Sharing the Anabaptist vision in South Korea

Deborah Froese
June 18, 2013
Mennonite Church Canada
Stuart Murray and Kyong Jung Kim lead Anabaptist learning retreat in South Korea
Winnipeg, Manitoba

U.K. Anabaptist leader Stuart Murray engaged Anabaptists in South Korea during a country-wide speaking tour April 20-May 3.

Murray visited church groups in Chuncheon, Seoul, Daejeon, and Busan, engaging new Anabaptists at every stop. Like many Canadian Mennonites, Korean Anabaptists are contemplating what new ministry opportunities exist for a church in a post-modern age – and how to respond.

“Stuart’s lessons had a great impact,” said Kyong Jung Kim, director of the Korea Anabaptist Center (KAC) in a report following the event. “Everyone walked away with something of value.”

For Kim, lessons about how the church can approach a post-Christendom era were important. “Even though Korea was never influenced by Christendom,” he said, “it was Christendom-influenced Christianity that western missionaries brought to Korea about 200 years ago.”  The theology of both the Catholic and Protestant church in Korea were developed under the auspices of Christendom, which differs from the Anabaptist free, peace church tradition, he said.

“No wonder it has been so difficult for Korean churches to adapt a different understanding of theology and practices from an Anabaptist perspective…Starting from this view we can think and act differently from what the mainline church teaches,” Kim noted. “Stuart Murray's insights and teachings helped us to find different approaches to understand what it means to be a church and how to live out accordingly.”

Murray is the founder of the U.K. church planting mission Urban Expression, Chair of the Anabaptist Network in the U.K., as well as author of the popular book, The Naked Anabaptist (Herald Press, Waterloo, Ont., 2010).

Mennonite Church Canada helped its partner KAC bring Murray to South Korea.  About 30 people from across the country attended a short, learning-intensive retreat April 29-May 1at Pilgrim House, in Gapyeong. The group also explored Anabaptist history, approaches to church, missions and evangelism, and understandings of Christ.