President Barnes recently made a seven-day visit to Seoul, South Korea, to strengthen historic ties with Korean Presbyterian churches, schools, and PTS alumni/ae. “Princeton Seminary has benefited greatly from its relationships with Korean Presbyterians,” explains Barnes. “We share a long, rich history of friendship and collaboration. My goal for this trip was to affirm and celebrate these bonds and find ways to deepen them.”  

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President Barnes, members of his executive leadership team, and PTS trustees Dr. Sang Chang (’77 PhD) and Elder Jin Soo Kim spent two days engaging the leaders of Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) and Yonsei University. Both schools have their roots in the work of Presbyterian missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They are known for their commitment to academic excellence and equipping leaders for Christian ministry. A number of PTS alumni/ae teach on the faculty and serve in administrative leadership roles at each school. The exciting conversations with PUTS and Yonsei focused on developing pilot projects with the schools that can serve as a foundation for ongoing collaborative relationships.

On Sunday, June 1, President Barnes preached in two services at Youngnak Presbyterian Church, founded by distinguished PTS alumnus Kyung Chik Han (’29), who was a recipient of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1992. He was one of the most influential and significant Christian leaders in Korea in the 20th century, and his legacy is cherished by Princeton Seminary. President Barnes and his leadership team met with the elders of Youngnak Church and received a tour of the museum dedicated to the work and ministry of the Reverend Kyung Chik Han.

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On Sunday evening, President Barnes offered words of condolence to the Korean people at a National Day of Prayer service dedicated to remembering the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster. The service was hosted by Myungsung Presbyterian Church, the largest Presbyterian church in the world with 152,000 members. President Barnes addressed 25,000 attendees on the Myungsung campus, including President Geun Hye Park. The service was televised live in Korea and President Barnes’s words of comfort and hope received wide coverage in the Korean press. The next day, President Barnes and his delegation were invited to a lunch meeting with the senior pastor of Myungsung Church, the Reverend Sam Whan Kim, and his family.

The Seminary’s Korean Alumni/ae Association hosted President Barnes and his team for a dinner that was attended by more than twenty alums. Dr. Barnes shared his vision for Princeton Seminary with the group and thanked the alums for their leadership and ministry in Korea and around the world. The Reverend Dr. Sun Hee Kwak (’65 ThM), president of the Alumni/ae Association, hosted the dinner. The Reverend Dr. Young Shin Kim (’94), the newly-elected secretary of the Alumni/ae Association, presided over the program. 

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PTS trustees Chang and Kim accompanied President Barnes for many of the meetings and events. Their support, assistance, and encouragement were a key element of the success of the trip.