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Revamping constitution tops Korean fellowship agenda

PHOENIX (BP) — Discussion on major changes to the constitution and bylaws of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America will be among top agenda items during the fellowship’s annual meeting, Executive Director Chongoh Aum said.

The Korean Council’s annual meeting is set for June 12-14 at the Arizona Grand Resort Hotel in Phoenix. The gathering will be in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, which meets June 13-14 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

“We [Koreans] are going to attend the SBC [annual meeting] Tuesday afternoon,” Aum said. “We must attend. It’s a symbol we are one denomination.”

At least 800 Koreans are expected to participate in their fellowship’s three-day annual gathering.

The last time the SBC annual meeting was in Phoenix, in 2011, the Korean Council met for its annual meeting in Carrollton, Texas, because of logistical concerns related to providing meals for attendees. Of the more than 800 Korean churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Arizona has just 11 of them. In Washington state, where the 2016 fellowship gathering took place, there are 50 Korean Southern Baptist churches.

But as the result of a vote at the Korean Council’s 2015 annual meeting, starting this year the fellowship’s annual meeting is to take place in the same city at the same time as the SBC annual meeting, regardless of the number of local Korean churches, in order to foster relationships with non-Korean Southern Baptists.

“We can do it,” said Arizona pastor Johnathan Jung in responding to a question from the podium last year. “We can do it,” the pastor of the Glory of the Lord Baptist Church in Chandler, Ariz., repeated, nodding his head.

The Korean Council’s annual meeting — which includes separate children’s and teen’s gatherings each day — is to start with dinner at 5 p.m. Monday, June 12, followed at 7 p.m. with a worship service. The evangelistic theme for the gathering is “Awake the brothers, Send to all the nations!” The scripture is Matthew 28:19-20.

Business sessions are set for Tuesday morning, Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon. In addition to discussion on the constitution and bylaw changes, a panel discussion with English-speaking and Korean-speaking leaders is planned. Attendees will also hear reports on home and foreign missions activities as well as education and finance. New officers also will be elected.

The elections will include a new executive director. Aum is retiring after completing two four-year terms.

“I finish my job as executive director so I am going to the next step,” Aum said. “I am waiting for God’s guidance. Maybe I am going abroad as a missionary.” One possibility is Guatemala, the executive director said. He plans to visit there in July.

During his two terms, the number of Korean Southern Baptist churches has increased, as has the number of Koreans called to the mission field, Aum said. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment is the unity he sees today in the Korean Council. Ten years ago the council appeared to be in danger of splitting into two as a result of diverging Korean-speaking and English-speaking churches.

The problem has grown from the 1990s in Korean churches, Ray Park, pastor of Journey of Faith Church in Irving, Texas, explained to Baptist Press during the Korean Council’s annual meeting last year in Tacoma, Wash. Both English-language and Korean-language churches need help from each other but, because of language, cultural and generational issues, these congregations haven’t been able to work well together, Park said.

The 2016 Korean Council’s annual meeting featured a panel discussion on the differences and similarities between Korean-language and English-language churches. A similar panel is to be convened this year, Aum said, to continue building unity.

While informative, the panel discussion is not expected to generate as much discussion as will the changes to the Korean Council’s constitution and bylaws, which were developed by the fellowship’s Executive Committee, Aum said.

In the past, the executive director was hired for one four-year term, and could be re-elected to no more than a second four-year term. The revised official documents will allow the executive director to be re-elected every four years until he retires.

In addition, in the past, “the executive director is servant and support to the Executive Committee,” Aum said. With the revised constitution and bylaws, the executive director will become the chairman of the Executive Committee.

“Now the new executive director will have more authority and power,” Aum explained. “This is much better way to more effectively support Korean churches, pastors and missionaries.”

Guest speakers for the 2017 annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America are to include Hee Mook Ahm, pastor of Gongjoo Baptist Church in Gongjoo, South Korea, and Hee Tae Kim, pastor of Kyungjoo Baptist Church in Kyungjoo, South Korea. Aum will bring his executive director’s report, and president James Bahn, pastor of Indianapolis Korean Baptist Church, will bring the president’s message.

“We will be together for fellowship and to hear reports,” Aum said. “We will be refreshed and renewed for what God has for us to do to bring Him glory.”

Other events related to the SBC annual meeting of particular interest to Koreans are the Korean-American English-Speaking Pastor’s Conference, set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, in Room North 230 of the Phoenix Convention Center; and the Asian American Fellowship dinner and meeting, set for 7 p.m. Sunday, June 11, in Room North 132B/C of the Phoenix Convention Center.