Korean pastors call for repentance, unity

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Key points:

  • Ahead of Lent, over 100 Korean United Methodist pastors published a statement called “Confession and Covenant.”
  • Released ahead of the Charisma Revival event in New York, the statement acknowledges the current conflict within The United Methodist Church.
  • Charisma Revival is not a political group or organization, but a gathering of the Holy Spirit movement, according to organizers.

Ahead of Lent — a period of reflection, temperance and spiritual training — over 100 Korean United Methodist pastors released a statement urging repentance and unity amid challenging times.

The “Confession and Covenant” statement was published before the church leaders gathered for the Charisma Revival Feb. 21-24 at First United Methodist Church in Flushing, New York.

"The uncertainty facing the denomination has put Korean United Methodist churches and pastors into confusion and conflict, unable to respond with agency and clarity. Here, we repent for ignoring the workings of the Holy Spirit who birthed us into a holy church,” the statement said. “We have forgotten its holiness."  

The statement also expresses great respect and honor to John Wesley as well as Henry G. Appenzeller, the Methodist missionary to Korea who started the Methodist Movement in the Korean Peninsula.  

“We are the seeds and the fruits of Methodism for such time as this,” the pastors wrote. “We thirst for the true living water that will quench us with the ‘power of the Holy Spirit’ that manifested in the early churches, gave life to Wesley’s ministry, and transformed society today.”

According to the statement, the Charisma Revival event has four aims:

  • To experience the charisma of the Holy Spirit and aim for a balanced, charismatic spirituality through spiritual discernment of the Scripture;
  • To acknowledge the history of charisma in the Scripture and aim for a permissive attitude;
  • To aim for a healthy spirituality based on the Scripture; and
  • To aim for a ministry centered on cooperation and connectionalism based on “the Holy Spirit’s uniting work in and among us.”

The pastors also pledged to pray “for the restoration of a truly proud, Wesleyan Spirituality and its ministry, and for the revival of the Church that will faithfully make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Charisma Revival is not a political group or organization, but a gathering of the Holy Spirit movement, according to organizers.

The Rev. Min Seok Yang, one of the event coordinators and pastor of Korean United Methodist Church of New York, said the purpose of the revival was for all participants to have the same experience as described in Mark 16:15-20, where Jesus commissions his disciples to “go into all the world and proclaim the good news.”

“It will be a place where pastors — those who are heartbroken in the reality of a weakening church and a divisive denomination — gather, repent and pray together,” he said. 

Yang said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it was appropriate to hold the revival because it is a difficult time. 

“As it is a time when both pastors and church members have been discouraged to meet by the pandemic, their faith weakened and their hearts saddened, I think it is necessary to pray more fervently before God and to arm themselves,” he said. 

Yang recalled that during the plagues of the 15th and 16th centuries, Martin Luther devoted himself to caring for and healing the sick. 

“It led the church to revival through it. We, too, should pray and gather together,” he said.

The Rev. C. James Kim of First United Methodist Church in Flushing said that Wesleyan spirituality is not closed nor exclusive. 

“The right and left of Korean pastors will cooperate and participate in the Holy Spirit movement that integrates personal piety and social piety within the great Wesleyan perspective,” he said. 

Kim said that even though Koreans are a minority in the denomination, he sees them as a “spiritual majority.” 

“We are bigger than we think we are,” he said. “Our lives depend not on institutional survival, but on spiritual revival, and our spiritual revival is the way to our future.”

Kim is director of Korean and Asian news at United Methodist Communications. Contact him at 615-742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Friday Digests.

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