Father of Methodism in Korea: Drew alumnus returns to campus

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by Aliyah Kiesler

As many Drew students have noticed, there is a new monument that sits in between the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and Seminary Hall. The bust is of the 1885 Drew Theological School school student Henry Gerhard Appenzeller, who introduced Methodism to South Korea. The Chungdong First Methodist Church, which Appenzeller founded, gifted the bust to Drew. The ceremony consisted of music, dance, and prayer. It began inside the Craig Chapel and ended outside near the statue.

Appenzeller grew up in Pennsylvania and owes his religious background to his mother, as she took his family to church every Sunday. He spoke German and English growing up, but mostly the former. He joined the Methodist Episcopal Church when he was twenty-one-years old, which lead to his becoming a preacher. He then attended Drew University as a theological student. During his time as a Drewid, Appenzeller went to Korea as part of his program of study to be a Methodist missionary. He travelled to Korea as a missionary for Methodism, introduce Christian readings, and to promote ideas of democracy. During his time in Korea, Appenzeller translated the New Testament into Korea and founded a school for boys in 1887.

“Appenzeller was a visionary and a passionate believer in the truth that the gospel of Christ could literally transform,” said Javier Viera, Dean of the Theological School. “He was also a man who was open to being transformed. For we know from his own writings that while he may have gone to Korea in the hopes of converting a nation, he himself was also converted by the hospitality, the faithfulness and the love of the people of Korea.”

The ceremony unveiling the bust concluded with attendees posing for pictures with Appenzeller’s statue. This bust symbolizes the link between South Korea and Drew’s Theological School. One in five of the theological students are from Korea. Appenzeller played a major role in fostering a connection between Drew and Korea. President MaryAnn Baenninger said, “The stories of the University, the Chungdung First Methodist Church, and Korea are deeply intertwined. Your voyage here today marks one more gold strand that weaves your homeland with ours and that weaves Chungdong church with the campus of Drew.”

If you would like to know more about Henry Appenzeller and about his legacy, please visit the bust which has a short summary about his life story, or talk to the Drew University Methodist community

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