Reverend Dr. Young Hoon Lee, the senior pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, met with faith leaders as well as community and political leaders within Southern California on Wednesday at a 'Meet and Greet Breakfast Reception' hosted by the Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD), a non-profit organization that actively connects the Asian American community, and in particular, the faith community through partnerships with business and governmental leaders. Yoido Full Gospel Church, located in South Korea, is one of the largest churches in the world with more than 800,000 members weekly.
Some of those from the political sphere who attended include Jim McDonnell, the Sheriff of the Los Angeles County Police Department; David Siegel, the Counsul General of Israel in Los Angeles; Daniel Tamm, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Interfaith Liaison; and Ben Pak, the deputy for Senate Pro-Tem Kevin De Leon in the 24th Senate District, a region which includes Koreatown. Faith leaders, including Yu Chul Jin, the senior pastor of Los Angeles Full Gospel Church; Cecil Murray from the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC; Andrew Benton, the president of Pepperdine University; John Derry, the President of Hope International University; Kang Pyung Lee, the president of Seoul Christian University and the Christian Council of Korea; and Byung Hee Lee, the senior chaplain of the Twin Towers Correctional Facility for Los Angeles County Jails, were also in attendance.
"For me, this gathering is very significant because it is a symbol of unification in the love of God," Lee said in his opening remarks. "And I'm excited that we can all work together to serve our community."
Though Lee himself pastors in South Korea, he expressed that he has had a vested interest in the American community because of the fact that there are so many Korean churches and families within the U.S.
"There are 2.2 million Koreans in the U.S.," Lee said. "And there are 7.5 million Koreans scattered throughout the entire world. But we are one in the Spirit of peace, and in the love of Christ."
Others in the gathering, particularly from the political sphere, showed concern for the interests and needs of the Korean faith community, including Daniel Tamm, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Interfaith Liaison.
"Mayor Garcetti knows that the main community for many is the faith community," said Tamm. "So he considers it very important to reach out and connect with faith groups to know their interests."
The gathering of about 40 people involved a time of discussion between Lee and the leaders that had gathered, during which they shared personal stories and also discussed more serious issues such as issues within the church and government. It also allowed for opportunities for both faith and community leaders to form relationships and see opportunities for collaboration in serving the needs of the community.
The reception also featured a time of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between KCCD and Yoido Full Gospel Church, through which the two groups publicly expressed their agreement in the desire to advance church leadership and to serve the underserved with the partnership of community leaders.
"I have great hopes and excitement in my heart regarding the MoU between KCCD and Yoido Full Gospel Church," Im said. "I hope and pray that this partnership will be a way through which we can glorify God more greatly together, and be an even greater blessing unto the community."
"Everything starts with engagement and meeting with people, but unfortunately, I think the Korean church has been lacking in that aspect of showing the leaders outside of the church walls the great contributions that the Korean church makes on the community," Im said. "But today, we had the L.A. County Sheriff, the Consul General of Israel, and other leaders, and they were able to have a renewed interest in the Korean community. It was a great opportunity for everyone to dream about future possibilities together."
"Jesus told us to be the light and salt of the world, but doing the Lord's work is not just confined within the church walls. I believe going out into the world, engaging in other fields, and changing the world in that way is also a calling for His kingdom," Lee said.
"And I believe that the time has come for the Korean church to become more and more integrated into the greater American community, and bring glory to God through that collaboration," he continued.
"Particularly, my hope is that the combined effort of the Korean church and the leaders in the country to serve the communities' needs would pave a way to do greater mission work. I believe that this is a way through which we can be faithful to the calling God has given us when he asked us to be the salt and light of the world."