Congregations at Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church in Vinton are eagerly looking forward to a visit from retired United Methodist Bishop Young Jin Cho on August 10-12.
He was invited by the Korean Church that meets at Thrasher on Sunday afternoons to lead a revival to celebrate the first anniversary of their church. He will speak to the Korean Church at 7:30 p.m. on August 10 and 11 and at 3:30 on August 12, with services held in Korean.
He will also be speaking at the three regular morning services at Thrasher on Sunday at 8, 9 and 11 a.m.
According to Pastor Baesick “Peter” Choi who leads the Korean Church and invited Bishop Cho to speak, “The Korean church is growing in both numbers and spirit which is a blessing. We continue to pray that we can reach more people in the Roanoke area.”
The Korean Church formed in August 2017 and began meeting at Thrasher on March 11, 2018, with services entirely in Korean.
The congregation started out gathering for worship in members’ homes, then at a small office before being invited by Thrasher to make their home there.
Thrasher Pastor B. Failes saw this as a “great opportunity for our church to be in mission to the over 200 Korean people in the Roanoke Valley.”
Members of the Korean congregation come from all over the area. Pastor Choi says that many of the families are Americanized Koreans who have lived in the area since the 1970s. There are also many multicultural families in the area with Korean members. Several speak Korean and English, but Korean is “more comfortable for them.”
Choi says they truly feel that “God is leading us” with the establishment of their new church and ministry.
Members of Thrasher UMC are excited to welcome Bishop Cho to their services as well this weekend, as he is held in high esteem by Pastor Failes, who frequently mentioned Cho during his tenure as Bishop of the UMC Southeastern Jurisdiction from 2012 to 2016.
“After hearing Bishop Cho preach, it is not hard to understand why he served the largest and fastest growing church in the Virginia Conference,” said Failes. “He has a passion for Christ that brings a power to his words. His leadership and friendship as a bishop have helped me tremendously. I look forward to hearing him again.”
Bishop Cho says that he was delighted with the invitation from the Korean Church to speak at their revival.
“My message for the Korean congregation will be about the basics of Christian faith: faith, hope and love,” said Bishop Cho. “I am also deeply grateful to Rev. B. Failes for his gracious invitation to preach at his church on Sunday morning.
“My message to them will focus on Christian hope founded on God’s amazing love,” said Bishop Cho. “We still have hope even though we are in the midst of suffering, illness and failure, because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We are called to live as more than conquerors.
“Two years ago, I retired from active ministry, but I have not retired from my mission of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people,” added Cho. “It is always my great joy and honor to be invited to preach on our Lord who is still the way, the truth and the life.”
Bishop Cho was born in South Korea and graduated from the Methodist Theological Seminary in Seoul. He came to the United States in 1979 and earned his Master and Doctor of Divinity degrees from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D. C. He was ordained in the East Annual Conference of the Korean Methodist Church in 1977 and transferred to the Virginia Conference in 1983.
He served as senior pastor of Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington (KUMCGW) in McLean, Va., for 22 years before being appointed superintendent of the Arlington District in 2005.
During his tenure at KUMCGW, church worship attendance grew from about 100 to more than 1,000; hundreds of adults and youths were baptized; and three building projects were completed. The church grew to have the largest worship attendance in the conference and remains one of the most vital congregations in the Virginia Conference.
Bishop Cho was elected and consecrated as a bishop at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2012. He is the first Korean-American elected to the episcopacy in that jurisdiction and the first bishop there to be immediately assigned to lead his home annual conference. He retired in 2016 after serving one four-year term overseeing nearly 1,200 churches and about 335,000 Methodists across most of Virginia.
Bishops are assigned by their jurisdiction or central conference to serve a geographical area for a four-year term. There are 46 Episcopal areas in the United States and 20 Episcopal areas outside of the United States.
Bishop Cho and his wife Kiok Chang were married in 1975 in Seoul, Korea. They have two daughters, one son, and one grandson.
Thrasher welcomes the community to attend both the Korean revival and the English-speaking morning services at Thrasher on August 12 to hear the message from Bishop Cho.