Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

Global partner visit build friendships, strengthen relationship

The Rev. Ed Evans of Sequim and Suquamish UCC churches found that his short-term volunteer mission appointment with Global Ministries from May 1 to June 8 was an avenue to break through divisions and schemes of the world to envision the global village of partner churches and new friends.

Ed Evans in Korea
Korean pastors wear stoles Ed Evans gave them as gifts.

He was invited by the East Seoul Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of South Korea (PROK) to teach English to help pastors enhance their English-speaking skills.

That presbytery has been a global partner of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ since 1993.  There have been exchanges of delegations every year since then.

Six Korean young adult women came in May 2011, and a Pacific Northwest Conference young adult delegation will be going to Korea in June 2013.  The PNC will also host a delegation from Korea in 2013 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the partnership.

Evans visited Seoul as part of a delegation in 2010 and has helped host visiting delegations.  He has also served as chair of the PNC/Disciples Northwest Region Global Ministries Committee.

The PROK, broke off from the Presbyterian Church of Korea in 1953 because of that church’s fundamentalist theology, was founded in 1885 by Protestant missionaries.

“The PROK has become the liberal, progressive Christian voice, he said of the church, which is growing fast and now has 150,000 members.  Christians are now one-fourth of the population of Korea,” he said.

Part of Evans’ time was to learn more about the Korean church and lives of Koreans.

Korean Christians have Wednesday evening services, Friday home gatherings and daybreak home prayer services, in addition to Sunday worship, Evans said.

ed evans
Ed Evans with Korean flag.

Pastors he taught in two-hour classes four days a week were mostly from small rural churches with 50 attending Sundays, but one pastor who came was from the Dang Kwang Church, a medium size church where Evans preached.

“Worship space is at a premium, so one PROK church worships on the 6th floor of a building that houses two other churches, a grocery store and business offices,” he said.

Evans said he began each class asking:  “How’s the weather in your life?’  From that story-sharing conversations began about health to theology to politics, including the divisive, complex issue of the reunification of North and South Korea.

He learned that PROK pastors tend not to comment on social justice issues when preaching.  They emphasize the gospel of personal salvation. 

“Some think that by being more conservative, they will draw more people, like conservative, evangelical congregations,” Evans commented.

Pastors asked him what he thought of U.S. President Barack Obama’s endorsing gay marriage.  When he said he supported it, they were stunned.  They had developed respect for him, and he supported gay marriage.

They spoke of the Bible condemning homosexuality.

Later, however, at Geumsan Church, established by early missionaries who preached a fundamentalist theology, he found that early preachers taught that the Bible mandated that men and women be separate in church because women were to be silent.  Their sanctuary was L shaped, so women sat in the area to the right of the pulpit and men sat in front of it.

They told him they discontinued that practice in the mid 1970s because their understanding of Scripture had changed.  While he didn’t speak up at that point about changed understanding of Scriptures on homosexuality, he hopes his witness might have stirred some thinking and sowed seeds of change.

The Goebek Church in Jeonju, three hours south of Seoul, considers itself a Confessing Church in the tradition of Dietrich Bonhoeffer when Nazi German philosophy encroached into the churches.

Rooted in the tradition of social justice, that church considers the government a dictatorship and speaks out against oppression.  When one of its pastors, Han Sang Yol visited North Korea to open doors of communication for reunification several years ago, he was arrested, tried and has been in prison the past year and a half.

“Members of that church experience discrimination in society and in the work place,” Evans said.

The pastor of another church introduced him to Jung Byeong-gil, his host two years ago then at Song Pa Church, is now director of the Christian Agricultural Development Institute in Jeonju.  He raises 5,500 chickens and sells 6,000 eggs a day to help support pastors and rural churches

Evans felt overwhelmed by the generosity of his hosts, including him in family gatherings, clergy-spouse retreats, meals, and visits to Buddhist and historic sites.

“They exposed me to Korean life that is not on the beaten path of tourism,” he said.  “In the process, seeds of friendship were planted.”

His hosts also took him to the Northeast Asia Mission Association Conference, the 39th since 1973, a gathering of church leaders from Taiwan, Japan and Korea.  They were considering how churches assist undocumented foreign workers in their countries

In the process, he and they were becoming friends.

“It was a time of understanding how we are all people of God, related to one another more intrinsically than we might ever have known,” he said.  We are living in the world, singing, praying and being church together.”

For him, the experience was a gift he wants to share with PNC churches.

For information, call 360-683-4704, email or visit


Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © September 2012





Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share