Free Social Functions of the Korean Church Essay Sample
In the United States, so many Korean immigrants mostly attend the ethnic churches. These churches offer social functions to the Korean faithful and the Korean society. The major role of this article is to analyze the social functions of Korean immigrant churches. Some of the social functions include provision of fellowship to the Korean immigrants, the retaining of the Korean culture, provision of services socially to the Korean immigrants and the Korean society, and provision of status in a social perspective to the Korean immigrants (Kim 33).
The number of Korean-American churches has increased from less than 75 in 1970 to 1624 as of January 1986. The estimated total size of the Korean -American population in 1986 is about 750,000, and thus, the population church density is approximately one church per 462 Korean immigrants in the United States. The possibility of the Korean immigrants opening up churches in the United States has resulted to an anecdote, which deduces that, any time two Koreans meet, they open up a church (Kim 37). This observation on high population church density of Korean-American churches is backed up by statistics on ethnic churches. For instance in 1986, 260 Korean American churches are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), while the corresponding numbers of the Chinese-American, Japanese-American, and Filipino-American churches are only 19, 16, and 4, respectively.
It has been noted that, the proportion of Korean-Americans who are Christians is on the higher side than that of the population in Korea. Recent survey shows that, almost 70% of the immigrants establish themselves as Christians. For instance, in New York, there are more than 180 Korean faithful who reside in the environs (Kim 43). The Korean-American faithful have replaced the declining white congregation in the cities of metropolitan regions. In fact, the first united Methodist church is comprised of two congregations, one of the Americans heavily rooted in the country and that of Korean immigrants. However, the Korean immigrant's population is so high that they are distributed over two services on a given Sunday. They surely have seen America as the land of opportunity to seek spiritual satisfaction.
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Although history has it that, the Koreans have never had an interest in being Protestants, Christian faithful are so many in the united states who are Korea immigrants. Specifically in Hawaii, it is deduced that, around 45% of Christians were immigrants who went to seek spiritual satisfaction in the United States. Studies further shows that, the Korean immigrants occupied the ethnic churches in the United States (Min & Min 45).
With so many Korean churches cropping up in the United States, several factors are associated with this influx. The Korean immigrant society is well endowed with a variety of church ministers who come to the United States as theological students. This has been so especially due to the passing of the immigration and naturalization act, which allows permanent residency to a qualified ethnic minister. Another factor altogether is the social function of the church, which has attracted so many of them who are looking for a platform for personal community, which offers them with an atmosphere like that one of a family. It has been noted that, churches to the Korean immigrants have become an avenue for defending the Korean culture against the larger societies, in this case the Americans. Finally, most of the Koreans believe that much is taken to waste if one worships without using his own language. These churches have indeed made major contributions in the development of Korean immigrant. They provide programs, which enable them, adapt, and be in a position to settle which are not available in many organizations, which are not religious (Moon 22).
Since time immemorial, studies, which have been conducted in the United States, indicate that, churches are indeed vital back up for social function to the immigrants. The studies indicate that, especially the Koreans, they have managed to come up with a different identity using their spiritual beliefs and have made use of churches as a network to establish a society to represent what they have back at home (Min & Min 48). It is in churches, which comprise people from their country that makes them feel comfortable and be in a position to speak their mind without fear. It is in these churches where friendship starts and people share their experiences and this enables them to feel that they are indeed at home. The studies carried out indicate that immigrant churches based in the United States offer diverse social services and create so many other networks besides many becoming friends. From 70s, the intense influx of the Korean immigrant's churches in the United States has triggered research to establish the reason behind. The research found out that, the churches are associated with four main social functions as indicated in the first paragraph of this article (Moon 23).
To begin with, the Korean immigrant church in the United States provided an avenue of fellowshipping and friendship links among the Korean immigrants by putting in place programs for Koreans to interact socially with other members of their country. Especially the service which was on Sunday, it was one of the key programs among many which offered opportunities for the Koreans to meet (Min & Min 65). Organizations have been put in place in the church, which operates throughout the week, and the big churches have classes for different groups in place. The classes of the different categories of people normally meet after every two weeks or once in a month. The Koreans meetings, which are associated with the church, include dinner parties and this becomes a key social opportunity for the immigrants. These social gatherings are simply meant for the immigrants to discuss their progress in the United States (Min & Min 69).
