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Korean General Assembly and Conference Held

May 8, 2024
Participants at the CRCNA Korean general assembly and conference in Yebon Korean CRC in Chicago, Ill.
Participants at the CRCNA Korean general assembly and conference in Yebon Korean CRC in Chicago, Ill.
Photo: Tae Kim

In 1967 the late Pastor Myung Jae Lee, a student from Kosin University in Busan, South Korea, started the Chicago Reformed Church and joined the Christian Reformed Church in North America. It was the CRCNA’s first Korean church. This congregation continues today as Yebon Korean CRC. Pastor Ezra Jang, the seventh and current senior pastor at Yebon, said that it was very meaningful for him that his church could serve as the site for this year's CRCNA “Korean General Assembly and Conference.”

The meeting, held in Chicago Apr. 15-18, 2024, was attended by 70 people including Korean pastors and spouses from across North America, general secretary Zachary King, and six other denominational staff. The theme for the gathering was “Hospitality to One Another.” 

On the first day of the event, Yebon Korean CRC welcomed participants with a delicious, homemade, Korean meal complete with soybean paste and red pepper paste made by church members. As they ate, participants talked and shared with each other, catching up on church and family news, and fellowshiping as if they were at home.

Following the dinner, participants worshiped together before getting to the business part of the meeting. Then, over the next few hours, news from each region, reports from church leaders, and important issues that have been discussed over the past few years were shared. 

Korean congregations and pastors in the CRCNA, while full members of the denomination and its classis and synod structures, have long had their own leadership body, which draws them together for fellowship, accountability, training, and decision making. In the past, this body was known as the Korean Council, but about a year ago a new structure formed under the temporary name “Great New Beginning.”

At this year’s meeting the transition continued, and Pastor Daniel Kim, who served as the 2023-24 Great New Beginning president, said that this year’s gathering marked three important decisions.

“First, the name of the meeting was changed from Korean Council to Korean Ministers Association. In addition, the group was reorganized from a system in which five executives were elected to a system centered on a steering committee of about 20 members made up of representatives from each region. Finally, new Articles of Incorporation were passed that revised several key provisions, including these two,” he said.

“I am thankful for the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that has led our Korean brothers and sisters to put so much effort and prayer into establishing the Korean Ministers Association.” Zachary King said. “I was encouraged to see the evidence of this renewed relationship in the smiles, meals, and conversations shared between the participants. The Korean Ministers Association will help the voices of our first and second generation Korean members and leaders be heard by our broader denomination. The Korean Ministers Association will help us more faithfully hear and respond to God's voice among us.” 

The meeting also included the election of new officers. Pastor Eun Beom Kim (Love Global Vision CRC, Clifton, N.J.) will serve as president, and Pastor Hun Suk Bae (Ann Arbor [Mich.] Hope Church) will serve as secretary.

This meeting marks a historic change for Korean pastors in the denomination. Communication channels that had previously been divided into two different and not always collaborative groups, known as the Korean Council and Korean Relations Team, are now integrated, bringing together Korean pastors from across the denomination. Most importantly, this new group includes not only pastors serving Korean churches but also chaplains, pastors serving Anglo churches, pastors from multiracial churches, and so on. As the number of Korean CRC pastors serving in nontraditional Korean churches has increased, people have felt that the name and structure should change to reflect these developments.

So next year, after 38 years of holding Korean Council general assemblies, Korean pastors will begin meeting under the name Korean Ministers Association Conference (KMA). 

Pastor Bae, who will serve as secretary for another year, shared his hope for the organization, saying he believes the KMA "will be an instrument of God's kingdom on earth. . . . This gathering resulted in a shift in direction, a shift in breadth to expand acceptance and inclusion, and a shift in time to prepare more actively for the future. As this precious transition has begun, I will pray more fervently for the Korean Ministers' Association to go wider, longer, and deeper."