Hope Korean UMC moves to Little Rock, consecrates building

 

The Rev. Isaac Choh, left, Bishop Gary Mueller and the Rev. Maxine Allen, Arkansas Conference assistant director of connectional ministry for mission field engagement, guide Hope Korean UMC Little Rock through the consecration liturgy for the church’s new building. PHOTOS BY CATHERINE M. CAIN

The Rev. Isaac Choh, left, Bishop Gary Mueller and the Rev. Maxine Allen, Arkansas Conference assistant director of connectional ministry for mission field engagement, guide Hope Korean UMC Little Rock through the consecration liturgy for the church’s new building.
PHOTOS BY CATHERINE M. CAIN

By Amy Forbus
Editor

LITTLE ROCK—On the afternoon of June 5, voices rose together, singing praises to Jesus in Korean from the top floor of a former insurance company building near the south bank of the Arkansas River. Worshippers of all ages swayed in their seats as they joined the song leader to prepare for the consecration of Hope Korean United Methodist Church’s new home at 915 North Street.

The singing included praise songs as well as traditional hymn tunes, all with Korean lyrics. Worship was conducted in Korean and English under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Isaac Choh; Central District superintendent the Rev. Richard Lancaster was among the guests who spoke in English, offering a prayer thanking God for “a new place, an oasis to bring new life in the wilderness, that this place might be a springboard for renewal and revival.”

Formerly based in Jacksonville, the congregation made the move to Little Rock in response to the shifting Korean population in central Arkansas, which had been centered in the Jacksonville and Sherwood areas when the congregation began meeting in 1988.

“The Korean population has been growing in west and south of Little Rock,” Choh said. “So the church decided to relocate to the center of Little Rock which allows people to be able to come from all directions.”

Except for the tasks which had to be completed by a licensed electrician, all demolition and renovation work was performed by about 22 church members—17 of them women, says Choh—and a few additional workers.

The consecration service included a slideshow that chronicled the work church members did to turn a three-level office building into a space that includes a kitchen, fellowship area, offices, Sunday school area and a top-floor sanctuary space.

Bishop Mueller, left, waits as the Rev. Isaac Choh translates a portion of his sermon for the congregation of Hope Korean UMC Little Rock.

Bishop Mueller, left, waits as the Rev. Isaac Choh translates a portion of his sermon for the congregation of Hope Korean UMC Little Rock.

“Watching that, you know Resurrection is real,” said Bishop Gary Mueller following the slideshow. “From an old beat-up office building to a powerful place for worship.”

In his sermon, delivered in English with translation by Choh, Mueller compared the church’s sanctuary to the Upper Room where the disciples gathered for the Last Supper. “I cannot wait to see what happens in this Upper Room,” he said. “You have done a wonderful thing here.”

Mueller told the congregation that consecrating the new building is part of sharing in Jesus’ transformational love at work—the effort of making God’s love just as real on earth as it is in heaven.

“We are consecrating this building because you want a deeper relationship with Jesus,” he said. “We’re consecrating this building because you want to share Jesus’ love. We’re consecrating this building because you want to give Jesus all honor and glory. But maybe most of all, we’re consecrating this building because we know Jesus’ love does not depend upon how good you are, or how spiritual you are, or how you fit someone else’s idea of what it means to be a Christian, or what style of worship you like to have or even what kind of politics you have. We are consecrating this building because Jesus’ love is so great, so wonderful, so amazing, it’s the only thing we can do.

Worshippers lift a hand toward the pulpit at Hope Korean UMC to participate in Bishop Mueller’s prayer consecrating it.

Worshippers lift a hand toward the pulpit at Hope Korean UMC to participate in Bishop Mueller’s prayer consecrating it.

“This Jesus is the cornerstone. He joins you together. He builds up this church. You can trust him forever. And you will change lives for Jesus. God bless you.”

Choh, who has been appointed as pastor of Hope Korean since 2011, expects the congregation to continue focusing on the love of Christ in its new home.

“Church programs can enhance church life, but I believe our church members need to enhance everyday life by filling it with the Holy Spirit, along with church life. Our new space is our faith testimony that God led us to here, like the twelve stones at Gilgal,” he said, referring the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River in Joshua 4.

“I don’t know how God is going to lead our church from now on. But we follow God and follow what Jesus taught us to be. Then He will do His work through His people in His time.”