Large Korean-American Church Gives Generously to Haiti
by Mary Beth Coudal and Chris Heckert
On February 1, 2010, the First United Methodist Church of Flushing, Queens, gave $60,000 to UMCOR relief efforts in Haiti. Church parishioners gave about $45,000 through a special offering, and the church gave the rest.
First United Methodist Church of Flushing marked its 199th year as a church and 35th anniversary as a Korean congregation. First Church is the largest United Methodist Korean church in the New York Annual Conference, with about 1,800 in worship on Sunday mornings. Although the church is large, its heart for giving is even larger.
"Whenever there is a disaster, we appeal to our members to give--and they gave!" said the Rev. Joong Urn Kim, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Flushing. The church has a historic connection to Global Ministries though a partnership of mission work in Central Asia, particularly Kazakhstan.
In 2003, the Queens church gave $200,000 to start a church and mission center in Kazakhstan, a predominantly Muslim country. Since then, the church has sponsored missionary Hee Jin Park, who has continued the missionary service of her late husband, Rev. Dr. Joon Shoung Park.
"God has worked miraculously with her. She is doing a great job. She loves her work so much. She is like a mother to the church there," Rev. Kim said. The First Church connection to evangelization and mission grew through its connection to Rev. Sam Dixon.
Rev. Kim said First Church with its generous gift wanted to honor Sam Dixon, UMCOR leader and champion of First Church. Rev. Dixon died in the Haiti earthquake of January 12.
"He (Sam) always recognized First United Methodist Church as a strong mission partner," Rev. Kim remembered. First Church first worked with Rev. Dixon when he led the evangelism unit of the General Board of Global Ministries. Under Rev. Dixon's leadership, evangelism and missionary work in Central Asia grew.
First United Methodist Church chose to connect directly with the mission agency because, “when partnering with the General Board of Global Ministries and doing ministry, we know this work will be done,” said Rev. Kim. The church leaders were impressed that 100 percent of their UMCOR gift would go to Haiti.
First United Methodist Church leaders visited Global Ministries' offices on February 1, 2010, to share the gift to Haiti and meet with interim chief executive, Bishop Joel Martinez. "We are grateful for and impressed by this gift," Bishop Martinez said.
Mary Beth Coudal is the staff writer of Global Ministries. Chris Heckert is the director of Mission Communications and Marketing of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Feb 08, 2010