By HiRho Park, Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference
This summer, while traveling to South Korea, I was reminded of the importance of understanding my roots as a Korean American Christian.
Did you know that the Rev. Henry Gerhard Apenzeller, a Methodist Episcopal Church missionary, arrived in Korea in 1885 and started the first modern-style school for boys, PaiChai School for Boys, in Seoul, Korea? Mrs. Mary F. Scranton, a Methodist Episcopal Church woman missionary, also started the first modern educational institution for girls, Ewha School for Girls, in 1886 in Seoul, Korea. These two schools became the foundation of Korea’s modern educational system along with the YonSei medical school, which was established in 1886 by Dr. H. N. Allen, an American Northern Presbyterian medical missionary. The YonSei medical school is the birth of the YonSei University in Seoul, Korea where GBHEM’s Global Education Fund for Leadership Development Asia regional office is located at the present time. These three schools, established by American missionaries, became the foundation of one of the best educational systems in the world. According to the Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment in 2014, the South Korea education is ranked number one in the world.
These missionaries built schools before building churches. They healed the sick before they preached the gospel. In other words, they understood that evangelism is meeting the needs of people based on the redemptive spirit of Jesus Christ. They used education and medical skills as tools for evangelism.
If Methodist missionaries in 1800s were able to build educational institutions in countries where they did not even know the language, why can’t The United Methodist Church build the best online educational system in the twenty-first century? The UMC has built a network of Methodist-related seminaries and higher education institutions around the world: 13 UMC theological schools, 43 University Senate approved seminaries, 119 National Association of Schools & Colleges of the UMC, 11 historically Black United Methodist-related colleges, and 800 International Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities.
The network of these higher education institutions is the prime example of the benefit of UM connectionalism. The United Methodist Church is becoming more global, and the inclusion of different races and cultures will accelerate in the future due to the development of communication technology and fast, transnational transit. From this perspective, developing a relevant educational system that is globally accessible is urgent.
According to research conducted in 2007 by GBHEM’s Clergy Lifelong Learning office, the cost for continuing education was getting too costly under a declining economy. Many United Methodist clergy were seeking high quality continuing education materials with low cost. UMC Cyber Campus is designed to meet this need.
UMC Cyber Campus is based on this vision: evangelize the world through higher education by using our connectionalism as a worldwide church. UMC Cyber Campus is a gateway to higher education based on our Wesleyan heritage; it provides a single entry point through an online catalog and aims to enhance global access to free and affordable high-quality, church-related educational resources. GBHEM established this online educational system to develop confident and knowledgeable Christian leaders on an ongoing basis.
Some interesting features of UMC Cyber Campus are:
UMC Cyber Campus is a twenty-first century response to John Wesley’s vision, “The world is my parish,” a response that new technology allows us to make. This program will nurture grassroots leadership from a distance and empower local leaders. UMC Cyber Campus is a new expression of The UMC’s ethos, to make disciples of Jesus Christ through education based on our Wesleyan heritage. Please visit the site at www.umccybercampus.com and spread the word!
2019 – Unity in the Church
2018 – Claim Who We Are in Christ
2017 – Bodies, Oppression, and Gospel
2016 – Birthing a Worldwide Church
2015 – Clergywomen Lead Vital Congregations
2014 – Empowerment for All
2013 – What Next?
2012 – What Does the Lord Require of Us?
2011 – See, I am Doing a New Thing
2010 – Voicing Truth With Grace
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WellSprings, A Journal of United Methodist Clergywomen, is published by the Division of Ordained Ministry, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Editor: HiRho Y. Park
Managing Editor: Barbara A. Dick
Editorial Circle: Patricia Bonilla, Neelley Hicks, Anita Phillips, Jacqui Rose-Tucker, Trudy Hawkins Stringer