Mission life: THE KUKMIN DAILY

U.S. Korean Church Gives Up Building Worth $1.2 Mil in Stand Against Homosexuality

2018-01-08 15:05

A large Korean church in the United States has given up its church building worth 1.28 billion won, in order to withdraw from membership in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which allows homosexuality and same-sex marriage. This incident has shocked Korean church circles to a substantial degree because it points to the situation they may face if the Korean church allows homosexuality at some point in the future.

On December 31, Pilgrim Church (now Pilgrim Mission Church; Rev. Yang Chun-gil) in Paramus, New Jersey, emptied its church building of the past 15 years (top photo) and moved the place of its worship services to Faith Community Church (photo below) in Wyckoff, NJ. The decision was made to follow the will of the pastor and members to “preserve Biblical values and live by faith and conscience” amid the strong wave of acceptance of homosexuality among major church denominations in the U.S. Because all assets of member churches of the Presbyterian Church (USA) belong to the presbytery and general assembly, Pilgrim Church has given up its building to end its PC (USA) membership. The worth of the Pilgrim Church building is estimated at 12 million dollars.

In a telephone conversation with Kukmin Daily on January 3, Rev. Yang Chun-gil (62) said, “It was not at all easy for us to give up our church building, which was built with the prayers and sweat of our members. But for God’s Kingdom and for our freedom of belief in the Bible, we had to escape from under the roof of PC (USA). He added, “In the Bible it is clearly stated that ‘homosexuality is sin.’ It cannot be said that it is not a sin.”

Pilgrim Church had made it clear to the Eastern Korean Presbytery since 2012 that it intended to withdraw from membership. For a church with 2,000 members, the largest in the presbytery, it was not simple or easy to do this. The presbytery required the church to follow the Gracious Separation policy, and promised to submit a motion to the regular presbytery meeting for dissolution of its ties with the denomination if, after four years, 80% of the church’s members agreed to withdraw from the denomination at a church council with the participation of a majority of active members.

In October 2016, Pilgrim Church resolved to withdraw its denominational membership, with 97% approval. In consideration of the fact that it had been responsible for 30% of the yearly operational costs of the presbytery, the church suggested that it would support the presbytery with $600,000 dollars for the next five years.

In December, however, the Eastern Korean Presbytery decided against the church’s withdrawal, contrary to its members’ will. The church appealed to the PC Trial Department, but its appeal was rejected.

A long legal battle began. In August last year Pilgrim Church joined the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, which does not recognize homosexuality. Recently, the U.S. court upheld the Eastern Korean Presbytery and the PC General Assembly. On the 22nd of last month, when the Bergen County (NJ) court issued an order for provisional attachment of the church building, the church decided not to lose any more time and energy on legal procedures, and gave up all its assets.

Rev. Yang said, “For the last five years, we’ve fought for the truth. Now the spiritual circumstances of the PC (USA) will become even harder. They should recognize that people who are exhausted by the emptiness of this secularized postmodern age are seeking churches that shout for the absolute truth and the Bible as it is… I hope the Korean churches will pray together for us, so that Pilgrim Mission Church is not swayed but goes forward with the Bible only, faith only, and Jesus only.”

Reporter Jang Chang-Il (jangci@kmib.co.kr), with Yeara Ahn-Park (yap@kmib.co.kr)
Photos provided by Pilgrim Mission Church

Original Article in Korean:
美 한인교회, ‘동성애 반대’ 뜻 지키려 1200만 달러 예배당 포기: 동성애 허용한 美장로교 탈퇴하려 교회 건물 비우는 결단 내려… 교회 자산 모두 노회 소유이기 때문

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