Photo credit: Northern Asia-Pacific Division

Northern Asia-Pacific

Korean Union Celebrates 120-Year Legacy of Missions, Remains Dedicated to National Evangelism

Seventh-day Adventism took root in the Korean Peninsula in 1904 and has grown ever since

For 120 years, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Korea has been fervently dedicated to spreading the Gospel and undertaking global missions.

This year marks the milestone anniversary since the proclamation of the three angels’ messages on the Korean Peninsula, holding special significance as it commemorates the remarkable 120-year mission of the Adventist Church in Korea in 2024.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church stands as an unwavering, authentic Christian church, and sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”) is authoritative for faith and practice. Within the broader Christian community, worshiping one God as Creator, embracing salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and holding the Bible as His inspired Word are defining characteristics of this church.

Embracing the Sabbath, the true day of worship outlined in the Bible, and anticipating Jesus Christ’s return as promised, the official title “Seventh-day Adventist” highlights these tenets. Adventists strive to embody a faithful community that earnestly translates the insights, gained through biblical studies, into practical daily living.

The roots of the Adventist Church’s history can be traced back to the early 1800s. During that era, a minority (remnant) group, influenced by the Adventist movement originating in the United States, engaged deeply in biblical study. They systematically organized foundational doctrines shared among various churches, establishing the groundwork for the church. In 1860, the church officially adopted its name, and by 1863, it had established its organizational structure to undertake global missionary endeavors. Presently, it spreads the Gospel across 212 countries, comprising over 96,000 churches, with a membership exceeding 22 million and involving more than 21,000 committed workers (2023 Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook).

In 1904, the Gospel was first brought to Korea by foreign missionaries. During the same period, while temporarily residing in Kobe, Japan, Hawaiian labor immigrants Lee Eung-hyun and Son Heung-jo encountered Minister Kuniya Hide. Their studies led to baptism at the Nunobiki Waterfall, signifying the birth of the Korean Adventist Church. This narrative distinguishes the Korean Adventist Church by emphasizing the embrace of faith through its people rather than relying on foreign missionaries. Following this milestone, missionaries dispatched from the U.S. headquarters actively engaged in evangelism, education, and medical missions, leaving a significant imprint on Korean society.

Upon the commemoration of the 120th anniversary, now well-progressed in the second century of missions, the Adventist Church has expanded to 830 churches (including meeting places) nationwide, comprising over 262,000 church members. In pursuit of national evangelism and the fulfillment of the missionary calling, 848 pastors and 3,657 workers toil diligently within the intermediate-level denomination (2023 Directory of Korean Union Churches).

For educational endeavors, the denomination operates two universities—Sahmyook University and Sahmyook Health University—alongside ten elementary schools and fifteen middle and high schools. As of October 2023, approximately 11,565 students were enrolled across 27 Sahmyook schools nationwide, with about 1,100 faculty members dedicated to their education.

Their commitment to holistic patient care spans various medical institutions, including two medical centers (Sahmyook Seoul Medical Center and Sahmyook Busan Medical Center), as well as Eden Senior Sanitarium Center, Yeosu Newstart Hospital, and the Sahmyook Adventist Dental Hospital. Beyond health care, they manage over 80 care facilities, welfare centers, and children’s centers, serving Korean society’s underprivileged and vulnerable segments.

Renowned for their product Sahmyook Soy Milk, Sahmyook Foods persistently endeavors to provide the nation with nutritious food. Similarly, Sahmyook Organic Farming and Sahmyook Nature Seven strive to supply consumers with honest, delectable food options and wholesome products. Through the SDA Language Institute and the accompanying kindergarten program, they wield a positive impact by delivering top-notch foreign language education to intellectuals and budding young minds.

Additionally, via the Korean Publishing House (Sijosa), their efforts extend to spreading the Gospel through religious and bilingual publications, spanning not just Korea but also across Asia and Africa. Moreover, they guide local communities and neighbors toward healthier, more fulfilling lives by advocating for unique health initiatives and promoting a balanced lifestyle.

The original version of this story was posted on the Northern Asia-Pacific Division website.

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