Controversial Church sets another record of graduate theologians

A sea of humanity: 108,084 theology graduates with their seniors and teachers at the grand graduation ceremony held in South Korea (Photo Supplied)

108,084 students get their Certificates at Daegu, South Korea

Supplied Content (Edited)
Seoul, December 23, 2023

The Shincheonji Church of Jesus has held a record graduation ceremony in Seoul recently.

100,000 people from all over the world graduated from the theological course this year, perhaps prompting pastors and Christian believers to reassess their opinions about the controversial Church, New Heaven New Earth.

The Ceremony was held on November 12 at Daegu Stadium, Daegu, South Korea to celebrate the 2023 graduation from the Zion Christian Mission Centre (ZCMC), a theology school run by the Christian denomination New Heaven and New Earth Church of Jesus.

This major religious event celebrated those from all around the world who have completed the ZCMC course within the year.

Shincheonji Church of Jesus Chairman Lee Man-hee addressing the graduates at the 2023 Ceremony (Photo Supplied)

Rising number of theologians

Following the graduation of 103,764 people in 2019 and 106,186 people in 2022, this year saw 108,084 graduates. The number of current and former pastors among the graduates was 6724, an increase of more than ten times from the 100,000-graduation ceremony last year. Sixty-one of these graduates were from New Zealand, and 20 of these travelled to Korea to take part in the graduation in person.

New Heaven and New Earth Church of Jesus has its headquarters in Gwacheon, South Korea and is led by the head pastor, also known as the Chairman of the Church, Man Hee Lee. The Church has over 100 branches throughout the world. Its current membership spans around 300,000 members (not including recent graduates), with numbers rapidly increasing each year. The Church (also referred to by its Korean name, Shincheonji) which has widely been labelled a ‘cult,’ now has pastors and Christians in New Zealand and around the globe beginning to re-assess this label.

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New Zealand graduate testimonies

‘I was sceptical of the Zion Christian Mission Centre course at first,’ Taki Kaloni, one of 61 New Zealanders graduating from the Zion Christian Mission Centre in 2023, said.

‘‘I thought that they were a cult; I had read many unsettling things online too. However, I still felt curious about why so many thousands of people over consecutive years were excited about their faith after learning from this organization. They all looked so bright and alive, and I wanted that. The result of so many people coming to New Heaven and New Earth Church each year is not on a small scale, that had to mean something,” he said.

“They were really open with me from the start, and we were encouraged to check what we were learning for ourselves by reading from our own Bibles and to ask lots of questions. I felt like these people from the ZCMC knew the Bible so well that many questions were able to be answered with wisdom from the scriptures. They supported me so much throughout the course and I was never asked to pay a cent,” he added,

Jade, an Instructor from the Zion Christian Mission Centre said: ‘The Chairman always emphasises that the Bible should be the standard of faith that any Christian believer or pastor follows. It is sad and unfair how the Chairman and New Heaven and New Earth Church have been portrayed in the past,” he said.

Hunter Choudhary a New Zealand youth graduate said, “I have been able to connect better now with so many people because these teachings have given me confidence. I am also now more mindful of the relationships I have with people, especially my family whom I love very much. I want to love and serve others more.”

The Will of God

In his address, Chairman Lee said that God will be watching the gathering and hence people must make a good world according to His Will.

“The book of Revelation is not long, but it contains tremendous content about the coming of God’s Kingdom. Believing in this and telling many people about it is God’s Will. The fact that God and Heaven come to this earth and become one means that it becomes a Holy World ruled by God. Let us make a good world according to God’s Will,” he said.

Spectacular Performances and speeches

The graduation ceremony also had spectacular performances including traditional Korean drum dances and a 15-minute card-flipping performance where spectators could see the story of Revelation unfolding. More than 10,000 people participated in this event, receiving enthusiastic cheers and applause. This card section, which condensed the meaning of the entire chapters of Revelation uniquely expressed the prophecy of the Book of Revelation.

The graduation certificate presentation, turning of the tassel, and awarding of certificates were followed by a lot of attention to the graduation impression statement announced by graduate Jung Hyun-mo.

Jung, who is currently the Vice President of Education at IUC Graduate School in Korea, said, “I was invited as a guest to the 100,000-graduation ceremony of class 113 last year. I was curious about the secret of gathering 100,000 people every year despite severe persecution, and I was particularly curious about how the young people who filled the stadium were so energetic and lively. I started taking courses at the Zion Christian Mission Center because I was told that the secret was the word.”

A Shincheonji Church of Jesus official said, “As it is a large-scale event, we focused on safety and order. We also put a lot of effort into building a medical system, such as emergency rescue training and medical staff placement, to prepare for temperature drops and any emergencies.”

Registrations have already opened for classes running into next year, accessible via link www.newzealand.shincheonji.org/register.

The classes are free of cost and run between six and eight months.

About New Heaven New Earth

New Heaven and New Earth Church was established in 1984 in Seoul, South Korea and has since grown exponentially with branch Churches in more than 120 countries internationally and a congregation of more than 400,000 members worldwide.

New Heaven New Earth Church was opened in New Zealand in 2015 and continues to grow in the number of congregation members, with substantial outreach now into the Pacific regions as well.

About Zion Christian Mission Centre

The Zion Christian Mission Centre is New Heaven New Earth Churches theological school. The Bible course is divided into three modules and takes six to eight months to complete. It is free and open to anybody who wishes to register and study the Bible.

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