GBHEM Collaborates with Korean Chaplains for Young Adult Ministry

Danecia Jones
December 1, 2016

Korean Chaplains Visit

The Clergy Lifelong Learning Office, in collaboration with Collegiate Ministries, at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) recently hosted a group of chaplains responsible for the Korean Methodist Church’s Young Adult Centers. The six chaplains traveled from various cities in South Korea to Nashville with the goal of fostering a strong relationship between the Korean Young Adults Centers and GBHEM. During the visit, the chaplains met with the leaders of each GBHEM department, Discipleship Ministries and United Methodist Communications to learn and share best practices in young adult ministry. 

The visiting chaplains included: Rev. Changbok Lee, Rev. Rev. Keun J Lee (liaison for the group), Rev. Sunho Na, Rev. Bonggyu Park, Rev. Jeongho Yoon and Rev. Seonung Yu.  

With a focus of learning more about the how the United Methodist agencies operate, especially those that impact the lives of young adults and young clergy, the chaplains spent four days in Nashville. After a day and a half with GBHEM staff and other local United Methodist agencies, the chaplains visited Belmont’s University Ministries Office and the Office of Religious Life at Vanderbilt University, sharing and gaining insights from the operations. 

At Belmont the group met with Heather Daughtery, university minister; Todd Lake, vice president of spiritual development; and David Hollis, professor in the College of Theology. Mark Forester, university chaplain and director of the Office of Religious Life, served as Vanderbilt’s representative during the chaplains’ visit. 

The history of the Korean Methodist Church (KMC) and The United Methodist Church (UMC) helps to convey the significance of the chaplains’ visit. The UMC partnered with the Korean Methodist Church in the founding of the Young Adult Centers in the 1970s, offering resources and funding. In the mid-80s, the KMC took over 100 percent management and funding for the centers. There has been limited collaboration with the centers since that time. The visit to Nashville provided the chaplains an opportunity to gain best practices, as well as a reconnection in the relationship between the two churches. 

“We were extremely honored to host the chaplains of Korean Methodist’s Young Adult Centers in Nashville,” said Matthew Charlton, assistant general secretary of Collegiate Ministries at GBHEM.  

“The work in the centers and the work of GBHEM are closely related as we both strive to further the education of the church, while bringing young people into service for the church,” HiRho Park, executive director of Clergy Lifelong Learning at GBHEM said. “The visit helped to nurture GBHEM’s ongoing connection with the Korean Young Adult Centers and provided an opportunity to brainstorm ways to work collaboratively in the future.”

The eight Korean Young Adults Centers each have a different focus and support the youth and communities of South Korea in various capacities. Seven of the centers are located in urban areas and provide programming for youth camps, college prep, mission work in China, evangelism, young clergy resources, and couples ministry. The one center located in a more rural area is heavily focused on community education. Each of the Young Adult Centers serves as a resource for young adult ministry for smaller churches that don’t have the resources to host the programs themselves. 

Rev. Changbok Lee described the centers as having a “UMC spirit.” The centers teach the South Korean communities about Christ so that they can go out into the world and make an impact for Christ. Many of the center graduates become clergy within the KMC. Rev. Keun J Lee is a testament to this as he attended one of the centers in his youth, and decided to become an ordained clergy. 

In addition to the work in the communities of South Korea, Rev. Jeongho Yoon has worked to create an international school for middle-school and high-school students based on Christian education. The school regularly participates in mission work in Cambodia, including the development of a library for grade-school children. The library has been credited with helping to improve literacy and educational advancement. 

“The Young Adult Centers in Korea provide invaluable resources to their communities,” Rev. Sheila Bates, director of student faith and leadership formation of Collegiate Ministries said. “We are proud to be a resource for the centers’ leaders and their life changing work. At the same time, we have much to learn from them.”

To learn more about the Clergy Lifelong Learning and Collegiate Ministries at GBHEM, visit

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to prepare global leaders for a global church and the world. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.


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