MARTINEZ, Calif. (BP)–When asked why people attend Concord Korean Baptist Church, pastor David Gill points to the children.
“The Koreans have such a heart for their youngsters. They’re looking for a church where their youngsters can be protected and educated.”
The Martinez, Calif., congregation ministers to first- and second-generation immigrants and their families, and it trains Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary students and its adult members to be leaders wherever God sends them.
Gill also serves as second vice president of the SBC.
“I’m challenging my Korean churches to participate in the Southern Baptist Convention and to send more missionaries through the International Mission Board,” Gill noted. “We have five families [from Concord Korean] who are now Southern Baptist missionaries, and another family is awaiting appointment.”
It all started in the fall of 1976. Gill, a GGBTS student, wanted to start a church, and the California Southern Baptist Convention sent him to Costa Meda Baptist Association southeast of San Francisco.
“They recognized my wish to start a Korean church, but I had to find Koreans,” Gill said. “My wife and I spent about one month looking for Korean names in phone books in this area. I found about 10 people with Korean names, but later on found not all Koreans — some Chinese have the same name.”
Time was an issue. Gill had told the association that a Korean church would start the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
“I called several who did not want to come church,” Gill said. “One [woman] said she may come; she had a job so she might have to work. But she came and her sister came too, and her two little daughters. So I had two families — one visiting from Hawaii.
“I’m excited even now, thinking about it,” the pastor continued. “We were praying for one family and God gave us two. God always gives us more than we ask for.”
Within three years, the Korean congregation, which met at First Baptist Church of Concord, grew to about 60 people. They soon bought a disbanded Baptist church building and stayed there six years, growing to 160 people.
Since renovating and moving into their current building in 1986, a former private high school, Concord Korean has grown to 1,000 members. About 750 attend one of two Korean services; about 70 attend the English service, which is a growing group of young people.
Concord Korean also has about 150 mostly second-generation youngsters in a Korean Culture and Language Saturday school.
“This will give them added assets and blessings for their identity,” Gill said. “The language itself will be an added asset for them, for bridging America with other Asian nations. And with this language understanding of Korean and other cultures, they will be tremendous missionaries to Korea and other Asian nations.”
Gill said he is committed to the training and nurturing of the next generation of pastors and missionaries.
“I am working with Golden Gate Seminary and I think I have 10 students now to do their intern ministry at our church,” said Gill, an adjunct faculty member. “We do it intentionally, with the purpose of raising good pastors. We offer them a ministry setting for three or four years and when they graduate we ordain them.”
Together the 1,000 multi-generational members of Concord Korean make beautiful music, the pastor said. At least 70 people from the congregation plan to travel to Nashville, Tenn., to participate in the June 18 Crossover evangelistic outreach that precedes the SBC’s June 21-22 annual meeting.
“We faithfully support the Cooperative Program because that’s the way we work together,” the pastor said of the channel by which SBC churches support state, national and international missions causes. “Independent, that’s bad. When you become big and healthy and rich, you should still work together so you can help other people too.”
Locally, Concord Korean supports a food bank near the church; it also gives scholarships to Korean high school graduates whether or not they are members of the church.
In the community, church members go together to clean up the nearby Martinez Marina on the shore of San Francisco Bay, which includes a fishing pier, bait shop and restaurant along with the boat docks.
“I like how the Baptist church is run — laypeople working together with the clergy,” Gill said. “I believe that is what Jesus had in mind. Everybody should be a missionary.
“[Another] reason I’m a Southern Baptist and I want to be a Southern Baptist is for missions, based on the Cooperative Program,” the pastor said. “Individual churches should do their own missions but I think what one church can do is so limited. But together with all Southern Baptist churches and IMB and NAMB [North American Mission Board], that’s really working better and working continually. It doesn’t stop.”