21. Korean War Memorial: The Methodist Connection
A Korean War memorial may strike some people as a rather strange stop on a tour of Philadelphia Methodism. But it is important to remember that the Methodist movement in Korea began due to the missionary efforts of Pennyslvanians Henry and Ella Appenzeller in 1885. As a young man Henry Appenzeller was a preacher at what is now First United Methodist Church of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. That church is still visited by Korean Methodists today to celebrate the memory of Henry Appenzeller and the beginning of the Methodist movement in their country. Methodist and other Christians in Korea were key leaders opposing Japanese colonialism between 1905 and 1945. Pyongyang, Korea (now located in North Korea) was the site of one of the most dramatic revivals of the early 20th century. Sometimes called the “Korean Pentecost,” the revival of 1907 in Pyongyang involved many Methodists. Korean Methodism now has well over a million members. The largest Methodist church in the world is located in that country.
The connection between Methodism and this Korean War Memorial is evident in other ways as well. Throughout the Korean War in the early 1950s Methodist missionaries and Methodist Korean pastors worked together to help the Korean people suffering from the ravages of war. Korea was a major focus of the work of the Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief in the 1950s – both during and in the immediate aftermath of the war. Food, clothing, and housing were provided through the Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief in partnership with Korean Methodist leadership. From 1953 to 1957 no other country received more support than Korea did from American Methodists through the Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief.