Zion UMC is located within a block of T. F. Green Airport, six miles south of Providence in Rhode Island. Zion congregants live all over Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts. 98% of worship attendants are Koreans and Korean Americans who speak Korean fluently. Approximately two-thirds of worship attendants including children and youth speak English fluently, too. Since 2002, Zion has been the first and only Korean United Methodist congregation that practices the Holy Communion every Sunday. We had the privilege of being awarded a Worship Renewal Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship for three years (2003-2006), which enabled us to work together in cultivating the recovery of both the table of the word and the table of the meal, an inculturation of worship, the active participation of the laity, and a bridging of generations.
Project: Culturally-Conscious Weekly Communion for Every Generation
Zion has practiced the weekly communion since the first Sunday of Advent in 2002, learning the significance of the two tables: the table of the Word and the table of the Meal. The recovery of two tables were especially motivated when we realized that worship, which is the center of the congregational life, also creates an enormous gap between the young generation and their parents’ generation, especially in Korean American congregations as well as other immigrant congregations. We have invited the children and youth to the sanctuary every Sunday to participate in the bilingual service of the Meal. While the Holy Communion is administered with spoken languages (Korean and English), the sacrament itself as a sign act dismantles the language barrier. By God’s grace through the presence of Christ, the weekly communion has enhanced the positive relationship between the young generation and the parents’ generation.
We also believe that inculturation of worship encourages the whole congregation, including children, to have self-respect as Korean American Christians, which is the first step toward respecting others. In our worship service and educational environments, therefore, Korean and Korean American cultures are appreciated and incorporated: for children under five years of age who learn more from images than text, the nursery room is surrounded by mural paintings with Korean folk tales, in front of which the Bible story is told. As we sing together with children and youths during/after the Holy Communion, various musical instruments including Korean traditional drums and other musical instruments are played whenever the musicians are available. We often experience that music becomes an important common language among the generations. We would like to be share Zion’s current works while being better informed and motivated by other faith communities.
35 Kilvert Street
Rev. Hyuk Seonwoo, minister
Choah Kim, musician
Hai Lanne Hahm, lay leader