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작성일 : 02-06-22 22:28
Short History of the Korean Christian Churches and Churches of Christ
 글쓴이 : 조동호
조회 : 39,170  
By Yoon Kwon Chae


A historian stated "the blood of the martyrs became the fertilizer of the Churches of Christ." How true it is. Wherever there was a need for a movement to reform, there was pain of childbirth and bloodshed. Especially for the Korean Christian churches and churches of Christ, the history was thorny path and valleys of tears. Because there was so much tears and bloodshed, the crown will be shining brighter and the movement has been and will always be victorious.

As the Restoration Movement cannot be started by any one person or one group, it is difficult to state by whom or where it was started; however, as the movement was formed by various calls and efforts, three great leaders seem to be surfacing.

1. Early Korean Restoration Movement Leaders

(a) BRO. NAK SO SUNG: He was originally a commissioned officer of the Salvation Army. Seeing the division and the power struggle of the denominational world, he decided to start simply, "The Church of Christ" at BUYO city. He went to Japan in May 1930 and there he met some Christian missionaries, especially the Chases, and decided to join the Restoration Movement. He ministered to a Korean church at Yokohama and, as he returned to Korea in 1931, he ministered to the churches around KE-DONG, KONGDUK-DONG, CHUNGPA-DONG, NESOO-DONG, etc. Especially, he was the one who started PILUN-DONG CHURCH OF CHRIST. He was a Chinese medicine man (doctor) all of his life and a professor of the Bible at the Church of Christ Seminary until he passed away in 1964 at the church he started. His son, SUNG, SOO KYUNG, also became a church of Christ minister and a Chinese medicine doctor.

(b) BRO.SANG HYUN CHAE was a memorable person as an educator, writer, minister, and a patriot. He graduated from Samsoong School, Soongsil High School, and Yonsae University and, as he taught at the university, he fought for the independence of Korea with such men as DR. CHO, BYUNG OK and LEE, YOON YONG. He even was arrested by the Japanese police and served prison terms as he translated the Declaration of the Independence. He escaped to China and studied at Yungkyung University and, as he was going to America, he was arrested again. Being forced to return to Korea, he graduated from Methodist Seminary, being ordained, and ministered to CHEBU-DONG CHURCH, DONGDAE-MOON CHURCH, etc. He continued writing in the newspaper and magazines and wrote "Experience of Religion," "Great Men of the Modern World," "Direction of the Korean Young Men," etc., and edited "Theological World" magazine of the Methodist Church. While Bro. Chae was working at the Bible Society and selling their books, he met Bro. John Chase in 1936. After much discussion, he decided to join the Restoration Movement. In 1938 he started TONAM-DONG CHURCH OF CHRIST, worked at WHANGSHIPRI CHURCH and MT. TONAM-DONG, and he also taught at Church of Christ Seminary. As the second World War started, Japan forced the church to worship the shrines, but he refused and went underground. He and his four sons and five daughters starved more than they ate, but he kept on preaching. When Korea was liberated in 1945, he served as an advisor for the American occupying government for some time, but returned back to  ministry forsaking all the political positions, fame and fortune. When the North Korean forces invaded South Korea in 1950, he was captured by the communist forces and forced to march to North Korea. No news has been  heard about him since. His son is YOON KWON CHAE who became a ministerial leader and Bible college founder and president.

(c) Another person is BRO. DONG, SUK KEE. He went to America to study in 1904, graduated from Garret Theological Seminary and ordained at a Methodist Church. He returned to Korea and, while participating in the independence movement, was arrested, also. He went to the USA again in 1927 and happened to study at Cincinnati Bible Seminary. That was where he learned about the Restoration Movement and, with the support of the non-instrumental brethren, he returned to Korea and started at least seven churches at HAMKYUNG PROVINCE. In 1940 he also started NESOO-DONG CHURCH OF CHRIST in SEOUL. When the Korean War started, he went to America again and became an instrument of sending non-instrumental missionaries such as BRO. RICHARDSON. Bro. Dong passed away in 1972 in America.

