Friday night worship at Hope Korean UMC
January 29, 2019 / By Pastor, Jee Hae Song, Hope Korean UMC
Hope Korean UMC is a rather unique congregation. Though its name has “Korean” in it, it is multi-cultural group. We have diverse people from various ethnicity, race, and nationality. But we all share one thing in common: Hope Church is our home. The motto of Hope Church is a “Home away from Home.”
This diversification has begun from a crisis. In recent years, Hope Korean UMC had lost its older members due to death and outward migration of Korean Immigrant population. But as in Korean proverb, “Crisis is an opportunity.” The location was very handy for reaching out young adults in Syracuse University. I, the minister, discerned the student / young adult ministry as the Church’s new vision. Through thorough researches, I concluded that there are great spiritual needs in international student body. So the church began to invite international students from Syracuse University. Moreover, the ministry has become more diverse in recent days because members began to invite Americans and non-students. So, this congregation has become a multi-cultural group.
The core of this fellowship is definitely our Friday event, “Dinner Church.” As its name suggests, the purpose of this gathering is “Church” and “Dinner.” We begin with the “Church” segment. It is inviting and inspiring praise worship. The praise team lead the worship with four or five songs. We have a particular theme for every week, such as Christ, mercy, hope, Light of the World, or Holy Spirit. We sing songs that are relevant to the theme.
In addition to praise songs, I give a short message during the praise service. When I talk, I intentionally try not to be “preachy” or use dogmatic vocabularies or inside language. This is because many international students are new to faith. My goal is to let these new Christians hear about Jesus Christ and the Gospel, so the seed of the Gospel would be planted in the soil of the listeners’ hearts.
When we finish the “Church” segment, we move on to the “Dinner” segment. We eat food, sometimes home-cooked by various volunteers or sometimes catered. We are famous for always having lots of food. Feeding the soul and the body is important mission of Hope. “Dinner” is not merely eating food, but it is a continuation of the “Church” because in sharing table together, we also share our lives and build relationships. We are building a church in sharing the table. So, Hope fellowship builds a community of faith with singing praises and sharing life together.