New Light for Christ in Lawton
By Holly McCray
Seung Sook picked up a craft project, a small handprint on red paper. Tracing their fingers, the children were learning to pray, explained the children’s Sunday School director at Lawton New Light United Methodist Church. Sook was lighting the way for young disciples.
New Light Church is aptly named. The designation not only fits Christian imagery, but also describes design features of the brand-new building in southwest Lawton.
On Oct. 24, brilliant sunlight streamed through the windows; the church faces south. High ceilings and white walls extended the sensations of newness and openness. Inside the 250-seat sanctuary, the chancel furnishings are translucent, including the Communion table. It is etched with the iconic Last Supper scene. The focal point is a large cross of solid oak, made by church member Gary Williams.
The $2 million church, at 5901 S.W. Lee Blvd., was consecrated May 2.
But this building resulted from an idea sown decades ago in the Lawton District: the Kingdom Builders program. District Superintendent Chuck Horton said money donations have grown, over time, for planting a new church. Eventually, 6 acres in Lawton were purchased.
Meanwhile, a primarily Korean-language congregation was worshipping in shared space at Lawton-Wesley UMC. And growing.
God’s harvest season arrived.
Pastor Kiyoung Jeong saw God’s hand at work when the congregation of 70 to 90 people made "quite a leap of faith" to raise $2 million for a building. And the district provided a gift of the land it had been holding.
"Way back when, they could not know there would be a Korean church" on that land, Rev. Horton said. "This is a good argument about districts planning in advance for what needs to happen in the future."
The May consecration drew a multi-cultural crowd of 300 and the offering totaled $30,000—again affirming God’s presence for Rev. Jeong.
New Light has a vision "that’s going to carry them a long way into the future," Horton said. "They are always one of the first churches in the district to pay their Apportionment 100 percent. In their Strategic Plan, they decided to become multi-cultural and began working on that.
"They have a big vision of winning people to Christ regardless of ethnicity. They are a real Kingdom church."
Jeong said up to 20 people meet for early-morning prayer at the church on Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Numerous small groups are patterned in the Wesley class-meeting style.
Once a month, a contemporary worship replaces the traditional one. The Korean-language service includes English translation.
This is the congregation’s 25th year in Lawton; Jeong is its fifth pastor. His Methodist heritage dates back to his grandfather, and a brother also is a pastor.
Jeong explained his calling simply: "My parents always said I was going to become a pastor. So I did."
He and his wife, Sunny, are from South Korea. He graduated from Perkins seminary in Dallas. He also became an Army chaplain. Scheduled for deployment to Iraq, he instead was assigned to Fort Sill. Thus the couple became connected to the Lawton ministry.