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Korean Council to hear from IMB’s Paul Chitwood

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood is slated among the speakers Tuesday evening, June 11, during the annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America.

The gathering — known informally as the “Korean Council,” encompassing about 800 churches that worship in a Korean context — will be June 10-12 at First Baptist Church of Pleasant Grove, a suburb west of Birmingham, Ala. The council meets each year in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, set for June 11-12 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

“Korean churches have been really involved in foreign missions over the years,” James Kang, the Korean Council’s executive director, told Baptist Press. “One time we had a goal of sending 1,000 Korean missionaries from our churches, but that drive was set back when the IMB [International Mission Board] was being cut back.

“With new leadership, they’re trying to once again have a new drive to promote more missionaries,” Kang said. “It’s a good time to once again motivate our pastors and leaders for a new passion for sending more missionaries, so this year we are looking at every church focusing on world missions again. We are looking forward to hearing from President Chitwood,” who was elected as the IMB’s president last November.

Meeting under the SBC annual meeting’s theme of “Gospel Above All,” the Korean Council will start with a worship service at 7 p.m. Monday and will conclude by 10 p.m. Wednesday.

No activities are scheduled Tuesday afternoon so messengers can “exercise their voting rights” in the SBC’s business deliberations, Kang said.

In addition to Chitwood, Mark Clifton, senior director of replanting at the North American Mission Board, and Hyeok Kim, pastor of Noeun Church in Daejun, South Korea, also will address the Korean Council’s main sessions.

“We want to focus on the power of the Gospel to revitalize our churches,” Kang said. “We want to motivate our pastors to focus on the Gospel once again.”

About 1 million Korean immigrants resided in the United States in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Though scattered across the nation, the largest concentrations are in the Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C., areas.

“Sharing the Gospel in our cities as well as on the mission fields is one of our very important life purposes,” Kang said. “We want to motivate our pastors and leaders to focus once again on the Great Commission of our Lord.”

The Korean Council’s three-day meeting will include reports from each of its departments — foreign and home mission boards, Sunday School, WMU and others — plus worship, preaching and Korean food at every meal prepared in part by Alabama’s 10 churches that worship in a Korean context.

Fellowship is an important component of the annual gathering, as is encouraging the pastors and leaders who often serve in places where they are isolated by language, culture and distance, Kang said.

“Getting all together is very important for celebration as well as working together,” Kang said. “That’s what this meeting is all about.”

Korean Council pastors and churches plan to focus over the next couple of years with NAMB on revitalization.

“Korean churches like many churches are slowly decreasing and some are dying,” Kang said. “There is a need for revitalization and some need to be replanted.

“We will kick off a movement of trying to revitalize, for many churches to be growing and reaching out to more people,” he said. “The main focus is the Gospel. The power of the Gospel has the way to change everything, and finding churches come to life.”

Business including the election of officers is schedule during the Wednesday afternoon session. Up for discussion, the request from an association in Georgia to become two associations.

Children, youth and women will have their own programs and activities during parts of the Korean Council meeting.