A Multi-Cultural Congregation in Mechanicsburg

A new multi-cultural congregation is emerging in our midst. Wesley United Methodist Church in Mechanicsburg has Korean, English, and combined worship services. It’s Wesley’s way of creating community with its Korean brothers and sisters.

The services came into existence through the leadership direction of Rev. Ho Kang, pastor of Wesley UMC. Kang started his appointment at Wesley in July 2016. A group of Korean worshippers followed Kang when he was appointed to Wesley, and they are all interested in becoming members.

Wesley holds separate weekly worship services in English at 9:30 a.m. and Korean at 11 a.m., and a joint Korean/English service on the first Sunday of each month at 10 a.m., followed by a luncheon. The fellowship time after the joint service is the opportunity to eat food together and share the fellowship of love. “It is like a festival,” said Kang.

On May 7, 2017, Harrisburg District Superintendent Rev. Barry Robison was invited to preach at the monthly combined Korean/English service. His sermon title was Starting Over. “He [Robison] told us Wesley is being presented with an opportunity to be born again, or born anew,” said Kang. “We have the chance to start over in the way we fulfill our purpose to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Everything is a new beginning.”

“Though different in language, culture, and race, it was a gracious worship service that enabled the congregation to know that they are all one in Christ Jesus. The congregation was impressed by the sermon of the superintendent.”

Currently there are between 15-20 Koreans attending Wesley. “Beautiful church building and sanctuary. The atmosphere of worship was godly and good, and we were convinced that God is with us in worship,” replied Sun Hee Chon about why the decision to come to Wesley. Suki Gelbaugh stated, “The people of Wesley UMC warmly welcomed us, and we thought that it was God’s will that we move to Wesley. We believe in the leadership of Pastor Ho.”

When asked about how the existing members are receiving and reaching out to the Korean folks, Kang responded, “In Christ we are brothers and sisters. Everyone welcomed them, and through this opportunity all the existing members are firm believers that the church will be restored, revived, and renewed.”

“We have been members of Wesley Church for over 40 years. Having our brothers and sisters from Hope Korean Church has been a light in our church. They brighten our day with their smiles and hugs, or a hand shake. God has certainly given Wesley a great future going forward with our Korean brothers and sisters,” said Lyn Yung, Hospitality Committee Chair, and Leo Yung.

“The Koreans are a welcome addition to Wesley UMC, as was Pastor Ho last year. All members are now learning to share new languages, cultures, traditions, and foods. The combined monthly worship service and luncheon welcomes all members,” commented Cheryl Hoke, adult fellowship chairperson. “The main point of this union is that we are all Christians and all Methodists.”

“As an active 45-year member of Wesley UMC, I am happy to have our Korean brothers and sisters join us in worship,” said Evelyn Ulery, Worship Chairperson. “The time of fellowship after the combined service gives us an opportunity to become better acquainted. The response to our congregational picture (above) indicates to me that we truly are united. Pastor Ho has been a blessing to us.”

Kang has high hopes for the rejuvenation of Wesley UMC. “God gave us something totally new and different,” said Kang. “The motivation to start over is the hope that this new thing will be better than the current. We are confident that, when all of us connect more with God and with each other, there will be mounting excitement about the results such an effort might produce for this new congregation, not only to survive but to become very effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ.”

“We have two worship services, but we are one church, one pastor, one God. Not two churches,” stated Kang.

From The Suquehanna LINK, September 2017


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