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NeBSM centers develop Korean church leaders

NEW YORK CITY (BP)–Every Monday afternoon, about a dozen Korean Southern Baptists travel to the New York City community of Flushing, Queens, for eight hours of intensive study. A dedicated group of current and future ministers, the students are earning master of divinity degrees through the Northeastern Baptist School of Ministry’s newest theological education center.

“The Korean church has experienced explosive growth in the United States and we’re pleased to be able to help train leaders to serve in these congregations,” said Andrew Y. Lee, NeBSM’s director of theological education.

“NeBSM’s goal is to contextualize theological education in order to minister to our multilingual and multicultural constituency,” he said, adding, “The cultural mosaic of the Northeast is a reflection of what is happening in other parts of our country as we approach the 21st century.”

Meeting at New Covenant Korean Baptist Church, the students study such courses as “Elementary Greek” and “Wisdom Literature and Ecclesiastes,” most of which are taught by Korean-speaking doctoral students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., which will grant their M.Div. degrees in partnership with NeBSM.

The sixth of NeBSM’s current theological education centers, and the second Korean-language center, the New York Korean Center benefits from the leadership of center director Robert Kim, Asian church growth consultant for the Baptist Convention of New York the past four years.

A former Southern Baptist pastor of Korean churches in Texas and Virginia, Kim, 54, received his training at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C. (M.Div., 1984) and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, Calif., (D.Min., 1991).

While continuing to help others plant at least 10 Korean-language churches in the New York City area, Kim devotes Mondays to the NeBSM center. To encourage students, he attends each Monday evening session, from 1-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

The New York Korean Center uses a 13-week semester system unlike the five-week schedule at NeBSM New York’s English-language center that meets at the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association building on West 72nd Street in Manhattan.

Since the Korean center, which opened last fall, is linked with Southern Seminary and NeBSM, Kim emphasized, it is one of the few Korean ministry training centers in the region accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Tuition is $500 per semester for Southern Baptists and $1,000 for others.

The Washington, D.C., suburb of Silver Spring, Md., is home to NeBSM’s other Korean-language center. Currently, 17 students also are studying on Mondays on a nearly identical weekly and semester schedule. For the past 12 years, center director Tae Park has been working as Asian catalytic missionary for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

Park, 58, leads the students in Supervised Ministry Education (S.M.E.) experiences and promotes the center among Korean churches across the region. The classes meet at Global Mission Baptist Church, Silver Spring, which, with more than 2,500 attenders, is the largest Southern Baptist congregation in the state convention.

The Silver Spring Korean Center offers a variety of practical courses that help students minister in their communities. Robert Cochran, director of missions for the District of Columbia Baptist Convention, is currently teaching a “Church and Community” course. In the fall, Man Poong Kim, pastor of Global Mission Baptist Church, will lead students to better understand “The Worshipping Church.”

The Northeastern Baptist School of Ministry is a partnership of the Baptist Conventions of New England, New York, Pennsylvania/South Jersey and Maryland/Delaware in cooperation with Southern Baptist Seminary Extension, the Home Mission Board and Southern Seminary.