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Making a difference in the world

December 06, 2021
By Rev. Garth Duke-Barton, Conference Secretary for Global Ministries

Picking up where I left off in my last column, I ask, “Where is the church serving in the world?” How about Korea and Hawaii? If you ever find yourself in Hawaii on a Sunday you can worship in a United Methodist Church. Interestingly, the origins of the Methodist movement in Hawaii started in places like Ohio and Korea. The United Methodist Church and her predecessors have been at work in the mission field for more than 136 years in Korea.

Robert S. Maclay, an American missionary for Japan, met the Emperor Kojong in 1884 and was allowed to found schools and hospitals. Henry G. Appenzeller, the first American Methodist (North) missionary, arrived at Jemulpo port on Easter Sunday morning in 1885 while the mission of American South Methodist was begun with the visit of the Bishop E. R. Hendrix and C. F. Reid in 1895.

Then the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church (North) began a mission that grew into a huge movement in South Korea. Today there are 1.5 million Methodists in Korea and the largest Methodist church in the world is in Korea. Kumnan has more than 140,000 members.

Women from the United States went to Korea to serve as doctors, missionaries, and teachers. One of these was a woman by the name of Mary Scranton.

“In 1885, the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society sent Mrs. Mary Scranton to the Chosun Kingdom, which was the name of Korea at the time. She started to educate girls and women for the first time ever and changed the history of Korea,” said Dr. John Nam Oh, chair of the Scranton Center board of directors.

Through the work of many women and men the church started to evangelize in Korea. Then they followed the model commanded by Jesus to go forth into the world. One of the places members went was to Hawaii in 1902. They prayed and worshiped every day and the congregation grew from 50 to 58 while on the boat. Today there are 33 United Methodist churches in Hawaii.

The work of the Methodist movement continues to this day in places like Korea and Hawaii because of the faithfulness of missionaries. God used many people to bring a Methodist movement to Korea and Hawaii. What mission field are you called to serve? Your apportionment dollars are at work making a difference in the world. 

Rev. Garth Duke-Barton, pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Jesup, also serves as Conference Secretary for Global Ministries.

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