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‘We must come together as a family’

National Caucus of Korean Presbyterian Churches donates to help congregations of color

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

Members of the National Caucus of Korean Presbyterian Churches support the other five Racial Ethnic Caucuses with a $35,000 gift to assist during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — In a truly altruistic act of kindness and unity, the National Korean Caucus of Presbyterian Churches (NCKPC) has demonstrated what a connectional church looks like.

Rev. Byeongho Choi, Moderator of the NCKPC and pastor of Bethany Korean Presbyterian Church in Marietta, Georgia, said, “As moderator I called a meeting to ask the caucus how we could help the small churches during this very difficult time of the COVID-19 virus.”

NCKPC continues to meet monthly during the pandemic. “We were meeting offline, but there has been a shift in the paradigm from offline to online meetings,” Choi said. “It’s time to use resources to help other churches develop creative ministries and to help smaller churches.”

Choi says there are more than 350 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Korean churches; two-thirds of those churches have a membership of less than 100. “These churches are setting up their annual budget on faith,” he said.

“Korean congregations give their offering when they are in the building. However, culturally, when they are not in the building, they do not give. Since COVID-19 the Korean churches are receiving less than 50 percent of their usual offering.”

“Racial ethnic churches are having the hardest time financially during this pandemic,” he said. “We didn’t want to help only the Korean churches, but we wanted to help all of the racial ethnic churches in the difficult situations.” As a result of the pandemic and the decision to host a virtual 224th General Assembly (2020), the NCKPC’s event normally held during General Assembly has been canceled.

This cancellation allowed the caucus to redirect the funds to help the smaller Korean churches as well as the other racial ethnic churches. The NCKPC gave $35,000 to help these churches at a time when revenue is so dramatically reduced. The caucus donated $15,000 to assist smaller Korean congregations and $20,000 to the other five racial ethnic caucuses and councils: the National Asian Presbyterian Council, the National Black Presbyterian Caucus, the National Hispanic/Latino Presbyterian Caucus, the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus and the Native American Consulting Committee.

There were no stipulations or qualifications to receive the gift. “We gave the money to the caucuses and councils so that they could help their individual congregations, “said Choi. “We simply wanted to help because of COVID-19.” While the donation was made through NCKPC, the National Korean Presbyterian Women (NKPW), which is a part of NCKPC, contributed $5,000 to the total.  “Women in the Korean church are very strong and so is the women’s leadership,” said Choi. “They are always supportive in time of need and the women are always standing on the front.”

“Our desire is to support mainly the congregations with women pastors and women in leadership,” said Hearan Yang, moderator of NKPW. Choi says neither the NCKPC nor the NKPW wants to see any clergywomen fired or have their salary cut during this painful time. Choi says he hopes the actions of NCKPC and NKPW will motivate others in the church to be supportive.

“Our God is a mighty God and will give us a way out,” said Choi. “The hands of angels will give us a way out during this difficult time and there will be amazing testimonies when this is over.”

“In Korean history there was a time when pastors had no salaries, no food to eat,” said Choi. “They served the churches sacrificially; the pastors and the congregations built the church together. With COVID-19 God is strengthening us. This is a special time for the church. This just reminds us how important the worship service is. Coming together was a gift from God. During this difficult time, we must come together as a family. We are family. The PC(USA) is a family. If one child is sick the whole family is sick.”

Bethany Korean Church is doing well during this difficult time. The congregation purchased video equipment and donated it to 10 smaller churches to enable them to hold online services. Bethany members helped the churches with the technology as well.

“This time is a special awakening,” said Choi. “God is opening our eyes to new ways of evangelizing.” Bethany holds a 6:30 a.m. daily worship service. Choi says attendance is 8-10 times higher than it was in-person. Bethany’s Sunday morning service has three times the viewership as before.

“This is amazing evangelizing,” Choi said. “We have viewers from Korea, Canada and all over the world.”

“This is a time for PC(USA) churches to be encouraged. Ministry is wide open for us,” Choi said. “We don’t need the facility. With online services we can reach so many people — even those that would not come to church.”


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