Another social activity, which the Korean immigrant churches offer, is the sport events and other co curricular activities besides picnics on religious places and the Korean vacations in traditional setting. These are purposely organized to enable youths to interact. At the same time, it enables members to socialize and share their minds with others, which are not necessarily spiritual matters. The different experiences shared during the picnics bring the Korean together and help them in identifying each other as brothers and sisters (Min & Min 78). In the same breath, those who are born in the United States and have never had the opportunity to be in their country get the opportunity through such tours, which target mostly Korea. The events, which are based on sports, help members to exercise their bodies for physical fitness. On the same note, the church can also get an opportunity to discover talents which members have and nurture them. Similarly, the organizing of such events gives room for other activities to be brought on the surface by the members which they feel are going to help them in one way or another (Min & Min 96).
In yet another social function that the immigrant Korean church serves is the maintenance of the Korean culture. One of the key areas about this is the Korean language. The Koreans feel satisfied and not wasted spiritually when they worship in the church using their native language right from home. They do not believe in discarding their language. For this reason, they deem it right to have their own churches even in foreign countries (Min & Min 112). This is the same case in the United States. In all matters in the Korean churches in the United States, everything is transacted using Korean. This is also the same case in the administrative matters. Through churches, the Koreans have managed to retain their culture of their native language in the United States unlike other immigrants like the Chinese and the Filipino. This way, even the Korean children who have been born in the United States and have not set foot in their mother country learn how to communicate in Koran right in the churches (Moon 93).
Another cultural function that the Korean immigrant churches have managed to maintain in the United States is the Korean traditional way of singing and dancing. All the songs, which are sung in the Korean immigrant churches in the United States, are Korean. The dancing style that accompanies the singing is the traditional one from Korea (Min & Min 245). This has ensured that, children born in the United States get an opportunity to learn what dancing is like in their mother country. Studies indicate that, of all the immigrants who are in the United States, Koreans are probably the most keen when it comes to maintaining their culture. The church has indeed offered them an opportunity to do that and they have taken the benefit of that in the United States. Many Americans have always desired the way Koreans do it yet this has been met with sharp criticism from others who deduce that they should have stayed in their country instead of them coming in the United States.
On the same note, the church has taken the opportunity to expose the Korean immigrant teenagers in the United States to their culture. This has been possible through organizing vacations, which entails the Korean traditions among other events, which are purely Korean. During these vacations, the youth normally are strictly supposed to wear Korean dresses, eat Korean food, and engage in some of the favorite games, which are purely Korean (Kwon, et al. 123). In this case, the youths stay in the united states but there are no exception with those ones back at home in Korea, the difference is only that they reside in the United States. Games are purely traditional ones, which enable the Koreans to preserve their culture to the latter. This is yet another proves that the Korean immigrant churches in the United States serves as a social function and indeed a big benefit to the Koreans. The celebrations, which come in handy with these holidays, further develop the Korean culture.
In another way, that the Korean immigrant churches offer a social function is through guiding and counseling of the Korean teenagers who are immigrants in the United States. The church normally targets such sensitive issues as issues regarding immigration. The youths are reminded on what is expected of them as immigrants and what the limits are. This enables them to stay in the United States without causing any trouble (Kwon, et al. 133). Studies indicate that, of all the immigrants in the United States, Koreas are among the well behaved. Most teenagers from other countries have no one to advise them on issues related to immigration and therefore find themselves rubbing shoulders with United States authority. On the same note, the church has taken upon itself to advise the Korean youths on issues regarding employment. This has in return enabled the Korean youths to be very keen selecting which jobs to take once they are through with school. The guiding ad counseling on careers is equally important to them because they end up taking careers, which are marketable in the United States.