There were many others, known and unknown, who started churches based purely on the direction of the New Testament, such as BRO. KANG, MYUNG SUK, who was educated at Vanderbilt University and who started churches at ULSAN, KYUNGJU and SHINGDANG-DONG in SEOUL. He passed away in 1944 by overwork.

2. Early Missionaries

Perhaps the first foreign Christian Church/Church of Christ missionaries who landed in Korea were MR. & MRS. MICHAEL SHELLY from Oregon, USA. They came in 1932; however, due to their health problems, returned to Oregon after nine months. Mrs. Shelly operated a horse museum for a long time by the McKinzie River. In reality, the first Christian church missionaries were MR. & MRS. JOHN T. CHASE. Bro. Chase graduated from Cincinnati Bible Seminary and ministered at several churches before he went to Japan to work at the Cunningham Mission. However, hearing the call from Korea, he landed in Korea in 1936. Later, he organized the North American Christian Missionary Convention and became the first president. He was a tall and very impressive speaker with conviction. He came in contact with BROS. SUNG, NAK SO and CHAE(Choi), SANG HYUN and started a Bible study group which later became the Bible college. A big house at SONG WOL DONG was purchased which became the mission center. Many Korean preachers came to work with him, such as KIM, YO HAN; PARK, PAN JO; KIM, MOON HA, etc., and they went out to start new churches.

Korea at that time, was under the occupation of Japan and Japan started to show their desire to expand their empire throughout Asia. They annexed Korea in 1910 and started their invasion of China and Southeast Asia. America, England, and other western countries were on the way, so they secretly prepared to start a war against these nations. Consequently, they oppressed the churches and western missionaries. Korean people were forced to change their names to Japanese style and the ministers were forced to worship the Japanese shrines and, of course, when they refused, they were arrested. Many Korean ministers died in prison by this reason. Actually, the church was their target as the patriotic spirit was burning in the churches and the protests for human rights were heard in the churches. At one time, a whole church building was set on fire by the Japanese police with church members inside. But they kept on meeting, even on the ashes, and they kept on growing.

In 1939 BRO. JOHN J. HILL'S family joined the mission. He graduated from Johnson Bible College and, as a young missionary, tried hard to learn the Korean language and Korean way of life. And the number of churches increased. According to 1943 Korean Religious Report, six Christian churches were listed with six ministers and 909 church members. However, the Japanese government decided, for their controlling purpose, to unite all denominations by force and organized the Association of Japanese Christian Churches. And, of course, those who joined had to worship the Japanese shrines and those who did not were imprisoned. Many churches disbanded at this time and went underground. In 1941, when the second World War started, they forced the Bible colleges and seminaries to close and expelled all the foreign missionaries. The Japanese government confiscated all foreign properties and Christian ministers were openly arrested and executed. some churches had to close their doors, but most of them kept worshipping secretly, among which were TONAM-DONG and PILUN-DONG CHURCHES OF CHRIST.

 3. The Liberated Church

On August 15, 1945, Japan was defeated and Korea was liberated. However, Korean provisional government was not recognized by the allied forces and Korea was divided by the 38th parallel line. South Korea was occupied by America and North Korea was occupied by soviet Russia which was the beginning of another bloody page in the Korean history. The church was liberated; also, many imprisoned ministers were liberated, and missionaries started to come back. However, for the denominational world, this was the beginning of divisions. In the first place, the churches in North Korea and the South were divided. When a communistic government was established in North Korea, those Christians who did not join their communistic party and the communistic Christian organization were arrested and executed, eventually. So many Christians came down south. In south Korea, division was caused, at first, by many denominational missionaries, but later by those who attended the ceremonies of Japanese shrines and those who did not. And then, by liberalism and Neo-orthodoxy, etc. Many denominations were divided by these and Christian church preachers felt that this was the time to shout the Restoration Movement. So, they published "The Declaration of Unity of all Churches of Christ" in 1946, calling all churches to be united under one name, one Bible, and the Biblical plan of salvation.

