Memorial Baptist Church hosting Korean congregation



Different languages are spoken by two congregations in the Margaret Wynn Memorial Baptist Church building, but beliefs are one under the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Memorial Baptist Church congregation has existed since the 1960s when the church was planted. Grace Korean Baptist Church is the congregation, founded in July 2012, that is being hosted by Memorial Baptist.

Pastors Barry Knaub of Memorial and Ho In Kim of Grace recently discussed what brought the two congregations together.

Pastor Knaub said about two years ago the congregation was seeking “to do something different.” He said the membership took the initiative seriously. Sunday school was suspended for two weeks with the time devoted to praying for guidance. Pastor Knaub said after the Sunday service the second week, Dr. and Mrs. Jae Kim of New Castle, Pa., knocked on his door at the parsonage near the church at 56 Water St. They told him they wanted to “start a church” and God had directed them to Memorial Baptist.

Pastor Knaub said the mission church fit into the vision of Memorial, which offered to host the Korean congregation rent-free. “This is our mother church,” Pastor Kim said of Memorial.

The two congregations have separate services. Memorial, whose congregation is about 100, has Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and service at 11. The Korean congregation, numbering about 20, has a service at 1:30 p.m. followed by a fellowship meal. Pastor Kim has been with congregation 10 months.

“The Korean congregation is a blessing to us,” Pastor Knaub said. “We want to support and help them.”

The beliefs of the Southern Baptist Convention, which are conservative, appealed to the Korean congregation. “We believe in a more literal interpretation of Scripture,” Pastor Knaub said. A tenet of the faith is that the Bible was “written by men and divinely inspired” according to literature published by the Southern Baptist Convention. Those beliefs also include that “there is one and only one living and true God;” “man is the special creation of God, made in His own image;” and “salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.”

“We don’t sprinkle, we immerse,” Pastor Knaub said of the baptism practice. “There are no infant baptisms. Baptism comes when the person is old enough to make a personal decision.”

Pastor Knaub said Southern Baptist congregations are autonomous; there is no church hierarchy. “We donate money to mission work and are linked by that,” Pastor Knaub said.

Pastor Kim said his congregants come from a culture where Buddhism, Shaminism and the philosophy of Confucius dominate. “They are learning the beliefs of Southern Baptist,” Pastor Kim said.

His congregants are mainly Korean women, who are married to current and former U.S. military personnel who were stationed in Korea. Pastor Kim said the service is mostly in Korean and he gives a short synopsis in English for at least one husband who attends.

Pastor Kim’s wife, Kyung Kim, assists in the ministry by developing Power Point presentations on the order of service with hymns and prayers. She also counsels congregants and coordinates the meals after services. The purpose of the meals is to foster fellowship and provide an outlet for Korean cooking that the women might not do at home. “This makes a meaningful life for me,” she said.

The Kims said Korean food provides three different tastes — sweet, salty and spicy. Bulgogi, a dish with thinly sliced beef and vegetables, is among recipes served along with kim chi, fermented vegetables including cabbage. “I don’t know what I’m eating but I like to try it,” Pastor Knaub said of the food he has sampled. “The taste is different and hard to describe.”

“It’s colorful, beautiful and delicious food,” said Pastor Kim of the vegetable-based recipes.

Pastor Kim attended Moody Bible Institute and Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He founded J.E.M. (Jesus Exemplary Ministry) Center for Biblical Preaching through which he teaches the basics of preaching. Pastor Kim speaks some Spanish, Chinese, Korean and English, and his wife, fluent Japanese, Korean and English. The couple both worked in the accounting field.

Pastor Kim said he wants to convey to congregants the “importance of a relationship with Christ and focus on other people.”

He said the “servitude and sacrifice” demonstrated by people who give is important in the Southern Baptist tradition. That is reflected in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

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