LINTHICUM, Md. (BP) — About 800 people from 600 Korean Baptist churches in 40 states including Alaska and Hawaii gathered for the Council of Korean Baptist Churches’ annual meeting.
The theme for the June 18-20 meeting in Linthicum, Md., was “Churches Planting Churches.” The keynote speaker was Sun Ro Kim from Han Ma Eum Baptist Church in Kangwon Province, South Korea.
Sung Ho Kim, pastor of Living Stone Korean Baptist Church in Dallas, was elected as president of the council, which also approved resolutions emphasizing the need for church planting and voicing opposition to same-sex “marriage.”
“This is one of our biggest turnouts,” Chuno Chi, pastor of Laurel (Md.) Korean Baptist Church and executive secretary of the council, said of the sessions at the Westin Baltimore Washington Airport hotel.
Chi said having the meeting in the Baltimore/Washington area where there is a heavy concentration of Koreans was a factor in the large turnout.
The other reason, Chi said, was the issue of same-sex “marriage” in Maryland. Many pastors made special arrangements to attend because of that reason, especially with the meeting being so close to the nation’s capital, Chi said.
“It’s important to teach what is going on, to make people aware,” said Samuel Cho, founder and pastor of Nepal Baptist Church and Bhutan Baptist Church in Baltimore who is leading a petition drive against same-sex “marriage” for the council. More than 500 people signed the petition.
Other topics highlighted at the meeting, Chi said, were church growth, embracing the nations and encouraging second-generation Koreans.
Chi said immigration has been decreasing, making it even more important for Korean churches to reach out to other cultures.
While the adults packed the main meeting room where they worshipped and listened to speakers, children as well as youth and young adults — particularly pastors’ kids — had special areas to sing, pray and meet with their peers.
The youth worship included praise bands and messages by Jey Kim, pastor of First Virginia Baptist Church in Springfield, Va. The youth also had opportunities for fellowship by watching movies, participating in talent shows and even going to Six Flags Theme Park.
The program was helpful to the children, said Eric Kim, a media support assistant with First Virginia Baptist Church. “They really focus on the struggles preachers’ kids go through,” he said.
“The kids meet each year, and they stay in touch,” Cho noted.
Robert Kim, a Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware missionary for Asian church planting and evangelism, Asian church development and language churches, said ministering to young people is a major emphasis for Korean churches. Reaching them and discipling them is important so they eventually can take over the ministries.
This year’s meeting drew the largest number of second-generation Koreans ever, with 180 registered.
Representatives from the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board gave presentations and manned display tables. Messengers and visitors stopped by a food area and loaded up plates with a variety of Korean foods.
Breakout session topics included learning techniques for Bible memorization, educating children, encouragement for pastors’ wives and information on ministering to aging adults.
Robert Kim said the annual meeting is a great time of fellowship and encouragement. “It lets us know we’re not alone,” he said.
The council will meet in Houston next June in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Sharon Mager is a correspondent for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.