Bros. Chase and Hill returned, also. They managed to reoccupy the SONGWOL-DONG building and, with Bros. Chae(Choi) and Sung, reopened the Church of Christ Seminary. There were many preachers who came from North Korea who were disgusted by the divisions and they became students and later leaders of this movement in Korea. Those who joined at this time were BROS. KOO, KWANG SO, who later served as the vice-president of Korea Christian college (died in 1994); KANG, BYUNG CHUN, former missionary to China and later a professor at Korea Christian College ( died in 1993); LEE, CHONG MAN, who started a church and an orphanage at Inchon; JUNG, HEE GUN, an author and preacher, who later worked with the non-instrumental brethren; and LEE, HUNG SHIK, who started Chungnyan-ri Church and worked mostly with non-instrumental brethren.

There are many others who joined the movement at this time but, with those leaders listed above, a few other personnel need to be recognized at this time. One is BRO. OH, HYUN PAL who was a recognized fighter for the independence of Korea. He was challenged by the restoration message and started YUNG YANG CHURCH OF CHRIST in the southern province. BRO. KIM, UN SUK became a very effective evangelist. He moved around eating hardly anything and started churches in many villages around Chungchong-do and Junra-do. He may have started as many as 70 churches of Christ. In Junra-bukdo area, BRO. KANG, SOON MYUNG was very active and, in the Junra-namdo area, BRO. CHOI, YO HAN,  who joined the movement from the Assembly of God, started many churches including Mokpo Church, which was one of the largest Christian churches in Korea.

4. In the Midst of War

The trial for the Korean churches did not end. In order to be usable, iron needs to go through fire and water; so it was with the Korean church. The Korean War started in 1950 and, within a period of one month, most of Korea was occupied by the communistic forces. They burned the church buildings, arrested the church leaders, and took with them when they retreated later. Thus, BRO. CHAE, SANG HYUN was taken to the North and BRO. BECK, NAK JOON  was murdered. However, the swords and bombs cannot stop the march of the Christian Gospel. Many thousands of Christians became refugees but, wherever they went, they started the churches. In fact, Korean churches increased ten times during four years of war, persecution, and destruction. This was the time when the churches were started in Pusan, one of two cities unoccupied by the communists, and Jeju Island. Also, the churches were started in Taejon area by BRO. SHIM, YOUNG JIN.

5. Upon the Ashes of the Churches

Seoul was taken by the communistic forces twice in 1950-51 and most of the buildings were destroyed, including the mission building at Songwol-dong. The building had to be rebuilt and many orphans had to be taken care of. Bro. John Hill started an orphanage at the mission building with BRO. SUNG, SOO KYUNG, the son of BRO. SUNG. The orphanage later moved to BUPYUNG and became BUPYING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S HOME under the leadership of BRO. SUL, HA UN.

While reconstruction was going on in Korea, Bro. John Chase started to raise "Chapel Fund" for the Korean churches. This was how, many tent churches built their first buildings, including Tonam-dong Church, Pilun-dong Church, Hongjae-dong Church, etc. Another orphanage was started in Inchon by BRO. LEE, JONG MAN. The seminary opened again. BROS. SUNG, NAK SO; KIM, DONG SOO; LEE, SHIN, and a few others taught, as well as the missionaries. Bro. Lee, Shin was a prominent theologian as well as a Christian artist and later received D.Min from Vanderbilt University. This was the time also when BROS. SOON GOOK CHOI and YOON KWON CHAE interpreted and taught English.

