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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: June 2014

Chapter 7 - Asia, Australia and the Pacific


A Seoul megachurch

My first of three visits to the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, the largest Christian congregation in the world, was in May 1998. This bustling congregation of some 700,000 members in the 1990s defies superlatives. I stood outside the building half an hour before the third service of the day at 11.00 a.m. Ushers in cream jackets linked arms together to prevent thousands of waiting people from going up the steps into the main sanctuary. All are dressed in their Sunday best. If they were not in early they would have to sit in one of the overflow chapels and watch the service on a large video screen. But first, the 25,000 worshippers who had attended the 9.00 a.m. service had to get out. Eventually the outgoing throng subsided and the ushers let the incoming crowds in. Thousands of people armed with Bibles and hymnbooks pressed on up the stairs, and after finishing my camcorder recording my Korean host and I joined them. The transition was carried out smoothly and quickly with usual East Asian efficiency.

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