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May 6, 2000 GC-028

Study group recommends funding Korean-American ministries

CLEVELAND (UMNS) – Korean-American congregations are growing in the United Methodist Church, and the denomination’s top legislative assembly heard a request on May 6 for $3.2 million to support those ministries.

The request came from the Task Force on Korean American Ministries, which has spent four years studying the needs of that part of the church. Delegates will act on the request during General Conference, which is meeting through May 12 in Cleveland.

By the centennial of Korean immigration to U.S. territory in 2003, the United States will have more than 1.4 million Korean Americans, said Bishop Hae-Jong Kim, task force chairman. Kim, the denomination’s only Korean-American bishop, heads the church’s New York West Area

In 1903, the first Korean-American ministry of what is now the United Methodist Church began when a pastor and congregation arrived in Hawaii. By 1978, only six such congregations existed in the United States, Kim said. Today, that number has grown to more than 400 congregations and more than 500 Korean-American pastors, he said.

The task force’s goal is to make the most of this opportunity. The task force has recommended a six-part program that would carry an estimated price tag of $3.2 million, said Bishop R. Sheldon Duecker, a task force member. Its goals are to:

Provide a leadership program for clergy and lay members in bilingual and cross-cultural ministry;

Offer a leadership program for Korean-American clergywomen;

Establish 20 new next-generation congregations and 15 campus ministries;

Strengthen existing congregations and establish 30 new congregations;

Recruit 40 next-generation people for the ordained ministry; and

Create culturally relevant resource materials.

Duecker stressed the importance of stemming the silent exodus of the next-generation members, who are rarely able to speak Korean.

Delegates also heard a report on the development of a Korean-English hymnal. They are being asked to approve the proposed hymnal as an official resource of the church, and will have the opportunity to vote later in the conference. The book was developed by a Korean-English Bilingual Hymnal Committee formed by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and the United Methodist Publishing House.

After reviewing 4,000 hymns, the committee overseeing its development chose 360 for inclusion, said Kim, who also was chairman of this committee. The hymnal standardizes the translation of rituals and orders of worship and offers 95 responsive readings. The project began in 1998, and publication is expected in November 2001.

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-- Joretta Purdue

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