BRO. YOON KWON CHAE is a son of BRO. CHAE, SANG HYUN  and was a Korean Army officer. In 1955 the seminary changed its name to SEOUL BIBLE SEMINARY and sent out the first official graduates. They were BROS. CHO, KOOK HYUNG; SUNG, SOO KYUNG; LEE, JONG KYUN; HAM, CHANG HYUN; JUNG, HEE GUN; CHOI, BYUNG KWON; KIM, TAE SOO and SISTER KIM, HYUN SOOK.

Also, many foreign missionaries came to help temporarily or permanently. BRO. JOHN HILL, MISS THOMPSON (married an American soldier, but later passed away in the States), MISS KENNET (later married John Hill), HAROLD P. TAYLOR, ALEX BILLS, ELIS, SEGGELKE, etc. Bro. Hill had some family problems and, because of it and some other conflict of personalities, caused disharmony among missionaries. Bro. Alex Bills raised funds and actually started a broadcasting mission in Pusan, but again disharmony among missionaries became a major obstacle in the work and eventually Bro. Bills returned to America. Bro. Taylor, a former missionary to China, took charge of the work around the Seoul area but, unfortunately, he did not have, and did not seek, the support of the Korean preachers. The mission, Korean Christian Mission, sold the Songwol-dong building in 1959 to move out to the suburb and closed the Bible Seminary.

It opened again in a new palce when BROS. YOON KWON CHAE and GORDEN PATTEN returned from the USA. Both are graduated of SAN JOSE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE (CA). According to 1956 "Christian Annual" there were 51 churches of Christ in Korea with 38 preachers and 1,905 members. Non-instrumental churches were not yet listed.

6. Non-instrumental Church of Christ

This was when some non-instrumental missionaries came to Korea. BRO. DALE RICHARDSON came in 1954 and started churches and orphanages. BRO. HASKELL CHESSHIR came a little later; however, the harmony and cooperation was lacking between missionaries and Korean preachers. Eventually, Bro. Richardson left Korea and Bro. Chesshir bought a large land in Kimpo area which later became the campus for (non-instrumental) Korea Christian College (officially CHRIST THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE). In 1961 Bro. Bill Ramsey also came. Unfortunately, the coming of these non-instrumental missionaries caused the first division among our brethren in Korea.

7. The New Beginning

From 1959 to 1960 Korea had gone through many political changes. The April students' revolt against LEE SUNG MAN government and consequent revolution  happened in 1959 and a Military Coup d'etat headed by GEN. PARK, JUNG HEE occurred in 1960. And Korea experienced new order and new system, good or bad. There was confusion and new beginning at the same time; however, for the Korean Christian churches, this was the time for a new beginning.

(a) KOREA CHRISTIAN SEMINARY: BRO. YOON KWON CHAE returned from the United States of America in 1961 after graduating from San Jose Christian College (CA) and Lincoln Christian Seminary (IL). He started to work at Korean Christian Mission. He also started a Bible Correspondence School in 1963 and Hwanwon Christian Publishing in 1964 as he ministered to the churches in refugee's town, such as TOWON-DONG, TO-DONG, etc. He started to teach at Seoul Bible Seminary when it opened again in 1963. However, the gap and misunderstandings between the missionaries and Korean preachers were too deep and it was not possible for the work to move forward. Consequently, Bro. Chae broke off from the mission and started another Bible college with the cooperation of the Korean preachers at the southern part of Seoul city in 1965, which was named KOREA CHRISTIAN SEMINARY.

BROS. KOO, KANG, SUNG, SHIM, LEE, KIM-JIN MOON and KIM-KYU SANG were the teachers and Bro. Chae was the president. The first class opened on March 18, 1965, and there were 57 students. BROS. SOON, GOOK CHOI and JAIKWAN AHN, who also graduated from Lincoln Christian Seminary, joined as the Chairmen of the Planning Association and the Board of Trustees. The seminary grew up steadily, received the governmental recognition and accreditation, and raised many effective leaders and ministers of the Christian churches and churches of Christ. Bro. Chae served as the first, third, and sixth president for approximately twenty years (at present serving as chancellor). BRO. CHOI was the second president, BRO. KWON, INWON the fourth, DR. LEE, YOUNG CHANG as the fifth. In 1966 DR. MOON, UN SIK, the 1968 graduated of the Seminary, was inaugurated as the seventh president.

