Sa-Rang Community Church

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Jake

Puritan Board Senior
Apparently, the Sa-Rang Community Church in Anaheim, CA is the largest church in the PCA. Does anyone know anything about it? There main site is in Korean, but I found another site with information about their English services: Holy Wave of SaRang Community Church

In particular... What does it mean to be a Pastor, Associate Pastor, or Pastoral Intern within the PCA? There are women listed as all three of these on their English website.

Note: It is not my intent to disparage the PCA or this church. Being at Covenant College, an agency of the denomination, I have seen a lot of diversity within the church and have talked to people that come from all kinds of PCA churches. However, this church seems to be very different from the norm in the PCA and I would imagine it would be influential just by its sheer size, yet I have hardly ever heard anything about it.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I forgot to word my question Joshua-proof. I knew this would happen one day. :lol:
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
Wow. Another case of a large congregation disregarding the standards of our denomination. Sad.
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
Not going to lie, this is both surprising and disturbing. I'm sincerely hoping there is some explanation for this. :bueller:
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
largest church in the PCA
How big is the congregation?
Wikipedia lists it at over 8,000: Sarang Community Church of Southern California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This web-site cited by Wikipedia lists attendance at 8,750: Outreach Magazine

The other citation on Wikipedia gives 8000: Megachurch Search Results - Hartford Institute for Religion Research

I found some other websites with numbers in those ranges, but I couldn't find any information on the site or the PCA's site. The PCA web site does list the church and the church web site mentions the PCA.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
That is peculiar, not to disparage the Koreans in the PCA but this is not the first time I heard about something like this happening in that neck of the cultural woods.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Wikipedia lists it at over 8,000
Thanks. That could make it the largest. I would note, as you frequently find with megachurches, they are counting attendance, not membership.

Coral Ridge used to be the largest at about 11,000, as I recall, but they got down to a couple of thousand after that. I'm not sure what the current numbers are, but they should be well below 8000.
 

Jaewon

Puritan Board Freshman
As someone who knows both Korean and English, I checked their English website and Korean website and did some researches on the church in Korean. These are what I found:


1. The Sa-Rang church

The Sa-Rang church is one of the mega-churches in South Korea and a part of GAPCK (General Assembly of Presbyterian Church in Korea). As far as I know, GAPCK is the largest presbyterian denomination in South Korea. As a presbyterian denomination, it adopted the Westminster Standards as their doctrinal statements; however, this denomination is not confessional in doctrine and in practice at all although there is a minority of local congregations that tries to be confessional. The general atmosphere of the denomination is church growth movement + prosperity gospel + a bit of charismatic flavor. The Sa-Rang church in Korea is not very different. From what I gathered, the Sa-Rang church (PCA) in California is no better.


2. Pastors, Associate Pastors, and Pastor Interns

I checked both English website and Korean website and found that there was a difference in information. In Korea, there are some steps you take to be a pastor, and usually this is manifested in hierarchy. When one has a pre-seminary degree or Bible degree, regardless of one's gender, he or she can be "evangelist (that is translated as a Pastor Intern or even a Pastor in English website but that is not accurately translated)." An evangelist does almost every "small jobs" in a church. He or she could act as a secretary, a desk person, a head of a Sunday school, or a youth director. An evangelist is not considered an ordained pastor, but in Korea, they can still preach if their boss (senior pastor) allows them to. When one graduates from seminary and takes a test, one can be a "probationer." A probationer is, in the truest sense, a pastor intern and listed as such in English website. GAPCK does not allow women in ministry (yet), so women cannot be probationers. After few months of internship and examination, a probationer can be a pastor. Anyway, those women who are listed as "pastor" in English website are actually listed as "evangelists" in Korean website, which means that these women are not ordained. The practice of having women "evangelists" in Korea is questionable still, but it does not mean that the Sa-Rang church ordained women as pastors.


