An uncontested third-ballot election for president of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America was among 35th annual meeting highlights in Tacoma, Wash.
Photo by David Chae
In traditional Korean worship during the annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America, a prayer leader called out “Che-Oh!” – “Lord,” in English – three times in a loud voice followed by the congregation’s response with upraised arms and fervent prayer voiced aloud.
The four-day gathering, attended by 600 messengers and 100 children, was held at Tacoma First Baptist Church, a Korean congregation that is the largest church in the Northwest Baptist Convention of Washington, Oregon and northern Idaho. About 2,000 people gather for Sunday worship at Tacoma First.
“Our pastor wants to serve our Korean Southern Baptist pastors,” said Paul Yoo, associate pastor for seniors. “All church members, same mind, same heart.”
In addition to an election runoff similar to that at the June 14-15 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in St. Louis, the Korean annual meeting also included reiteration of a commitment made last year to meet every year at the same time and location as the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting despite logistical challenges along with reports from each of the council’s departments serving an estimated 880 Korean churches across the country.
With the Great Commission as its theme, the Monday and Tuesday sessions of the Korean Council’s annual meeting were devoted to fervent prayer, impassioned preaching and worship in music. The main guest speaker was Peter Jae Hyuk Chin, pastor of Global Mission Church in metro Seoul, Korea, where upwards of 30,000 people gather for Sunday morning worship.
In addition to selections from several soloists and choirs were opera and instrumentalist presentations. The Soul Singers, a group of five women from Korea’s Global Mission Church, performed three times. At one point the Soul Singers sang “God Bless America,” with scenes from the Korean War rippling across the oversized screens behind them.
“We sang God Bless America because the United States took the gospel to Korea,” the leader told the congregation, as translated by Jake Ahn of Tacoma First Baptist. “Now it is going down a little bit, and South Korea is following United States. So we sing to encourage pastors and missionaries to reach out and make the U.S. strong in the Lord.”
Chin preached from Matthew 28:19-20, describing the Great Commission as entailing all authority, all nations together, all that God commanded, all the time.
“You are not alone,” Chin preached. “Jesus said, ‘I am with you.’ You don’t have to ask, ‘Are You still there?’”
Chin preached Wednesday evening from Matthew 16:18. “It’s not my church. This church belongs to Jesus,” Chin said, making his points in English and illustrating them in Korean. “He is the one who makes grow…. The gates of hell will not prevail.”
Photo by David Chae
Korean presidential candidates James Bahn (left) and Ho Young “Raymond” Lee greet each other after Lee withdraw just before a third ballot for president the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America.
In the first ballot of the presidential election, James Bahn, pastor of Indianapolis (Ind.) Korean Baptist Church, and Ho Young “Raymond” Lee, pastor of Sea World Baptist Church in San Diego, together received 35 more votes than the number of messengers in attendance at the business session when the vote was taken.
For the second vote, the number of messengers in the auditorium was counted before their ballots were collected, and both Bahn and Lee received 145 votes.
As messengers prepared to cast a third ballot, Lee announced his withdrawal, to ensure the unity of the fellowship, he said, according to Esther Park of New Song Church in Dallas, who translated the session for Baptist Press. Lee received a standing ovation for his humility, Park added.
Young Yi Choi, pastor of Dover (Del.) Baptist Church, the only announced candidate for first vice president, was elected by acclamation.
After two men were nominated as second vice president but declined to serve, Lee – the one who had withdrawn his candidacy for president – was asked to serve. He received a second standing ovation when he said yes.
Also elected as officers: secretary, Kyu Sung Park, pastor of Jusarang Baptist Church in Pasadena, Texas; treasurer, Kyung Do Kim, pastor of Flower Mound (Texas) Korean Church; and auditor, Jo Hoon So, pastor of Baton Rouge (La.) Korean Baptist Church.
2017 meeting location
Photo by Karen L. Willoughby
More than 100 volunteers from Tacoma First Baptist Church worked to provide three meals and two snacks daily during the annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America.
At the 2015 Korean Council annual meeting, messengers voted to meet each year in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting regardless of logistical difficulties related to meals. Their desire to eat Korean food requires several churches working together to prepare food for several hundred people who attend each year.
But in some cities, such as Phoenix, there aren’t enough churches. The Korean Council’s directory shows 11 Korean churches in all of Arizona. There were 50 in northwest Washington who worked together for the Tacoma annual meeting.
The question came up at least twice during this year’s sessions at Tacoma First Baptist, which had more than 100 people working between 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. preparing 12-course meals at midday and in the evening, plus breakfast and snacks.
They cooked 250 pounds of beef each meal, plus chicken, pork and fish, said Song Law, chairman of the kitchen committee. They went through almost 600 pounds of rice and 10 commercial-sized boxes of Rainier cherries.
“We can do it,” said Arizona pastor Johnathan Jung in responding to a question from the podium. “We can do it,” the pastor of Glory of the Lord Baptist Church in Chandler, Ariz., repeated, nodding his head.
The decision to meet concurrent with the SBC annual meeting was to strengthen the bonds between Korean and all others within the SBC, the council’s outgoing president, Sang Min “John” Kim, pastor of Koreans at Fayetteville (Ga.) First Baptist Church, told Baptist Press.
“We want to work together,” Kim said. “We have to understand the leadership.”
Messengers to the Korean Council at the recommendation of the Virginia Korean Baptist Association voted not to endorse two Virginia colleges that provide Korean-language instruction: Washington University of Virginia and Ivy Christian College.
Washington University of Virginia (WUV), where all classes are taught in Korean, has removed the word “Baptist” from its name and apparently has ceased to be a Baptist institution, according to Park’s translation, while Ivy Christian College (ICC), which offers several classes taught in Korean, has become associated with an institution in South Korea that is said to be heretical, a spokesman for the Korean Council’s education department reported.
At the conclusion of an hour-long discussion, the founder of ICC apologized in person for any concerns that had been raised. WUV had not responded in previous months to questions posed by the Korean Council and did not attend the annual meeting.
SBC entity reports were given Tuesday afternoon from representatives of the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, GuideStone Financial Resources, Woman’s Missionary Union, Southwestern and Midwestern Baptist theological seminaries.
Also, Paul Kim, Asian-American relations consultant with the SBC Executive Committee, reported on the formation of a new pan-Asian fellowship, A2CP2 for Asian-American Church Planting/Cooperative Program (see June 22 BR story for details).
Korean Council business was conducted Wednesday, with spokesmen each formally bowing to the messengers before beginning their reports.
With a $450,000 budget last year, $728,720.89 was received. The increase primarily was in churches’ missions giving. Next year’s $466,000 budget was approved.
The Korean Council supports the work of 29 international missionary families and one unmarried individual in 19 nations, with one new missionary commissioned at the council’s Tuesday evening session. An estimated 160 missionaries with the International Mission Board, meanwhile, list Korea as their homeland.
Messengers were told that financial support for eight new church planting Korean pastors is set to begin, while funding for five pastors by the North American Mission Board has come to an end, with support for four others continuing.
The 36th annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America is set for June 12-14, 2017, in Phoenix. New Song Church in Dallas is to host a pastor’s seminar in October and an educational seminar in November.
Three people served as translators for Baptist Press during the Korean Council’s annual meeting: Hankuk “David” Kim of New Life Baptist Church in Houston, Texas; Jake Ahn, administrative pastor at Tacoma (Wash.) First Baptist Church; and Esther Park of New Song Church in Carrolton, Texas. Yong “David” Chae, pastor of Open Community Baptist Church of Atlanta, Ga., served as photographer.