Korean Church Court Dodges Decision on Pastoral Succession

News & Reporting | 7/16/2019 | Staff
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The two-year saga embroiling the world’s largest Presbyterian church remained unresolved Tuesday, despite a scheduled ruling from the denomination’s court.

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Court - Church - Korea - PCK-Tonghap - Legitimacy

The court of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK-Tonghap) failed to determine the legitimacy of the 2017 accession of Kim Ha-na to the senior pastor role at Myungsung Presbyterian Church, a 100,000-member congregation in Seoul founded by Kim’s father, Kim Sam-whan.

The 15-member PCK-Tonghap court resumed its meeting with a morning service at the Korean Church Centennial Memorial Building in Seoul. PCK-Tonghap is the second-largest of more than 100 Korean Presbyterian denominations, with more than two million members and almost 20,000 pastors.

Decision - Pm - Tuesday - Dozens - Journalists

Although the decision was due by 6 p.m. Tuesday, and dozens of journalists and activists waited outside the meeting room, no ruling was released until 8:30 p.m.

About 7:30 p.m., two members of the court left the room, one saying, “There’s nothing to expect. We tried to make things right.” When the two doors to the meeting room opened an hour later, what ensued was an emotional jostling between activists and the PCK court.

Student - Church - Reform - Meeting - Room

Student and church reform activists poured into the meeting room followed by journalists. The PCK court head, Kang Heung-guk, declared a decision had been deferred to August 5, and apologized for failing to deliver on last month’s promise to announce a ruling on Myungsung. The court’s chief umpire, Oh Yang-hyun, added that the PCK court is aware of the severity of the Myungsung case, and compared the gravitas of the current deliberations to the PCK court’s 1938 decision to condone Shinto worship during the Japanese colonization of Korea.

As dozens of student and church reform activists had waited for more than 10 hours since the morning’s press conference held outside the building, some students broke down in tears while others expressed their...
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