Mission Agency Board congratulates Presbyterian Church of Korea on 100th anniversary

Delegation of PC(USA) leaders head to Korea for centennial celebration

September 14, 2012


The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (formerly the General Assembly Mission Council today sent a letter of congratulation to the Presbyterian Church of Korea as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.

A delegation of about 20 PC(USA) leaders is traveling to Korea this weekend to join the Korean church’s celebration.

The Rev. Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission for the mission agency, told the board yesterday (Sept. 13) that the Korean Presbyterian church wasn’t exactly started by Presbyterian missionaries.

“In 1876 three Koreans were baptized in Manchuria by missionaries and they were the ones who really started the church,” Farrell said. The first congregation was started in 1884 by one of them ― Suy Sang Ryun ― in his home village of Sorae. That same year, the first Presbyterian missionary arrived ― Horace Allen ― followed the next year by Horace G. Underwood.”

The Korean Presbyterian church continued to grow until the Presbyterian Church in Korea was founded in 1912. Today, there are more Presbyterians in Korea than in any other country in the world, including the United States.

“There are, of course, many reasons for this,” Farrell noted, “but our Korean brothers and sisters will always tell us it’s the power of prayer and the transformative love of Jesus Christ.”

The full text of the mission agency board’s letter, approved on Sept. 14:

The Presbyterian Church (USA) would like to express great joy as we join the Presbyterian Church of Korea in celebrating 100 years of its General Assembly. We are humbled as we recognize God’s blessings in nurturing the relationship between our denominations. From the arrival of missionaries from the Presbyterian Church of North America and the work of Rev. Horace G. Underwood opening the Presbyterian Mission in Korea to the organization of the All-Korea Presbytery (Dok Presbytery), the foundation of the Presbyterian Church of Korea was being formed. The pursuit of excellence in faithfulness brought forth the fruit of the Spirit and throughout the years, the PCK built churches, universities, and seminaries that bear witness to the fullness of life in Jesus Christ.

Today we enjoy a wonderful mission partnership and look forward to new ways in which God calls us in ongoing service together. The Presbyterian Mission Agency joins Korea’s Christian community in a ministry that includes higher education and youth ministries, theological education, health ministries, women’s and children’s ministries, and peace education, reconciliation and reunification work. We look forward to continuing mission together as we bring young adults to the Young Adult Volunteer site at Han Nam University so that individuals from the United States may experience some of the ways in which the church in Korea actively engages in local community ministry.

Joining together in worship of thanksgiving for all that God has done, the Presbyterian Mission Agency was honored to receive a delegation from the Presbyterian Church of Korea in Pittsburgh during the gathering of our 220th General Assembly. The worship service we shared was a wonderful expression of the legacy of this centennial celebration. We look forward to our visit to Seoul and the General Assembly meeting of the Presbyterian Church of Korea in September. We pray that God will continue to inspire, equip and connect us as we are led into the future for the sake of God’s realm.

  1. In case no one really answered Sarah's question from a year ago, that commemorative coin with 1884 and 1984 on it was issued at the centennial celebration in Seoul mentioned by Rev. Howland. My parents attended. My father was born in Korea. His parents were missionaries in Andong from 1909 until 1925. His father died in 1922 and is buried there.

    by Barbara Winn

    September 6, 2015

  2. My son was medal detecting and found a huge coin that says the presbyterian church of Korea on it with a date of 1884-1984 but I can't find anything on line about it! Can someone tell me what it is??

    by Sarah

    October 14, 2014

  3. I want to know how will I become a part of world mission agency.i am the evangelist pastor here in south Africa.and that is the country which struggles a lot when coming to Christianity.

    by evangelist eric motete

    July 24, 2013

  4. The 1984 100th anniversary was in commemoration of the Presbyterian (mission) work in Korea which commenced in 1884 when Dr. and Mrs. Underwood were transferred to Korea . Jerry is right that 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the denomination 'Assembly of Presbyterian Church in Korea' (PCK) - meaning, the two celebrate different milestones in the formation and development of the Presbyterian Church in Korea.

    by Joanna Kim

    October 4, 2012

  5. Re: Peggy Howland's comment -- According to Hunter Farrell's timeline, the first Korean Presbyterian congregation was founded in 1884 -- that would make Peggy's celebration in 1984 the celebration of that milestone. The current celebration is the centennial of the formal establishment of the denomination. Any excuse for a party, I guess!

    by Jerry Van Marter

    September 17, 2012

  6. The Presbyterian Church of Korea had a 100th Anniversary celebration in 1984, which I attended as Vice-Moderator of the Synod of the Northeast (PCUSA), with a sizeable delegation from the Synods of the Northeast and Trinity. I am actually shocked to see a second 100th Anniversary celebration 28 years later!

    by Rev. Margaret E ("Peggy") Howland

    September 17, 2012