The United States has virtually become the mecca of Korean churches.
There are currently 5,316 Korean-run churches around the world outside of South Korea, according to the recent address book published by the Korean Christian Press. Among them, 4,018 are based in the U.S. That means seven in every 10 Korean-run churches based outside of South Korea are located stateside.
What is interesting is that talks of crisis among Protestant Christian churches are seemingly offset by the addition of 348 Korean-run churches that have been founded over the last 10 years.
Following the U.S., Canada was revealed as the second largest home to Korean Churches with 392. Japan came in third with 199, followed by Australia (172), Germany (98), Argentina (55), United Kingdom (54), Brazil (45) and Mexico (20).
“Many Korean immigrant communities around the world were established along with Christian churches,” said UCLA’s sociology professor Heon-sung Yoo.
“In fact, the Korean immigrant communities have strong religious traits. Korean churches go beyond the value of religious establishments as they’re now growing deeper into the community itself.”
About half of Korean churches, at 46 percent, are of the Presbyterian origin. Baptist Churches came in second at 19 percent, followed by Methodist Churches (13 percent), Full Gospel Churches (7 percent), independent (6 percent) and Holiness Churches (5 percent).
However, critics are quick to point out that the sheer growth in numbers do not display the bigger picture.
“To judge the immigrant church community with only numbers as the yardstick is going overboard,” said Dr. Sang Meyng Lee, a chancellor at Presbyterian Theological Seminary in America. “Too many churches also mean that there’s an oversupply of ministers. There needs to be a deeper analysis as the primary concern of those in the industry is that the younger population of ministers are only becoming smaller as the existing ones continue to age.”
By Yeol Jang