South Korean and Philippine church leaders celebrated Easter Sunday on April 12 in Baguio City, Philippines, by vowing to become partners in working “for the greater harvest in the Gospel and for the glory of our God.”
They agreed, among other things, “to never exploit and steal sheep from one another” and to cooperate in “transforming our communities and beyond for Christ.” Simplicio Dang-awan Jr. of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the main speaker at the service, noted that South Korea’s Christian population has steadily grown and Korean churches have been sending missionaries overseas, including to the Philippines.
Many Koreans have come to the Philippines as Christian missionaries, mainly Protestant, especially Presbyterian and some Baptists, and have established their own churches, which cater not only for Koreans but to Filipino converts as well. In the process there was “stealing of sheep” from Philippine churches, acknowledged Song Eyung Kyu, president of the Korean Missionary Association in the Philippines. “So please forgive us for our sins,” he said in a prayer, before about 20 South Korean and more than 20 Filipino church leaders signed a “Covenant of Unity.”
In response, Alfonso Alonzo of a group called Prayer Network Gathering, said, “Please forgive us if we sometimes considered your wealthier churches as good sources of funds, for seeing your faces as wons [the Korean currency] like the way we earlier saw American missionaries as dollars.”
As of 2007, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade recorded their expatriate population in the Philippines at 86,800 individuals, up by 87 percent since 2005. But the Philippines immigration bureau reported that as of 2007 some 240,000 Koreans live in the country, though only a few of them are documented.
Dang-awan hailed what he called an “historic event” and the start of a genuine partnership. He noted, “After forgiving one another, Filipino and Korean church leaders will be supporting instead of exploiting one another.”
More than 5,000 parishioners from Philippine and Korean Protestant, evangelical, and Pentecostal churches attended the joint Easter service.