Ever wondered what goes on behind the tiny green doors of the Korean Methodist Church & Institute on 115th? We sent our very own Tuesday daily editor Briana Bursten to check things out.
The Korean Methodist Church on 115th has been the subject of many photographs that I have taken during my inebriated walks around MoHi late at night. When Bwog offered me the chance to step inside the church and observe a Sunday morning service, I knew that it was an offer that I could not, in anyway, refuse. Still feelin a bit groovy from my Saturday night endeavors, I rolled out of bed and put on a casual outfit of jeans, sneakers, and a sweater. With barely open eyes, I began my trek down Broadway, first winding down 113th and 114th before figuring out that my beloved holy space was located just one block south of my humble abode.
I was greeted at the door by a woman who looked both shocked and frightened to see me (it’s okay, because people look at me like that
too often). She was dressed very formally, and I quickly became aware that my ensemble of Nikes and smeared eye makeup was probably not the best look for prayer. The woman then proceeded to ask me if I spoke Korean, to which I replied no. She looked at me again with a combination of fear and confusion, and then said something along the lines of “you’re not going to understand ANYTHING.” She thought she could get rid of me, but I was too committed to the game… nothing could deter me from this #blessed experience.
I sat in the last row of the relatively small chapel on a folding chair next to a very nice woman who offered to translate the Korean scripture into English for me. 22 Jump Street led me to believe that I would be greeted by a Korean Jesus at the front-center of the room, but a simple wooden cross framed by fake sunflowers did the job instead. The interior of the church was modest, with a few pews and burgundy carpeting. The average age of the crowd was probably 55, and everyone was wearing dope headgear.
The woman who greeted me at the door was absolutely correct in her prophecy, as I really did not understand ANYTHING that was going on. The kind woman who offered to translate for me handed me her phone, which was opened up to an app called “Bible.” She told me to read verses 1-34 or something like that, so I obliged. She then asked me if I was Christian, and I told her that I am currently “religiously confused.” This response was met with some genuine confusion on her part, which eventually concluded in her telling me that I was welcome at the Korean church anytime (which is just the response I was hoping for, so shoutout to her).
The reading of the scripture was broken up by the singing of psalms. A large chorus with members occupying the first three pews was accompanied by a pianist and a violinist. The music was good… like scarily good. Everyone sounded like a professional opera singer!! I wondered how this random little church had recruited such musical all-stars, so I asked the woman next to me. She told me that half of the singers study at “the music school” (don’t really know what was meant by this ambiguity… perhaps I’m dealing with some Illuminati stuff) and they practice frequently. The music was probably my favorite part of the service, just because it was so unexpected (but also quite pleasing).
I dipped out after the sermon, and I found myself thinking a lot about Bible apps and Korean churches and religion and the Illuminati during my one-block-long-walk back. My trip to the Korean Methodist Church & Institute was legendary, and now when I find myself inebriated and walking down 115th, I’ll know what truly goes down behind those mint-green doors.
Not your average Korean Church via Shutterstock