought us here – to another culture and language – to see our children have incredible mission in the language of English. We can travel anywhere in the world freely now, especially to the ends of the earth.”

Among those planning to speak at the conference is missionary Simon Kim from the KUMC’s mission in Haiti.

Members of the planning team slated to attend include Rev. Dr. Kyunglim Shin Lee, Wesley Seminary vice president; Mirhang Baik, the In Mission Together coordinator for central Asia; Rev. Seungwoo Lee, chairperson of the Global Mission Network and senior pastor of National Korean UMC in Maryland; and June Kim from the United Methodist Committee on Relief staff.

Keynote speaker Chung said she believes The United Methodist Church is well-equipped to engage the unique challenges of global ministry in the 21st century.

“The UMC is a global church with so many resources, including a rich heritage and commitment to mission,” Chung said.

“I believe, as we open ourselves to the ways that God is leading us, seeking to share out the abundance that God has blessed us with, and willingly offering ourselves to one another, God will equip us to address and overcome the challenges of global ministry in the 21st century.”