I. The Beginning


Pastor Paik Young Hie, who spearheaded the founding of the General Council, was originally one of the influential pastors in the Kosin Presbyterian Denomination.  But he heavily criticized the denomination leadership for shifting its focus from truth to politics.  As a result, PastorPaik was excommunicated in June, 1959, and he began to reestablish the track of faith that Kosin once sought after.


After about seven years of researching for the direction of the new track, it was decided that the denomination will pursue "local church-centered" administration over "denomination-centered" administration.  As a result, the General Council was established in 1966.  This was a unique attempt among Presbyteriansto seek a council-based denomination.



II. The Progress


On May 26th 1966, the principles for the new denomination were announced at the first General Council meeting.  The birth of the council-based church was a historic one in the Korean church, especially among Presbyterians.  Most of the churches in the new denomination were planted by those discipled by PastorPaik Young Hie, who later pastored Busan Seobu Church (famous for its world's largest Sunday school.)  The number of churches continued to increase from the pioneering 18 churches.  In 1970, there were 27 churches; in 1975, 40; in 1980. 62; in 1990, 100; in 1999, 166 including seven in the U.S.; and by 2004, the number has increased to more than 200.


From the beginning, the General Council had conservative characteristics. It emphasized that problems in the local church rooted in the pastor's Christian life and demanded high standards from their pastors.  Therefore, many clergies turned to other Presbyterian denominations with firm doctrine, but less demandingprerequisites for the pastor's personal life. This trend allowed the General Council's characteristics to spread to other denominations and sects, which in turn, broadened the scope of the General Council's teachings and doctrines from its limited membership.  


As a result, the General Council maintained a small membership while greatly influencing other conservative denominations and churches.  There are many influential individuals in the theological academia and in pastoral positions who clearly maintain the principles of the General Council.  



III.  The Recognition


Pastor Paik Young Hie always had focused on carrying out his pastoral responsibilities and never had held an official position.  The General Council and its flagship church, Seobu Church, also did not have a public relationship within the Korean church.  But in 1979, a secular magazine did a special report onthe "World's Greatest Sunday School," and for the next 10 years, Christian magazines ran many articles on Pastor Paik.  During this period, people from major denominations all over the country visited Pastor Paik's church, and as a result, he received nation-wide recognition.


The General Council always has avoided publicity or debate, even to a point of not printing service bulletins.  Considering the climate of the Korean church today, the General Council may appear a generation behind, but at the same time, it prototypes the reform that the next generation should seek.


Tran. by Peter Yoon

419-5 Yeosoonro, Yulchonmyon, Yeosu, Chunnam, Korea (556-893) l Tel 82-61-685-0186 Copyright (C) Paik Pastoral Institute All Rights Reserved.
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