SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Korea Bizwire) — Negative sentiment is growing against a family succession plan at Myungsung Church, one of the biggest churches in Korea by congregation size.
The Presbyterian church located in the southeastern district of Gangdong-gu, Seoul, is at the center of controversy, after Reverend Kim Ha-na was named lead pastor. Kim Ha-na is the son of Kim Sam-hwan, the Reverend Emeritus of the church.
Students of Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) have decided to boycott classes from August 28 to September 10 to protest the decision.
“Students have vowed in union to express our disapproval for such a practice to the church assembly,” said the PUTS student council.
Seban, the Solidarity for Anti-Family Succession in Churches, is holding a candlelight protest in front of Seoul Finance Center on September 6. The protest is being co-hosted by such Christian-affiliated organizations as the CLF, Cheongeoram ARMC and Good Teacher. Protestors will call for the succession plan at Myungsung Church to be revoked.
Family succession in churches, in which a relative of the previous lead pastor, usually the son, succeeds the leadership, has been a practice sporadically seen in Korean churches, causing controversy both in and outside the Christian community.
In response, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Korea made a revision to its constitution in 2013 that prohibits a close family member of the retiring lead pastor from succeeding the position.
Myungsung Church has blatantly bypassed the law by dividing a portion of its congregation to Saenorae Myungsung Church in 2014, making Rev. Kim Ha-na its lead pastor, and then deciding to merge again in March 2017. The junior Kim took office in November.
In the meanwhile, Rev. Kim Sam-hwan retired in December 2015, and he has now officially become a “retired” lead pastor instead of a “retiring” one – therefore not against the constitution.
The Theological Education Committee of the denomination’s General Assembly bought in to that scheme and granted approval to the younger Kim’s leadership on Aug. 8 of this year.
The denomination’s general assembly, to be held between September 10 and 13, will be the last step to consolidate the approval.
By Joey Yoo (firstname.lastname@example.org)