Leaders of the First Presbyterian Church of Delaware are visiting Korea on June 16-22, 2015 on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the Namdaemoon Presbyterian Church. The delegation is headed by Rev. Debora Patterson and includes Brian McConnell (her spouse), Nancy Baileys, Sandra Kramer, Dr. Joe Musser, Louise Musser and James S. Shaw.
According to Senior Pastor Sohn Yoon-Tahk of the Namdaemoon Presbyterian Church, the Delaware Church delegation will attend the 130th Anniversary of First State Sunday service and various other anniversary celebration events during their stay in Korea.
Here are excerpts from the statements of Senior Pastor Sohn:
We sincerely welcome the delegates of First Presbyterian Church of Delaware to Korea.
May the peace of God be over the Korean church in its 130 year history, and to all who have prepared for and are participating in this event, the 130th Anniversary of "First State Sunday service(the first official worship service in Korea)".
The 130 years of Korean church history started at Jejungwon.
Outwardly Jejungwon was a hospital, but internally it was also used as a place of worship. While King Gojong had given permission to build hospitals and schools, he had not authorized for a church. Nevertheless, missionaries used Jejungwon as a missions base, making it the cradle of the Korean church as they held worship, baptism, and eucharist in this space.
The first official Sunday Service in Korea started at Jejungwon. On Sunday night of June 21, 1885, missionaries, Dr. and Mrs. Horace Newton Allen, and the mother of Dr. William Benton Scranton attended the first Sunday Service ever held in Korea. Subsequent services were attended by Horace Grant Underwood, Henry Gerhard Appenzeller, and the foreign minister George Clayton Foulk. The first eucharist (October 11, 1885) and the first baptism (April 25, 1886) were also administered on Korean soil. The first Korean to be baptized was Noh Tohsa (whose original name was Noh Choon-Gyung, baptized on July 18, 1886), who was Allen’s Korean language teacher.
Namdaemoon Presbyterian Church embodies the history of the Korean church.
On July 23, 1886, the Joseon government was officially notified of the services in Jejungwon Christian Community, and on November 6 of the same year, regular English services officially took off. Jejungwon Christian Community, the cradle of the Korean church, later became Donghyun (Gurigae) Church. After subsequent division and reunion of Gondanggol Church with Hongmoondong Church, the space was used as a retreat center for the entire Seoul parish, and so was called “Joongang Church”(Joongang means central in Korean) by the missionaries. In September 1902, Chosun Presbyterian Council convened in Jejungwon. It later developed into Severance Nammoonbak Church (1904), and can be considered the root of the Korean church that composed the three angles in Dr. Oliver Avison’s “Triangle Mission Strategy“- church, hospital, and school ? based on Matthew 4:23.
2015 marks the 130 year anniversary of the Korean church.
Jejungwon Namdaemoon Church has faithfully fulfilled its role as the seedbed of the Korean church. The early founders and ministers of the Korean church, Suh Sang-Ryun, Ham Tae-Young, and Kim Ik-Du, formed the focal point of the March First Movement and other independence movements. After the independence, “Namdaemoon Church across Seoul Station“ became a significant landmark at which war refugees would promise reunions. The Three Million Movement, and Dr. Bob Pierce’s revival rallies held here paved the way for the formation of World Vision. On the 130 year anniversary of Namdaemoon Presbyterian Church, we commemorate the first official worship service in Korea held 130 years ago, in hopes that it may serve as a chance to revive the initial passion of the Korean church.
I sincerely thank the Rev. Deb Patterson and Brian McConnell, the four elders, and the organist Dr. Joe Musser from First Presbyterian Church of Delaware for joining us in this celebration. May this celebration be the occasion for both First Presbyterian Church of Delaware and Namdaemoon Church to together renew our commitment to live out our calling as the Church in ushering in the reign of God.
Once again, I sincerely thank the official delegates of First Presbyterian Church of Delaware for visiting Korea.