By Cassie King
In mid-September, Fishers United Methodist Church expanded its outreach abilities with a weekly Korean-language service led by Pastor Gi-Chae Lee for the local Korean community.
Lee is pastor of the First Korean United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. He and Fishers UMC’s Senior Pastor Mark Ellcessor met through Indiana Conference Superintendent Saneta Maiko.
“We began a conversation about him (Lee) planting a Korea- language church using the facilities of Fishers United Methodist Church,” Ellcessor said. “This request fit nicely with the vision for Fishers UMC to make disciples who make disciples; develop leaders who develop leaders; and to plant churches that plant churches.”
Lee was born and raised in South Korea and moved to the United States to earn his doctorate in political science.
“I felt called to fulfill the promise I had made to God when I was young — to devote my life to ministry,” Lee said.
He then earned his Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He was pastor of the Korean United Methodist Church in Bloomington for seven years before serving 12 years at the First Korean UMC in Indianapolis.
“I felt drawn to start this new Korean ministry in Fishers because of the large population of young Korean families residing here,” Lee said.
Carmel and Fishers have the largest Korean population in the greater Indianapolis area, with approximately 1,116 individuals, according to the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.
“There are 10 Korean churches in and around Indy, and about 30 percent of the Korean population may attend Korean churches, while some of them attend American churches,” Lee said.
He said he hopes the new ministry will engage members of the Korean Christian community who have felt disconnected since the pandemic, as well as young Korean families.
“The majority of young Korean families live in Fishers and Carmel because they want to raise their children in an environment with good schools,” Lee said. “I wanted to reach them with the Gospel of Christ Jesus.”
Lee’s son translates his sermons into English for English-speaking congregants, and Lee conducts the weekly service in Korean.
“I am thankful to Fishers UMC for welcoming us into their space,” Lee said. “I hope we can be a welcoming place for Koreans of all ages to explore their faith journey, and we welcome all interested in exploring faith, regardless of background.”
The Korean ministry meets at 2 p.m. each Sunday at the Fishers United Methodist Church, 9691 E. 116th St.