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.