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Korean Council elects new executive director

PHOENIX (BP) — James Kang was elected on a second ballot to a potentially unlimited term as executive director of the 830-church fellowship known as the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America, and as the “Korean Council.”

And after discussing for nine years changing the constitution and bylaws of the 36-year-old fellowship, the legal documents were passed without discussion.

The annual meeting of the Korean Council took place June 12-14 at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix, in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center. The Korean Council includes churches from North, Central and South America.

In addition to the election and vote on the constitution and bylaws, the record number of nearly 900 attendees heard reports from each of the council’s departments, passed a $756,000 budget — same as last year — prayed, worshiped and listened to messages preached by leaders from South Korea.


Kang, pastor for the last 20 years of Global Community Church in Portland, Ore., received the most votes on the first ballot for executive director, but with four candidates, not a majority. On the second ballot he received 230 votes to Taeuk Kim, pastor of Korean American Grace Baptist Church in Harley Heights, Texas, who received 201 votes.

“Helping Korean churches and serving them is an honorable mission for me,” Kang told Baptist Press. “The call of God to this work is to extend the Kingdom of God.”

The two other candidates for executive director were Byung J. Kim, pastor of Waynesboro (Penn.) Korean Baptist Church, and Jang Hu Noh, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship Church in Springfield, Mo.

In the revised legal documents, which passed before the elections, the executive director is to serve four years. In his third year, a vote of confidence in his leadership is to be taken at the annual meeting. If he receives a majority of votes, he will be able to continue for another four-year term, continuing indefinitely, with votes of confidence taken in every third year of his four-year term.

Kang plans to relocate to the Dallas area within two months, as required by the Korean Council’s constitution and bylaws.

Raymond Y. Lee, pastor of Sea World Baptist Church in San Diego, Calif., received 442 votes to win the presidency over Young Choi, pastor of Dover Korean Baptist Church of Dover, Del., who later was elected first vice president. In Gyun Oh, pastor of Hanuri Korean Baptist Church of Carrollton, Texas, was elected second vice president. The revised legal documents permit a president to serve a second, one-year term. Previously they served a total of one term.

Before he convened the Wednesday morning business session of the three-day conference, outgoing president Gi Youl Kahn spoke of the 12 pastors and/or their wives who had died during the previous 12 months. He led a time of prayer for their families and for those left to carry on their ministry.

Kahn, pastor of Korean Baptist Church of Indianapolis, Ind., then set a “serious yet light” tone for the meeting when he said, “Let’s not fight,” according to translation provided to Baptist Press by Kyung Won Song, pastor of Binghamton (N.Y.) Korean Baptist Church.

Legal documents

Discussion on revising the constitution and bylaws have been a part of each of the Korean Council’s annual meetings for several years. This year, Kahn explained the work done by that committee over the last year to ensure everything was correct, including discussion with and work by the SBC’s attorneys.

“So today there will be no discussion,” Kahn said. “Please vote yes or no.” The revised constitution and bylaws passed without further comment.

Among the amendments, only those churches that financially support the Korean Council will be allowed to vote. Previously, anyone who attended was allowed to vote.

Churches wanting to join the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America must affirm the Baptist Faith and Message, and support the Council with at least 1 percent of their undesignated income.

Two churches, having been credentialed by the Korean Council’s executive committee, were accepted into membership: Managua (Nicaragua) Korean Baptist Church, and Jung Gum [Refined Gold] Church of Pocatello, Idaho.

These are the first existing churches (not including church plants) to have joined the Korean Council in several years, the president said.

“We need more Korean churches in Arizona,” said that state convention’s executive director, David Johnson, when he brought greetings during the Monday evening session to the gathering. Arizona has 11 Korean Southern Baptist churches.

Other reports

When word was sent to churches that only those that financially supported the Korean Council would be allowed to vote, 32 churches contributed that had not previously given. This resulted in a total income of $928,200.

Nonetheless, the 2018 budget was set for $756,000, the same as 2017. It passed without discussion.

The Korean Council — Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America — is organized similarly to the SBC, with departments for national missions, international missions, education and more.

Fifteen church plants are receiving $400 a month for three years. This money comes from the Domestic Missions budget, which also provides a one-year scholarship of $500 to graduating high school seniors of pastors planning to attend college. This year, 35 students will receive the scholarship.

The Foreign Missions department published 5,000 copies of a colorful and illustrated Spanish-language Children’s Bible. They’re available for $10 from the Korean Council.

The Foreign Missions department in 2016-17 endorsed two families for international service with funding through the Korean Council; two additional families were endorsed at the 2017 annual meeting. The Foreign Missions department funds the work of 57 Korean missionaries.

Forums took place again this year of English-ministry leaders and their Korean counterparts, one at the Arizona Grand Resort and “Part Two” Tuesday afternoon at the Phoenix Convention Center, to build understanding.