Korean Baptists celebrate church plants, missions, increased budget

INDIANAPOLIS – “Success is not in how many are coming to church, but how many are being sent out from it,” J.D. Greear preached to the almost 700 people attending June 10-12 the 43rd annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America.

Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, spoke at the opening worship service Monday evening, June 10, to those attending what informally is known as the Korean Council.

Greear spoke of hindrances to becoming the leader of a multiplying church movement:

  • Incomplete understanding of God’s call;
  • Failure to embrace the power of the Holy Spirit;
  • Ministry idolatry (whose kingdom are you building?); and
  • Fear.

When Joseph Cho, pastor of Tidewater (Va.) Korean Baptist Church preached, he told of his Confucian father, who came to Christ in his old age. The elder Cho remembered the words to a childhood folk song, and wrote new lyrics to that tune:

“If you believe in Jesus

You go to heaven.

If you don’t

You go to hell.”

From the intensity of some preachers to the penetrating cadence of others, the Korean Council’s annual meeting seemingly draws its attendees closer to God, especially for those participating in the thrumming sound of the entire congregation speaking aloud their prayers at the same time.

The Korean Council almost always meets in the same city and during the same dates as does the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting, but in a different location because the Korean group is so large. This year the Korean Council met at the Indianapolis Marriott East, about 15 minutes east on Interstate 70 from the Indianapolis Convention Center.

While the main sessions of the Korean Council’s annual meeting took place in the Grand Ballroom, youngsters, teens and women met elsewhere in the spacious Marriott for their age- and gender-specific gatherings, all around the theme of “Rebound.”

The Tuesday morning sessions included a message from Greg Mann, Asia-Pacific Rim Affinity Group leader at the International Mission Board (IMB), followed by a variety of six workshops. Tuesday afternoons are unscheduled so Korean Council attendees can join with the other Southern Baptists voting for a new president and other items of business.

Tuesday evening celebrated missions. The Korean Council’s Overseas Board supports 52 Korean missionaries who serve in 17 nations overseas. The Home Mission Board planted four churches across North America with Korean planters over the last year.

Wednesday is the day the Korean Council convenes for its business sessions.

Three percent of the 2024 budget of $2,199,906.73 is allocated for annual meeting expenses: another 3 percent for administration, plus 54 percent for foreign missions and 13 percent for home missions. The remainder is shared among the Korean Council’s eight ministry areas, such as WMU, Brotherhood, education and more.

The 2024 budget is $312,728.53 larger than last year’s budget of $1,887,178.20, but nearly $750,000 extra was given last year – $2,636,237.38 – most in special offerings for Turkey earthquake relief.

James Kang was given a confidence vote for his third four-year stint as executive director of the Korean Council. In his report, Kang said the Korean Council is continuing with its Vision 2027 goals:

  • Sending 70 Korean missionaries through the IMB and 27 through the Korean Council;
  • Planting 30 churches in strategic and needed cities in north America;
  • Helping plateaued or declining churches to revitalize or replant;
  • Helping churches reach, baptize and disciple children;
  • Providing sabbatical support for those who need rest and refreshing opportunities;
  • Establishing a prayer retreat and missionary training center to empower more people to participate in world missions; and 
  • Encouraging churches to increase Cooperative Program and missions offerings.

“We must do our part to reach every city, every nation, every person with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Kang said. “This is the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20.”

In other election news, Young Ha Kim, pastor of Shalom Mission Church in Anaheim, Calif., was elected president without opposition. Aaron Tae Lee, pastor of El Paso (Texas) Central Baptist Church, was elected first vice president without opposition. He also received a “Flag of Gratitude” for serving 21 years at the same church.  

Hyoung Min Kim previously was elected by the Korean Council’s North Texas Association as the second vice president, because next year’s annual meeting will be in Dallas. Kim is pastor of Saebit Baptist Church in Euless, Texas.

Other officers: Chun Kuk Oh, pastor of New Light Baptist Church in Phoenix, Ariz., was elected secretary. Younggun Yoo, pastor of Rejoice the Lord Baptist Church in Lewisville, Texas, was elected accountant.

With no other business, the pound of a gavel announced the close of the Korean Council’s business at least two hours earlier than anticipated. After a long break and supper came a final worship service followed by a youth celebration.

Sung Kun Park, pastor at Berendo Street Baptist Church in Los Angeles, preached a challenge – Let’s move forward to a new frontier – from Revelation 3:7-13.

“Though we have so many challenges in our ministry, the Lord opens a door for us to move forward to a new frontier,” Park preached. “Here’s what we need: 

“We need obedience in faith. God is not a block-maker, but a way-maker. Why do we still stay in the book of Numbers? Let’s stay in the book of Acts. The number of church members doesn’t determine the size of the church, but who’s in the church determines the real size.”

A protective hand is needed too, Park preached. “When we believe that God protects us, God will keep us safe.

“We need a vision for the future,” Park continued. “The vision is not what we want but what God wants us to do for His kingdom.” 

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kyung Won Song every year since 2006 has provided translation for Korean Council articles. He is in his third year as pastor of Tacoma First Baptist Church and this year was named director of the Korean Council’s Home Mission Board. It is his last year to serve as translator. Baptist Press sincerely appreciates his contribution over the last 18 years.) 

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press.)

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