SoCal the Center of Theology for Koreans

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Southern California is becoming the heartland of theological education in Korean.

In recent months, various seminaries are starting new challenges in Southern California. Most notably, Talbot School of Theology is undergoing preparation to start a doctorate pastoral course in Korean.

“Talbot School of Theology is currently looking for a suitable person to be in charge of the soon-to-be starting course in Korean,” said one anonymous religious practitioner. “There are many Korean churches in Southern California, so starting a course held in Korean is probably fitting.”

Likewise, Fuller Theological Seminary established its own “Korea Center” earlier this year to create a specialty in Korean-language curriculum. The seminary currently looking for an inaugural director for the Korea Center.

“The competition for the position has been fierce,” said a Fuller Theological Seminary employee, who wished to remain anonymous. “When the director is appointed, the Korea Center will play an important role for the Korean community.”

Golden Gate Seminary has even relocated from Northern to Southern California and renamed itself as Gateway Seminary this past July.

Gateway Seminary formerly operated a Korean-language curriculum in Brea as a branch school, but with the recent move to Southern California, the program is expected to reach a new height.

“The Korean community in Southern California has developed tremendously,” said June Choi, a pastor in Southern California. “If the recently developed programs from these seminaries can go from strength to strength, it would be a big boost for Korean churches in the region.”

However, there are mixed reactions towards the recent surge of Korean seminary programs in Southern California.

“A lot of seminaries these days are struggling to reach minimum enrollment rate,” said Se-yoon Kim, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. “Those schools are struggling financially and are looking for ways to survive. Simply put, the recent changes come with the danger of the seminaries turning into businesses.”

By Yeol Jang