by Cheon Young Cheol

Rev Dr Jooseop Keum has now assumed office as the 6th General Secretary of Council for World Mission, on 1 July 2021, following his appointment at a Special Members’ Meeting held on 31 March 2021.

Dr Keum, an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, and formerly the Distinguished Professor of World Christianity at the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary and Director of the Korea Institute for Future Ecumenism, was inducted into office, formally taking over the leadership mantle from Rev Dr Collin Cowan at a moving inauguration service held online on 5 July 2021. The inauguration service, attended by a wider cross-section of the CWM family – directors, member churches, ecumenical colleagues and staff, was a time of worship to signal the official start of Dr Keum’s ministry.  During the service, there was a sending and receiving ceremony presided over by the Moderator and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, Rev Dr Jun Ho Shin and Rev Dr Changbae Byun, respectively, and CWM’s Moderator, Rev Lydia Neshangwe.

Dr Keum takes the helm of CWM at a Kairos moment for mission engagement in the wake of an unprecedented shake-up in the global missional landscape.  In his greetings, Rev Dr Jun Ho Shin, remarked that the landscape of Christianity is rapidly changing and the global ecumenical movement is facing difficulties. He implored CWM to continue to contribute to the world mission, to pay particular attention to the ecumenical movement and to take up leadership in the transformative discipleship for world Christianity, especially at such a time as this. The Moderator pledged the support of the Korean churches to Dr Keum as he leads CWM to rise to the challenge.

In his sending remarks, Rev Dr Changbae Byun observed that Covid-19 had caused a great crisis to the global community; and that it was of urgent necessity for global ecumenical movement and mission agencies to approach the ministries of justice, peace and life with a fresh perspective for the changing context. He expressed confidence that Dr Keum would provide the leadership required of CWM for such a time as this, the basis on which he delightfully released Rev Dr Keum from and on behalf of the PCK to CWM.

In receiving Dr Keum, on behalf of Council for World Mission, the Moderator, Rev Lydia Neshangwe said,

We receive Jooseop with gratitude, with love and with joy. We promise to take care of him – we will pray for him, we will praise him so that his work becomes energised, we will persevere together with him to achieve the vision of the work that is before him.

Rev Neshangwe received Dr Keum as a gift and a blessing to the organisation; affirmed the gifts that he brings; and promised that CWM would encourage him to grow and enhance the various partnerships of CWM, “all to the glory of God who has given him to us”.

“I am delighted to pass the baton to my esteemed brother, friend and colleague, Dr Jooseop Keum, said the outgoing General Secretary”, Rev Dr Collin Cowan, as he officially handed over leadership to the new General Secretary.  Addressing Dr Keum, he added, “as I pass the baton to you, I would like to say that you are called for such a time as this and you already know that it is ‘not by might nor by power, but by God’s spirit’ that you will be able to take charge of this organisation and lead it with the kind of prophetic vision that is rooted in the very belly of your passion and commitment.”   As a symbolic gesture of passing the baton, Rev Cowan placed the Bible, that he had kept and used in the office while he was General Secretary, on the desk of the General Secretary, and prayed that Dr Keum, would find similar comfort and inspiration that he found whenever he needed to turn to the God who called him to this ministry.

In his inauguration speech, Dr Keum acknowledged the great confidence placed on him by member churches in their unanimous decision to appoint him to lead CWM in the transforming mission of the triune God, as well as his profound gratitude to, the PCK for sending him to this post. He also thanked his colleagues and ecumenical friends for their enormous support, with special thanks to Rev Dr Ioan Sauca, Acting General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) who brought greetings on behalf of the WCC; Rev Dr Celestine Kiki, General Secretary of Communauté Evangélique d’Action (CEVAA), who brought greetings on behalf of CEVAA and the United Evangelical Mission (UEM); and Rev Dr Christopher Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), who brought greetings on behalf of WCRC.  Addressing his predecessor, Dr Keum said, “I will strive to lead CWM as a life flouring community to building upon the excellent legacies of your remarkable leadership and tireless commitment to the global missional movement.”

Dr Keum recounted his journey within the CWM, highlighting the missional perspective and praxis, in which he was formed, developed and matured since his youth. Having been inspired by, journeyed with, and contributed to the missionary movement for the last three decades, including opportunities to serve as the Executive Secretary for Mission Programme from 2003 to 2007, and sent to serve as the Director of Commission on World Mission and Evangelism at the WCC, thereafter, he said he was honoured to be called back to his ‘home’ to respond to this call based on his faith in the missionary God.

I will try my best to pay back the debt of love owed to CWM by re-envisioning and rejuvenating prophetic mission thinking and action in this pandemic-stricken world, where the survival of the fittest is the only rule that is functional at the moment. We believe that the power of love can transform the world of hatred and injustice. It is time to transform ourselves first in order to transform the world.

Arguing that we may be trying to respond to the challenges of the new normal with the structures and methodologies of the old normal, Dr Keum said, “I believe that it is time for us to bring radical insights and innovation to God’s mission in today’s context of Covid-19 pandemic, if we would be relevant and effective.”

The Board of Directors and the entire CWM family looks forward to working with the Rev Dr Jooseop Keum as its General Secretary. Rev Keum is uniquely equipped and ready to lead this extraordinary mission organisation, working at the cutting edge of modern mission, especially in light of the CWM 2020-2029 Strategy Framework the roadmap for the prophetic journey to be pursued.


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