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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    Perspectives: South Korea Trip 2017

    The Korean Methodist Church does everything with excellence

    July 12, 2017 / By Rev. Everett Bassett, Oneonta District Superintendent

    Have a clear vision.  Be grounded in prayer.  Look beyond the church walls.  Be bold in trying new things.  Be accountable to a small covenant group.

    Those are conversation points we cover as we talk about how God is calling us to be the church of Jesus Christ in our context today. 

    We who were blessed to spend seven days under the amazing hospitality of Bupyeong Methodisit Church in South Korea were able to witness all of those goals lived out to a high degree; and I could write a reflection on any of them.

    But instead I am drawn back again and again to the value I saw exercised in every action of this church, and the other churches we visited – excellence.  Everything was carried out with visible attention to doing it excellently.

    I found myself humming (for the first time in decades) a hymn-tune from the old Sunday School hymnals of my childhood—Give of Your Best to the Master. My take-away image of the Korean church is that these great Christian people are giving their best to God at an amazingly consistent level.

    Here is one image that sticks with me:

    On our last evening, we were treated to a barbecue in the church courtyard.  The tables were elegantly set, and there were a centerpiece and four bottles of water on each. 

    A few minutes before we were served, I saw one of the associate pastors walk down the line of tables and inspect whether the bottles and centerpieces were lined up and spaced perfectly.  On my table, he moved a bottle half an inch, and rotated another about 20 degrees.  This careful attention was given at table after table.

    On the one hand, we might see that as troubling obsessiveness or perfectionism.  But I believe it is more that this pastor is part of a church whose DNA holds that what is done for Jesus is the very best that we can make it.  And I believe that drives the transformative ministry of Bupyeoung MC.

    I will not be doing any bottle inspecting soon (I missed that course in seminary).  But I hope to learn to look at those sermon notes one last time; pray one more time before making that church visit; rehearse the purpose of that meeting again; focus a little more on that conversation…

    Each time asking:  are the bottles lined up?  Is this the best I have to offer my Lord and my God? Does this represent the standard of excellence I would want to practice and exemplify before others?

    To whatever degree this becomes a deeper value in my ministry, I will thank God for the example of the Korean churches who shared God’s grace with us on this journey.  

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    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."