(b) HANSUNG BIBLE SEMINARY: BRO. JOHN HILL started this Seminary at Taejon area in 1959. In 1971 BRO. CHAN YOUNG KIM, who graduated from Cincinnati Bible Seminary (OH), took over as the president. The Seminary grew, was accredited by the government and later moved to YUNSAN area. There have been many court battles concerning the property and operation of the Seminary and some leaders served unfortunate prison terms, but it produced many able preachers for the southern part of Korea.

(c) KYUNGNAM COLLEGE AND DONGSUH UNIVERSITY: BRO. RICHARD LASH came to Korea in 1964 and worked in KANGWON-DO area establishing several churches, including KANGNUNG and CHUMUNJIN CHURCHES. He later moved to PUSAN area. BRO. CHANG, SUNG MAN, who graduated from Cincinnati Bible Seminary, returned to Korea in 1964 and they cooperated to start a vocational college in 1966. This vocational college, under the leadership of Brother Chang, grew into KYUNGNAM JR. COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING and eventually to DONGSUH UNIVERSITY. Bro. Chang also was elected and served as a National Congress member and a vice-chairman.

(d) PREACHERS' ASSOCIATION & CHRISTIAN CONVENTION: The first Preachers' Conference was formed in 1956 and it became an annual event after 1967. Christian Convention was also held at the same time. However, after 1970, it took the form of association, especially in dealing with the demands of the government. BROS. SOON GOOK CHOI; YOON KWON CHAE; C. Y. KIM; KIM, KYU SANG; HAM, MYUNG DUK; CHOI, HONG CHUL; PYUN, MOON AHE, and KIM, YONG SOON, etc., served as its presidents and, in 1997, BONG YUN YOO, a graduate of Korea Christian Seminary, is serving as the president.

(e) ORPHANAGES: Originally there were three orphanages connected to the Christian churches; Bupyung, Taejon, and Inchon. Taejon orphanage closed earlier and merged with BUPYUNG CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S HOME with the leadership of BRO. SUL. However, this orphanage was also closed around 1985 and INCHON orphanage was turned over to a denominational leadership after Bro. Lee moved to America. In 1966 MRS. GEON CHAE gathered the abandoned children around TOWON-DONG, where BRO. CHAE ministered and started GEON CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S HOME. Geon passed away in 1981, but the Home moved to KIMPO area and has reared hundreds of homeless children under the leadership of MRS. KOOK KA CHAE into fine Christian men and women. Among the children who grew up at this home, three became missionaries and many preachers.

(f) RADIO WORK: Since ALEX BILLS returned to the States, BILL ELIS maintained the broadcasting work in Pusan area. In Seoul, BROS. YOON KWON CHAE, SOON GOOK CHOI, and ILYUP KIM started to broadcast through Christian Broadcasting Station entitled "Spiritual Talk with Mr. Lee," and it reached many young people with challenging talks. After 1969 Bro. Chae continued the work alone through CBS as well as FAR-EAST BROADCASTING COOPERATION. FEBC is aimed toward NORTH KOREA and Korean people in China and Russia and has been serving as the sole communication to those people. Many letters are received every day and saving thousands of souls through radio preaching.

(g) PUBLICATION: HANKIL (one way) magazine has been published monthly from KOREAN CHRISTIAN MISSION and also HWANWON (restoration) magazine started in 1965, bi-monthly, with BRO. CHAE as the editor. These magazines have been calling the denominational world to return to the Bible and attracted many denominational preachers to the Restoration Movement. Also Bible Correspondence School has been reaching many Bible students and is operated by both the HWANWON and TAEKWANG PUBLISHING HOUSE.

