The Korean Church in Melbourne, located in Malvern, is the oldest Korean church in Australia.
The congregation held its inaugural service at Burwood Presbyterian Church in 1973 and has since grown to become one of the largest Korean congregations in Melbourne.
James Chon worships at the Korean Church of Melbourne and appreciates being able to practice his faith in his native language.
“I enjoy being part of my congregation because it provides an opportunity for the Korean migrants in Melbourne to gather every week for a Sunday service or a Bible study or praise and worship, all in my mother-tongue,” Mr Chon said.
The church hosts a wide range of activities on any given week. Congregation members participate in cultural classes, sports activities, choir groups, prayer meetings and Bible studies.
“Obviously it is a big congregation and a big community, and you can be engaged in many different ways within this community.
“Three generations of Koreans come for the service, from kindergarten kids to high school students to young adults all the way to elderly Koreans.”
While church attendances are declining throughout Australia, the Uniting Church’s Korean population is growing at a rapid rate. According to the most recent census by the Victorian Multicultural Commission, there are more than 1,600 South Korean-born Uniting Church members in Victoria, which is a 25 per cent increase from the previous census in 2006.
This does not include the next generation youth who form a large percentage of the congregation. The Korean Church in Melbourne includes a number of children and young adult members and hosts a youth service every Sunday at noon.
“We have some 50 kids at kindergarten level, 100 primary school students, another 60 to 80 high school kids and two groups of young adults, one speaking in English and the other in Korean. Each of these young adult groups has about 50 members,” said Mr Chon.
The Korean Church in Melbourne is one of several Korean churches throughout the synod. Other Korean churches include: Hanbit Korean Church (Box Hill), Joong Ang Church (Kew), Melbourne Keunsam Church (Thornbury), Korean Uniting Church in Western Melbourne (Werribee) and Chiel Korean Church (Hobart).
Mr Chon said he feels blessed to be able to worship in a friendly and familiar environment.
“It is a very lively congregation and we are grateful for this. I certainly enjoy serving this church, just by watching it.”