3. Denominational tie

You have to understand that in South Korea, a denomination does not mean much. The "success" (that is numerical growth) of individual congregation takes a priority. It is no exaggeration to say that the Sa-Rang Church is in itself a "denomination." Many mega-churches that have multi-sites (or multi-campus) act that way. The Sa-Rang church in California, therefore, is governed by a set of principles laid by the Sa-Rang church back in Korea. It is a part of PCA, but it does not mean very much to them.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
As someone who knows both Korean and English, I checked their English website and Korean website and did some researches on the church in Korean. These are what I found:
Thanks for your help on this.

Could you help me with something else? There is a Korean church in our neighborhood, and I know that it isn't PCA, but since their web site is in Korean, I can't figure out their affiliation. ´Þ¶ó½º¿µ¶ôÀå·Î±³È¸ ȨÆäÀÌÁö¿¡ ¿À½Å°ÍÀ» ȯ¿µÇÕ´Ï´Ù. I'm just trying to keep track of my neighbors. They'll occasionally put out door hangers in English announcing a concert.

Thanks.
 

Jaewon

Puritan Board Freshman
Dallas YoungNak Presbyterian Church is affiliated with GAPCK. The website says that the church was affiliated with PCA in 1985 but decided to leave PCA in 1995. I don't know what happened there. On the website, there is no evidence that the church is confessional (no mention of Westminster Standard) or consciously reformed, which is pretty typical of GAPCK congregation. But again, it's just from their website, so my knowledge is limited.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
Jaewon,

Thank you very much from your comments. I was sincerely hoping that the pastors was something that was mistranslated. That still does not sound like it would align with the PCA well, but it sounds better than it looked at first. Still, it appears that many of these female evangelists/pastors are going to seminary, and out of all the seminaries listed for staff and ministers, none appeared particularly reformed (Talbot was a popular choice).

Your other comments are also very helpful. An elder at my church served as a missionary in Korea for many decades and much of that sounds similar to what he has told me. I had hoped that those churches within the PCA would be different, but not so much. I wonder how such things can happen within the PCA? Is there a reason that Korean presbyteries are separate from English ones?
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
Dallas YoungNak Presbyterian Church is affiliated with GAPCK. The website says that the church was affiliated with PCA in 1985 but decided to leave PCA in 1995. I don't know what happened there. On the website, there is no evidence that the church is confessional (no mention of Westminster Standard) or consciously reformed, which is pretty typical of GAPCK congregation. But again, it's just from their website, so my knowledge is limited.
It seems like a lot of American Korean Presbyterian churches are affiliated with the PC(USA). I know for example in Chattanooga, where there are more PCA churches than PC(USA), including most of the larger churches (and there are also a few EPC, an OPC, and a few varieties of Cumberland type), the Korean church is PC(USA). I have talked to some Koreans on campus who have gone there and it sounds like it is very charismatic, but still evangelical. I also have some friends here that go to a PC(USA) church that is Korean language. The pastor was actually educated in a seminary that typically trains for the PCA and the church was PCA, but the confessional aspect became a problem, even in the Metro Atlanta presbytery. I wonder if the Koreans are forced into the PC(USA) because they are basically evangelical, but not nearly as strict to the confessions as even denominations like the EPC in the US.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Dallas YoungNak Presbyterian Church is affiliated with GAPCK. The website says that the church was affiliated with PCA in 1985 but decided to leave PCA in 1995. I don't know what happened there. On the website, there is no evidence that the church is confessional (no mention of Westminster Standard) or consciously reformed, which is pretty typical of GAPCK congregation. But again, it's just from their website, so my knowledge is limited.
Thanks. My area is becoming Asian (the school that my daughter attended is now 35% Asian, mostly Chinese), so I'm trying to keep up. I'm expecting the Korean church to accelerate the trend.
 

Jaewon

Puritan Board Freshman
I wonder if the Koreans are forced into the PC(USA) because they are basically evangelical, but not nearly as strict to the confessions as even denominations like the EPC in the US.
I think your assessment is pretty accurate. Korean presbyterian churches are largely evangelical with a slight touch of charismatic flavor. Even the very conservative ones neglect or ignore their doctrinal standards. For instance, I grew up in GAPCK congregation and had never heard of the Westminster Standards until I came to Michigan to study abroad. Probably not many Korean presbyterian churches, therefore, can survive within conservative presbyterian denominations in the United States.
 
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