Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel welcomes South Korean sailors

South Korean sailors sing hymns with members of Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel. Photo courtesy of Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel

Brandon Bosworth

Contributing Writer

Sailors from around the Pacific converged on Pearl Harbor during the recently completed RIMPAC exercises. For the chaplains and congregation of Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel, that meant services became a bit more cosmopolitan as new parishioners from other nations came to worship during their time in Hawaii.

South Korean sailors were particularly enthusiastic about worshiping at the chapel and joining in on chapel activities. “The moment their ships pulled in, the sailors immediately came and expressed interest in participating in our services,” said Navy Lt. Richard Tiff, Chaplain Corps. “They joined in for both our Sunday services and our midweek vertical services.”

Even the language barrier didn’t keep Korean sailors from taking part in Bible study sessions. “They weren’t entirely comfortable at first, but there was still lots of interaction between the Koreans and our regular congregations,” said Tiff.

Things were a bit easier when it came time to singing hymns. “They sing many of the same hymns in South Korean churches,” said Tiff. “The language is different, but the music is the same.”

Unlike most East Asian nations, the population of South Korea is about 25 to 30 percent Christian. Tiff noticed some interesting things in the Korean approach to Christianity. “For one, they are fervently into prayer. It isn’t unusual for Korean Christians to spend all night praying,” he said. “They also really see themselves as missionaries.”

Members of the chapel were impressed not only by the enthusiasm of the Korean visitors, but by their generosity as well. The Korean sailors regularly brought in cookies, candies and other food items to share with the congregation. Two of the chaplains were treated to a tour of a South Korean ship.

Sunday was the last service at Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel attended by visiting South Korean sailors before their ships disembarked.

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Category: Life & Leisure