Called amidst flames
Missionaries arrived in Korea from the US South Methodist Episcopal Church by request of Yun Chiho, an intellectual of the Enlightenment Party, during the end of the Korean Empire to carry out missionary work mainly focusing on the Seoul and Kaesong area.
Kwanghuimun Church, the parent institution of the current Kwanglim Church, is the second chapel that was built in Seoul.
Inauguration Service of Kwanglim Church at Goya Temple (1953)
Members gathered at Kwanghuimun Church to guard their faith before and after the Korean War. The church gradually revived resulting in the church being too small to accommodate all the members.
In 1953, it was decided to establish a branch church.
An inauguration service was held under the name of the “Second Kwanghuimun Church” at the location of now Dongbuk Middle and High School, which was then a temple building of Goya Temple.
Led by members defected from North Korea escaping from being persecution for their faith and the founding pastor Eungshik Min, Goya Temple was decided to be their place of worship where approximately 35 young and middle aged adults gathered to give their first overwhelming worshipping service.
Take off your shoes, for this is holy ground
On February 28, 1971 Sundo Kim was appointed the fifth senior pastor.
Born in Sonchon County, North Pyongan Province, Pastor Kim attends medical school dreaming to become a doctor, but faced with death during the Korean War gives a covenant prayer of “Lord, if you save my life, I will serve as your servant my whole life” and begins to study theology after the war.
Ssangnim-dong Era (1954-1978)
The Second Kwanghuimum Church, embarked upon tears and overwhelming joy, experienced sorrows in the beginning as the church was without a chapel.
Members prayed with tears and finally gathered enough offerings to construct a chapel. On November 14, 1954 a cornerstone was laid out to begin the construction of the chapel. At this time, the name of the church was changed to Kwanglim Church taking one syllable each from the two districts the church covered, Kwanghuimun and Ssangnim-dong. The biblical interpretation of Kwanglim (forest of light) is cited from Exodus 3 ‘flames of fire amidst the bush’ and in English can be interpreted as the ‘Burning Bush Church.’
This has the same meaning as when Moses met the Lord at Mount Horeb in the bush that did not burn and the holy calling to save the Israelites from suffering and sickness under the reign of the pharaoh of Egypt.
As God called Moses, the missionary community of Kwanglim was chosen, upon hearing the cries from the descendants of Israel, to be used for this country and worldwide evangelism.
Kwanglim Church, a big fishing ground of men
Circumstances were that billions of won had to be borrowed to construct the church. Kwanglim Church approached the chairman of Shindonga Group, who was an acquaintance, to ask for a 300 million won unsecured loan.
Chairman Soonyoung Choi replied he would pray and make a decision. That night Chairman Choi’s wife Hyeongja Lee dreamt Pastor Sundo Kim throwing a fishnet out from the Third Han River Bridge and hauling up so much fish the net was on the brink of ripping up.
Chairman Choi gained confidence that Kwanglim Church will become a leading church and lent Kwanglim Church the money.
Sinsa-dong Era (1978~)
Construction of the church was briskly underway. However, a permit was not granted citing that the bell tower designed to be 75 meters high could interfere with gun firing in the event of a possible war.
Construction was delayed 3~4 months, but eventually the permit was granted. However, while the construction was suspended a big puddle formed at the site, which was dug for groundwork, where many carps were found. Seeing that sight, the members at the time anticipated the Lord had a great vision to fulfill through Kwanglim Church and began praying for a “chapel fit for 1,000 members on 2,000 pyung of land.” In the fall of 1976, 200 million won was collected at the Wesley Great Assembly where Pastor Sundo Kim was a speaker.
Following the suggestion of Pastor Sundo Kim that ‘as the Seoul population migrates in massive amounts to the Gangnam area, we should prepare a site in the Yeongdong district,’ the church prayed for two years determined to find a new site in the Yeongdong district.
A mature community of faith
On March 25, 2001, Chungsuk Kim was appointed as the sixth Senior Pastor. Graduate of Seoul Theological University (B.A.), Methodist Theological University (M.A), and US Asbury Theological Seminary (Ph.D), Senior Pastor Chungsuk Kim stresses on the significance of mature faith and holy life to attain ‘personal sanctification’ advocated by John Wesley. Pastor Kim’s priorities in ministry are to develop a mature church, joining in the work of the Holy Spirit based on the gospel and prayers, and to nurture faithful members who share the fruit of blessings with others.
Millennium Era (2000~)
Early on Kwanglim Church had a vision to establish a missionary base in Turkey, a center of the gentile mission. In the fullness of time, in June 2000 a protestant church was established in Antioch to become the first of its kind in the history of Protestantism.
In the ensuing years, in May 2008 Shenzhen Kwanglim Church came into being where religious activities were strictly controlled and, in December 2008, the refurbished International Kwanglim Vision Land reopened to train members of active faith.
Community of holy love: Beyond individuals to society
The Social Service Center is a space to realize “social sanctification” emphasized by the founder of Methodism, John Wesley.
Social Service Center (2013~)
Through the Social Service Center, Kwanglim Church will serve alienated neighbors in the society, expand the kingdom of God by communicating with the world and continue to fulfill the calling of God.
The Center is equipped with a bazaar center, daycare center, childcare center, kindergarten, fitness center, multipurpose convention center, a library, reading and study rooms to become a venue for the community.
Furthermore, the Center will serve as a place of culture with a café, restaurant, bookstore, computer room, history hall and musical theater.