A Visit to the Church of Korea

by Jeff Ritchie

Monday, October 3 two young pastors and I left for South Korea to begin the 2016 Emerging Leaders Vision Trip. The Rev. John Pflug is pastor of Windermere Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Wilmington, NC. The Rev. Josh Hanson is teaching pastor of Gateway Church (EPC) in Findlay, OH.

Arriving in the evening one day later, we joined up with eighteen people who had been invited by the Rev. James Kwon, Moderator of the Northwest Coast Presbytery of the PC(USA). The Rev. Kwon had wanted to give people of the presbytery an opportunity to see the Church of Korea which is a fruit of the sacrificial labor of missionaries, many of whom were Presbyterian. Because the aims of our trips were so close, our two groups became one for a ten-day experience of the rich faith and mission outreach of the Church in Korea.

On our first full day we went to the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, founded in 1901 by Presbyterian missionary Samuel Moffett. The Rev. Kwon spoke at the chapel service, following which we received a briefing on the history and current vision of the seminary over lunch. Then we went to a new ministry center within the seminary, the Glocal Ministry Center.

This center was born out of the last forty years of global mission involvement by the Korean Church. The Center works with Korean missionaries and ecumenical partners to provide global internship opportunities for the seminary students lasting from two weeks to three months. The aim of these global experiences is to enlarge the students’ understanding of God’s mission and prepare them for participation in that mission upon graduation—as a pastor, as a mission worker in a domestic non-government organization, or as a missionary in another land. Several students shared with our group how their internships had impacted them. Two of the three students shown in the above picture told us that they had been inspired while in Germany by the interest of the German Church in the reunification of North and South Korea. They told us that because of internship they were feeling called to a greater personal commitment to work for the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas.

We had come to Korea to see the Church and its special mission challenges and opportunities. Through our time at the Glocal Ministry Center of the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary we realized that the seventy year division of the Korean peninsula is one of the top mission concerns of the Church. On the following day we were going to see how personal that issue is for one of our Presbyterian mission co-workers.

Jeff Ritchie
Associate Director for Mission