Korea's Religious Places - 3.7 Geumsan Presbyterian Church, Gimje
|Understanding Korea Series No.6|
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|6)* Jeam-ri Methodist Church, Hwaseong||7)* Geumsan Presbyterian Church, Gimje||8)* Ganghwa Anglican Cathedral, Ganghwado Island|
Geumsan Presbyterian Church (Gimje, Jeollabuk-do)
The Presbyterian movement in Jeollabuk-do dates back to 1897, when a missionary who took the Korean name Jeon Wi-ryeom, actually named W. M. Junkin, initiated missionary work in the Gimje area. There were buildings used temporarily for worship at the time, but then they were able to build their own church, a Korean-style building, in 1909, due to the efforts of a missionary named Lewis Boyd Tate, who used the Korean name Choe Wi-deok. Symbolic of his efforts, the church shows evidence of indigenization. The building was built in the Korean architecture of the time, referred to as hanok, and the proselyting effort moved toward ordination of Koreans as elders to lead the church.
The building was in the shape of an L, or of the Korean letter ㄱ (the k/g sound), with one wing on the north-south axis of five kan (a Korean traditional unit of measurement, defined as being a space of about two meters, or six to eight feet) in size, and the other wing on the east-west axis of three kan. Korean indigenization is seen in that the wings separated the men from the women; one wing was where men would sit, and the other wing was where women would sit. This dividing of the congregation by gender is in recognition of the Korean dictum “after age seven, the two sexes do not sit together.” There was even a curtain between them in the area where the two wings joined, at the podium for the speakers.
This separation of the sexes in the churches was seen in later buildings with the men sitting on one side and the women on the other side of a central aisle in the church. The practice continued in many churches into the post-liberation period.
Indigenization efforts were seen in the rapid ordination of new Korean members as church elders and leaders. The egalitarian nature of the Christian movement is also an important feature of the Geumsan Church, for it did not distinguish between classes, or between rich and poor. There was a separation of genders, but worshippers of all social classes met in one place to learn the Gospel and worship together.
On the property of the church today there is a modern, large chapel. But the church has taken steps to preserve the original building because of its historical importance in the beginnings of the Protestant church movement in Korea.