Taekwang Publishing House (Gorden Patten, publisher) and Hwanwon (Yoon Kwon Chae, publisher) also printed and published many books concerning Restoration Movement. Taekwang mainly translated many English books and Hwanwon Publishing House published such challenging books as "The Shattered Cross" and "The Way for Unity for Churches." TAEKWANG and HWANWON cooperated producing palm-size New Testament to be sent to North Korea either by personal contacts or by balloons.

(h) BRAILLE SCHOOL, PRISON EVANGELISM, and MILITARY EVANGELISM: Braille Bible School has been operated by BRO. CHAE with BRO. HAN,JUNG WOONG as the editor. Bro. Chae also supported many chaplains for prison such as Anyang, Inchon, and Uijongboo. Converts came by the hundreds and, many times, more than a hundred were baptized at one time. Many crusades were conducted at Korean Army military compounds and hundreds were baptized there, also. BRO. BECK of KCM is still in charge of the work.

8. Cooperation and Expansion

In 1981 SEOUL BIBLE SEMINARY merged with KOREA CHRISTIAN SEMINARY and the number of students increased to 500. Also, in 1983, the merger with the non-instrumental brethren was partially successful and both sides decided to have one conference and one convention. However, full merger has a long way to go.

Many missionaries have been sent out by Christian churches and churches of Christ. From the graduates of Korea Christian Seminary there are three missionaries to Africa, three missionaries to the Philippines, two missionaries to China, one each to Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, Peru, and Brazil, and many to the Korean churches in America, Australia and England.

According to the 1996 Directory, 203 churches are listed in Christian Churches and Churches of Christ Conference, 104 churches in Assembly of the Churches of Christ, and 100 churches are listed with non-instrumental churches. It's not a number to be proud of compared with the other denominational groups, but under rather unfavorable atmosphere, this is growth and steady growth.

It will keep on growing until Christ comes! The enemies of Christ may be able to destroy democracy, they may be able to destroy freedom, but THEY CAN NOT DESTROY GOD! Spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only Hope of the World!

9. Retrospect and Prospect

Korean Christian churches and churches of Christ had many disadvantages, in addition to the fact that they have gone through many wars and persecutions (which could be advantages, too).

(a) The movement came much later than the big denominations, such as Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, OMS, etc. Therefore, it has been growing under the shadow of these denominational bodies.

(b) American Restoration Movement grew with the growth of democracy and pioneer spirit where independence was required and sought. Korean churches of Christ grew during the period of war and poverty. Therefore, mutual dependency rather than independency was more precious.

(c) Lack of cooperation between the missionaries and with the Korean preachers caused many divisions and hindered the growth, in addition to the coming of many denominational missionaries and non-instrumental missionaries which caused more confusion.

However, the church grew, the church must grow. The Gates of Hades can not prevail against it! Therefore, for the sake of future growth, we must put the emphasis on:

(a) Education. We must actively support Bible colleges and in raising of preachers convicted of the principles of the Restoration Movement. We must work harder raising the future leaders of the movement.

(b) We must cooperate. We must support each other rather than criticizing each other. We must work toward the merger of Bible colleges and conventions.

(c) We must never be self-righteous. "We are Christians only, and not the only Christians." We must not let the Restoration Movement be crystallized.

(d) We must grow, we must spread continually, and the restoration spirit must always be fresh, as the Words of God are always fresh!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has always been alive and victorious in the hearts of the Christians. It was not only the Gospel for the first century, but it is equally active and powerful in the twentieth, and until Jesus comes. "GOD ALIVE TODAY" is and must be the message of the Christian churches and churches of Christ. We shout "Return to the Original Church." We must return not only in rituals and organizations, but also in spirit and action. Yes, His Church is always fresh and victorious. The messages of the Gospel are fresh. If we cut the Gospel with a knife, fresh blood will spout out today. It is not clotted Gospel, it is not dead Gospel, and this Gospel will also be victorious in the land of Korea!