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Korean Council set for 35th annual meeting

TACOMA, Wash. (BP) — The 35th annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America has been set for June 20-23 at Tacoma First Baptist Church in Tacoma, Wash. Tacoma First is a Korean congregation and the largest Southern Baptist church in the Northwest Baptist Convention of Washington, Oregon and northern Idaho.

The meeting has been scheduled for late June to allow its group to attend the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis June 14-15.

David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, is to be a guest speaker during the Korean Council’s meeting, as is Randy Adams, executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention, and Kaehyek Kim, pastor of Global Baptist Church in Seoul, South Korea. Worship will be led by several churches, including Tacoma First.

“It is our great honor to host this annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America,” said Sung Eun “David” Choi, pastor for nearly five years of Tacoma First, where about 1,000 people participate in Sunday morning worship.

Choi — pronounced “Chay” by Koreans — with a solid background in evangelism and church planting, follows Chang Moon, who pastored the church for 35 years. Moon remains a member of the church, focusing his attention on the church’s varied missions endeavors.

“We have been praying for this meeting since January,” said Su Jin Choi, the pastor’s wife. “Our whole church congregation will be involved. We are trying to find ways we can welcome them, serve them, encourage them.”

This year is the first time for Tacoma First to host the Korean Council’s annual meeting, and it is the first time for the Southern Baptist ethnic fellowship to gather in Washington state.

“All the Baptist pastors in America are really excited,” Choi’s wife said. “They are wanting to come to Seattle.”

With “The Great Commission: All Together” as its theme, and Matthew 28:19-20 as its scriptural focus, this year’s Korean Council will hear reports from its various departments. The fellowship is patterned after the Southern Baptist Convention, with home and foreign mission boards, plus education, church planting and related emphases.

A number of breakout sessions have been developed, including ones for pastors’ physical and spiritual health, educational seminars, worship tips and many more. Activities also are planned for children and for youth. They will meet while adults are meeting, with parents picking them up for meals.

The Korean Council prefers to meet for its annual meeting concurrent with the SBC’s annual meeting so they can participate in some of the denomination’s business sessions. But logistics dictate elsewhere some years.

Local churches are asked to prepare three meals a day plus snacks for the four-day event, because the 800 or more attendees — many of whom are immigrants — prefer to eat only Korean food. When there are not enough churches to do this, the Korean Council looks for an alternate venue, usually the week following the SBC annual meeting.

About 13,000 Koreans live in Missouri; Southern Baptists minister through 10 churches statewide, and only one in St. Louis, where the SBC annual meeting is to take place June 14-15.

In contrast, about 80,000 Koreans live in Washington state; at least 30 Southern Baptist churches minister in the Puget Sound area, including Tacoma First Baptist.

More than 1.7 million Koreans live in the U.S., up 41 percent since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 750 Southern Baptist Korean churches minister among them.

“Koreans should come to the Korean Council annual meeting because they are Korean,” said Chongoh Aum, executive director of the Korean Council. “It’s a good time for fellowship and encouragement. We will be refreshed and renewed for what God has for us to do to bring Him glory.”