Pastor Abraham Park's life and ministry
Pyungkang Cheil Church, founded by Pastor Park, has grown to become one of the largest churches in the world. It has over 70,000 church members in over 300 churches established around the world. In addition, Pastor Park has published nine books that explain God's redemptive history throughout the Bible and four books on the modern history of Korea that were officially adopted as a required reading by soldiers in the Ministry of National Defense. Pastor Park was called to heaven on December 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm.
Pastor Abraham Park was born in Sariwon, Hwanghae Province in 1928. After the liberation from Japan, he could not tolerate the repression of Christians by the Communist Party and migrated to southern Korea. In 1948, he joined the national defense guard and participated in the Korean War. He became a minister, giving hope to the people who had suffered from the oppressive rule of Japanese colonial life and the Korean War.
In 1958, he began his ministry as an assistant evangelist at Dongmaasan Methodist Church in Korea. He later became a Presbyteri an, starting a church congregation from his house in the early 1960s. From those humble beginnings, he and his church members built a church for the first time in 1969. Located in Seoul, the church was named "Zion Mountain Handol (meaning 'one stone') Church." The name of the church held a symbolic meaning, reflecting the state of the church at the time. Keeping with this theme, as the congregation began to grow and undergo great change, so did the name. In November 1971 the name changed to "Ilseok Church," meaning "One Stone Church." In July 1977 the church was renamed "Daesung Church," meaning "Big Voice Church." In November 1991 a new church site was purchased, a 46-acre plot of land in southern Seoul. This became Pyungkang Cheil Church, the current location of the church, which has continued to grow in size alongside Pastor Park's growing congregation.
New ministry paradigm centered on the Word of God
Pastor Park's knowledge and understanding of faith that guided his ministry was not acquired through theological training, but a training common around the time of the first generation church - he read the Bible. Uncommon, however, was the intensity, deliberation, and devotion by which he studied. He read the Bible during the day and prayed at night inside a cave on Mt. Jiri for 3 years and 6 months.
This passion for the Bible translated into his unprecedented ability to charismatically narrate and give meaning to stories from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation. Reading the Bible more than 1,800 times over his lifetime, the pastor emphasized his belief that the Bible was the living Word of God and absolutely error free. He refused to have people and personalities be the focus of the ministry. Instead, his "ministry of the Word" philosophy focused first and foremost on the Word of God. In line with this philosophy, Pastor Park emphasized the importance of the church as the "Body of the Lord," regarding service and devotion to the church as indispensable.
Great pastoral fruit
The seeds of the church were planted based on a faith in the teachings of Jesus and his ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Even in his eighties, while fighting a debilitating illness, Pastor Park still had the determination to focus all his energy on communicating this message, editing and publishing the nine books of the redemption series. The profound and lasting impact the nine books of the redemption series have had on understanding the meaning and significance of God's word in The Bible cannot be understated. The redemption series has been translated into 16 languages and seminars have been held all over the world based on the series. The redemption series is recognized as one of the most influential Christian books, even receiving praise in the Muslim world by Pastor Anwar Fazal.
A common practice of large churches in Korea is to pass ownership of the church, through inheritance, to family members. Pastor Park, however, felt that the church belongs not to one single person, but to God and all those who follow in His footsteps. Because of this philosophy, Pastor Park did not bequeath the church to his sons. In addition, as a sign of respect, he called the pastors with whom he had taught and trained not his associate pastors, but his co-workers. Pastor Park also set an example for churches in Korea by considering all his pastors his successors, spreading responsibility for the future success of the church equally among them and not to one individual. All the churches built by Pyungkang Cheil Church will inherit the accomplishments of Pastor Park's exemplary life. The many believers who have grown up in the church have become the fruit cultivated from Pastor Park's caring tending of those initial seeds. From these fruit come believers who fervently continue the work that Pastor Park started, sharing the passion for God's love and his message of redemption throughout history.
Bachelor of Business Administration from Kookmin University, Korea in February 1973
Master of Divinity from General Seminary, Korea in December 1984
Recognition and Awards
Honorary Doctor of Theology from Faith Theological Seminary, U.S.A, February 1995
Honorary Doctor of Ministry from Lael College and Graduate School, U.S.A, June 1997
Honorary Doctor of Theology from Knox Theological Seminary, U.S.A., October 2012
President of the Korean Presbyterian Church (joint remuneration), September 1992
Peace Service Award from Los Angeles City Council, U.S.A., March 1992
Presidential Prize from Korean President Kim Youngsam, August 1997
Prime Minister Award from Korean Prime Minister Kim Jongpil, December 18, 1998
Presidential Award from Korean President Kim Daejung, December 2001