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Congregants Rally, Allege “Racial Bullying” of Korean American Pastors

Published on Monday, May 24, 2021 | 6:51 am

Several Korean American pastors and dozens of supporters rallied Friday outside the Pasadena offices of the California-Pacific Conference of The  United Methodist Church to protest what they described as the “racial bullying” of the pastors by Bishop Grant Hagiya, the resident United Methodist bishop for Los Angeles.

The controversy erupted after Bishop Hagiya abruptly removed three Korean pastors from their local churches, according to the Wesleyan Covenant Association.

The congregations are resisting Hagiya’s actions, the WCA reported.

The  United Methodist Church has recently been roiled by controversy over the ordination of LGBTQ+ clergy and whether to accept same-sex marriage.

In March, conservative leaders within the church announced they would form a new denomination, the Global Methodist Church, with a doctrine that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

According to First United Methodist of Pasadena pastor Rev. Sandra K. Olewine, the removed Korean American pastors and some of their congregants feel that the pastors’ removals may have been related to “theological difference.”

Olewine pointed out “there’s a lot of call for division in our denomination” over the LGBTQ+ issue.

The protestors, however, focused exclusively on their allegation of racism against the Bishop and did not refer to the LGBTQ+ issue.

“The racial animus the Bishop demonstrates towards the Koreans is completely contrary to the values of the Gospel and unworthy of a leader of the church,”  said Deborah Kwak, a member of Bell Memorial UMC, in Rowland Heights. 

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