Still on the social function of the Korean immigrant churches in the United States, the church has taken the opportunity to establish some community schools for the Korean fraternity as well as the programs for those who are old. These programs are very useful in ensuring the aged also get knowledge in a formal and informal way (Kwon, et al. 143). This clearly indicates that the church has accommodated all the Koreans in their operations and they are indeed living as one big family in the United States. The Korean community schools in the United States offer the Korean syllabus as well as international ones thus exposing their students to a wide variety of knowledge. Through these schools, some of the co curricular activities are related to the traditions of the Koreans. This has really helped in maintaining their culture. So as to encourage many Koreans who are immigrants in the United States to enroll in these institutions, the management has deemed it wise to subsidize the fees exclusively on the Korean students. This has enabled them to get many of them who are indeed their target (Moon 123).
Studies carried out in the United States about the Korean immigrant churches indicate that, the church was indeed a vital segment of social life for immigrants and mostly Koreans. A good percentage of almost 75% were very comfortable with social activities, which were mainly held in churches and therefore took part in them with all their heart and mind. The mostly liked events are sport activities and the holidays with the large number of participants being the teenagers who are in colleges and those who are still single and are looking for partners to marry (Kwon, et al. 146). Comparing the Korean immigration churches with other churches in the United States, the Korean churches are very unique because of the activities in which they involve themselves in. when the church volunteered in offering such events which were in most cases found only in schools and work place, people took them with a lot seriousness and grabbed the opportunity to benefit themselves. This has turned out to be the place of interaction for many Koreans in the United States. The other services carried out between churches were once in a year and were limited to members of a certain denomination. The Korean church for the immigrants in the United States has gone out of its way to offer something unique, which comes often. The people in return have appreciated these efforts by taking part in them (Kwon, et al. 153).
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The end result of the research done indicated that, Korean immigrant churches were not coming up with connections with other existing Christians from other countries. They just want to be unique in their own way. There is very little or no interaction of the Korean immigrant churches with others in the United States. They instead have opted to remain in touch with the centrally placed church back in their motherland. This has helped in ensuring they remain on the right track and that the norms of the church are maintained. Studies carried out indicate that, the Korean churches operate on their own and rarely seek support from other immigrant churches. If this argument is anything to go by, it is clear that Koreans have indeed created another country of Koreans in the United States, which is comprised of Christians (Kwon, et al. 158).
Looking closely at the role of women in the Korean church, studies indicate that although they are very active, their support socially is not well represented. This might probably be emanating from the fact that, not many of them are taking part in the leadership of the church. Even in developments which affects women, men are dominating in leadership positions of the same probably making many of them not to take part in social activities (Kwon, et al. 163).
Another social function of the Korean immigrant church in the United States is to give emotional support and to extend a helping hand to the members who are suffering from stress due to exposure to their new environment in the United States. On the same note, those who have problems in their relationships ranging from dating to marriage relationships get guiding and how to solve such problems in the church (Moon 218). The hectic life in the United States that immigrants have to put up with is sorted out in the church. This helps them to feel comfortable and enjoy life in the United States having it in mind that, somebody is taking care of them. Regardless of sex and age, all Koreans are encouraged to join the ethnic churches. In other words, people are drawn in the churches not only to make friends but also to meet with other people who are not necessarily close family members. In other words, they miss the both the informal and formal aspects of the Korean community back at their motherland. This can be interpreted to mean that is why many Koreans attend the ethnic churches regardless of their Americanization.
Due to some issues, the development of Korean church in the United States has been faced by some challenges. This has been there since 1902. The two main factors are indeed based on sociological point of view. The immigration policies and the reality that Koreans want to be close to other Koreans have elicited sharp reactions. However, these cannot be looked with a lot of seriousness because similar immigrants' churches have been established regardless of these restrictions (Moon 223).
It must be noted keenly that most of the Korean priests have been bold enough and have equally sacrificed to put in place social systems such as community schools just to ensure that the Korean culture is maintained. On the same note, it has been very difficult to get finances to put up churches and schools besides engaging people to participate in such social activities.
Finally, it is clear that, the ethnic church in the United States has slowly but surely become the focal point of life of Koreans immigrants in the United States unlike other immigrants from other places in the world (Moon 227).