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Korean New Faith Community Charters

Posted: November 16 2021 at 05:49 PM
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Chicago Jesus Love worships at Central UMC in Skokie.

Through many prayers and support for more than a decade-long journey, Jesus Love Korean New Faith Community (NFC) became a chartered United Methodist Church on Nov. 14. 

"As we have heard from African wisdom, 'It takes a village to raise a child!' That has been true in the process of this new faith community coming to fruition," said Rev. Martin Lee, NIC Dir. of Congregational Development and Redevelopment. "Since we planted Jesus Love NFC in 2008, as a part of the conference Harvest 2020 movement, so many people have been involved in the process. As the apostle Paul said, 'I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow.'"

Along the way, Jesus Love has gone through many changes, including three bishops, three District Superintendents, two pastors, and a pandemic that postponed their chartering for two years. Today, the congregation has grown to 145 chartering members with a mission to serve and love their community. They share space with Central UMC at 8237 Kenton Ave., in Skokie, Ill.

Jesus Love's lead pastor Rev. Sun Hyung Jo says only 30 people were attending when he first came in 2013. Today, 90% of the Korean congregation is in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, and there are nearly 40 families with young children. The congregation's younger population includes 30% working young adults, 20% undergraduate students from Northwestern University, and 35 children and six youth.

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Bishop John L. Hopkins (left) presided over the chartering service for Chicago Jesus Love on Nov. 14, 2021 with Lake North District Superintendent Brittany Isaac (center) and Rev. Sun Hyung Jo (right).

Bishop John L. Hopkins, Lake North District Superintendent Brittany Isaac and Rev. Lee presided over the chartering service. The church's official name is Chicago Jesus Love.

Bishop Hopkins said during his message, "Today we are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us."

He referred to the apostles and prophets whose cornerstone was Jesus Christ. "They carried the message of God's awesome love in Jesus to those who did not know the peace of Christ and felt included in God's salvation," said Bishop Hopkins. "Now is your time to build on the foundation of the apostles and prophet and make Jesus Christ your cornerstone."

Rev. Jo said the service and the Bishop's message felt like a new calling from God and for Jesus Love, especially in Chicagoland and worldwide.

"I feel like it's a new start for this congregation and how to be part of universal church for the glory of God," said Rev. Jo. "Our mission is simple: We want to make a new church to confess Jesus' love in action, by loving worship, loving the word, loving church and loving people."

Since his appointment in 2013, Pastor Sun Hyung Jo has baptized 20 people and has three people in a baptismal class. The congregation has six active small groups, supports a missionary in Jordan,  advocates for undocumented immigrants, and fully pays conference apportionments, said Rev. Lee. 

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The congregation has been blessed financially over the years. In recognition of that blessing each year during their anniversary celebration, the congregation gives back by taking an offering to develop other new faith communities totaling more than $6,000.

"I thank God for the first church planting Pastor, Rev. Kook Jin Yun and his wife, Mi-Kyung, for their sacrificial work and for the current Pastor Sun Hyung Jo and his wife, Monsoon, for their resilience and love for the 1.5 generation of Korean people in Chicagoland," said Rev. Lee.

Kelly Yang who is on the church's leadership team says Jesus Love feels like home for her family. "My husband and I have two daughters and we find comfort here," said Yang. "Worship here is a big part of our life and I can feel it in my heart."

Ryan and Jessica Lee and their 2-year-old son moved to the Chicagoland area from New Jersey about a year ago and found a church home at Jesus Love. "This church is a grace for our family," the couple said.

Numerous partners beyond the Northern Illinois Conference, including the Korean National Plan of the General Board of Global Ministries, the North Central Jurisdiction Korean Mission and the connection of Korean congregations that stretches from California to New York Island helped Jesus Love grow along the way.

"The support both spiritually and temporally from these organizations has been essential to the success of this congregation," said Rev. Lee.

Chicago Jesus Love has seen many young professionals come to have faith in Jesus Christ during its ministry.

"There is a rich pool of gifts in this congregation that I am confident will be an asset to the reign of God for many years to come," said Rev. Lee. "This church will have an impact around the world. It already does, as with its short-term missions to Mongolia, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. The people of the church have experienced Jesus making a way, something that Bishop Hopkins alludes to regularly."

Learn more about Chicago Jesus Love at jlchurch.org.

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Chicago Jesus Love's 145 chartering members pose making signs of a heart following the service.

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