Fayetteville church provides home for growing Korean congregation

Last year, Trinity United Methodist Church Fayetteville had an opportunity to extend a welcome to a sister congregation.

The Rev. Mackey Yokem, then superintendent of the Northwest District, contacted Trinity about the possibility of sharing their space with a Korean United Methodist congregation in the area.

“The Korean Methodist Church mission was in Springdale, but they were going to be moving,” said the Rev. Terry Gosnell, pastor of Trinity. “And [Mackey] said it would be wonderful to bring them closer to the university, because most of the congregants are students at the University of Arkansas. So it was a perfect mission field opportunity.”

Situated in the heart of Fayetteville, Trinity UMC lies about a mile north of the University of Arkansas. Gosnell says the area bustles with activity that includes people from a variety of backgrounds.

“There are large numbers of Korean students here, there’s a lot of diversity in our neighborhood, and so why can’t we be a part of that?” he asked.

When the Korean congregation moved from Springdale, where they had an average attendance of 38 people, to the more centralized location of Trinity, the numbers began to grow. Since the relocation, average attendance has grown by more than 30 percent.

“There are so many exciting things going on,” Gosnell said. “Rev. Kwan Shin is the young new pastor, and he’s been there for not even a year yet, but they are really growing.”

The arrangement has contributed to positive changes for Trinity’s worshipping community, as well.

“It’s not a club anymore,” Gosnell said. “It’s a vibrant community. It’s a community where we don’t lay claim to one part of the building; we’re learning to share. We’re learning that it’s not just about the building, that it’s about being the body of Christ, in many parts. And it’s so amazing.”

Gosnell sees this type of flexibility as an example of what churches may be called to do through the Imagine Ministry process.

“Imagine Ministry is all about thinking outside of the box—rethinking church, so to speak—and being more missional,” he said. “We did have some amazing missional opportunities right in front of our faces—to break out of our comfort zone, and embrace diversity, and truly be a welcoming congregation.”

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI4xj4LoU7g