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Korean Culture Shines at Orlando Church

The Orlando Korea Culture Center, an outreach branch of Sunlight Grace Church, hosts an annual K-pop contest attracting hundreds of entrants.

Less than two years after Joshua Jung launched Sunlight Grace Church in 2014, he and the first church members also launched the Orlando Korea Culture Center as a way to reach into the community.

“We thought, what is the thing we have to offer?” Jung explained. “We said, ‘Let’s try teaching language and giving away free Korean food.’” Jung grew up in Korea and immigrated to Florida at age 29.

At first there was little interest in the cultural center, which is housed in the same building as Sunlight Grace Church. But K-pop (Korean pop music) was growing in popularity in the U.S. at the time, and as a result, Americans were becoming intrigued with Korean culture.

In 2016, the center’s volunteer leadership team started an annual cultural festival at the church, offering Korean food, games, and music. In 2017, they created a K-pop contest in which 300 to 400 entrants perform on stage and vie for cash prizes.

The festival now attracts about 3,000 community members each fall, according to Jung. The center also hosts traditional Korean dance classes two evenings a week, which have proven popular among older couples, he said. Every fall and spring, the center offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes in the Korean language, which enroll about 75 people per session. People from all different ethnicities are signing up to learn Korean, Jung said.

Most of these classes and events are led by volunteers—some from the church, some from the community. The center also hires international students from Korea who are studying in Orlando. Many of the students and other community volunteers are not Christians, which the church considers a fantastic witnessing opportunity. Several people have come to faith through working in partnership with the church.

“God is using our culture to share the gospel, and I’m so excited,” said Jung.

Sunlight Grace church services are in Korean and include English translation. The church also has English-speaking and bilingual small groups. Sunday attendance numbers were at about 130 in early 2020 but were affected by the disruption of the COVID pandemic, Jung said. Recently attendance has grown again to about 75 people.

Jung was ordained as a minister in the CRC in 2017. As pastor of an emerging church, his credentials are held by Sunlight Ministries in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

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