Last week, I had the unique opportunity to go on a Congregational Developers Pilgrimage to South Korea with 27 United Methodist leaders from the U.S., including a team from our denomination’s Path 1. Here’s an article they wrote about it. I ditto everything in it! The experience was amazing!
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development
(P.S. Although I paid my own way, the Indiana Conference graciously viewed my time away as part of my job with the conference rather than vacation. I am so grateful I got this opportunity and certainly learned a lot!)
By Rev. Eun-Pa Hong
Last month, Path1 took a deep dive into Korean Christian spirituality. We traveled to Bupyeong Methodist Church in Incheon City, South Korea. There, we were met with extraordinarily radical hospitality. The church housed and fed us for a week. While physical eating kept us satisfied, we spirituality fed our souls in a deep and abiding way. Each morning, we attended 5:00 a.m. worship that included hymn-singing, scripture, preaching and prayer. We participated in the Korean practice of Tongsung Kido, which means, “praying altogether out loud.” It started with three shout-outs to God and followed with passionate prayer spoken by individuals at the same time. It lasted for 20 minutes. It was cathartic and it was powerful as congregants and leaders alike cried out to God with their innermost supplications.
During our time, we learned at the feet of Rev. Eun-Pa Hong, Senior Minister since 1981, and his team of associate pastors. We learned about Korea, its history and economy, and the revival and growth of the Korean Church. We visited the Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery where missionaries and their families are buried. In many instances, we heard heartfelt thanks for the sacrifice of foreign missionaries who gave their lives to help bring Christianity to the Korean peninsula. We visited the War Memorial of Korea where we learned about the Korean conflict of 1950-1953 and the many lives lost. Music, including the annual festival of choirs, filled our hearts and souls with sacred songs. We are forever grateful for this magnificent opportunity to take a deeper dive into spirituality and for the generous hosts who made every moment special. This experience will inform our own spirituality and infuse our work with a greater measure of the power of prayer.