By James Chong, an elder at the Toronto Korean United Church, the oldest Korean church in Canada
Life in Canada was difficult for early Korean immigrants. Many were lonely and missed their families back in their home country. Recalling their positive experiences with Canadian missionaries in Korea, many Korean Canadians sought affiliation with a Christian denomination. Many were familiar with and eager to join the United Church of Canada.
For many Korean immigrants, church came to represent not only a centre for worship but also the heart of ethno-cultural life. The church became a community centre and place of support for newcomers to the country.
There are approximately 26 Korean-Canadian United Church ministers. Many are serving in rural churches where the only ethnic minority person is in the pulpit.
Korean Canadian ministers also serve in ethnic majority congregations across Canada, and the women of Korean United Church congregations are active in celebrating women’s ministry.
It is estimated that three-fourths of Korean-Canadians ties to a church. Toronto alone is home to Canada’s largest Korean-Canadian population and has 150 Korean churches.