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Cho Yong-gi the founder of South Korea largest Church has passed away

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South Korea’s SEOUL (AP) — The Rev. Cho Yong-gi, who founded South Korea’s largest church and was a symbol of the country’s postwar development of Christianity until it was stained by corruption and other scandals, died on Tuesday. He was 85 years old at the time.

Cho, an emeritus pastor at Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, died at a Seoul hospital where he had been treated after collapsing in July 2020 due to a cerebral haemorrhage, according to the church.

In a statement, the church added, “He conveyed the gospel of hope to the Korean people who were in despair after the Korean War.” “He was a key figure in the development of the Korean church, particularly Yoido Full Gospel Church, which is now the world’s largest church.”

In 1958, when South Korea was still striving to reconstruct itself from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War, the late pastor, also known as David Yonggi Cho or Paul Yonggi Cho, began his church in Seoul with five worshippers. Under his guidance, the church grew at a breakneck pace, becoming a symbol of Christianity’s fast spread in what was once a highly Confucian culture.

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According to Guinness World Records, the church had moreover 700,000 members in 1993, making it the world’s largest church congregation, according to the church. Church leaders say the church’s membership has dropped to around 600,000 people, and they can’t say whether it is still the world’s largest.

It is still South Korea’s largest Protestant church. According to church leaders, the church has 400 pastors and evangelists in South Korea and 500 missionaries in other countries.

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Cho and his family have been involved in a number of scandals in recent years, despite their achievements.

In 2017, he was found guilty of breach of trust and causing financial losses to the church, although he was spared prison thanks to a suspended sentence. A paternity suit was brought against one of his sons by a female politician in 2013. His family has also been accused of dominating key positions at the church and other church-related organizations for a long time.

Cho stepped down as the church’s head pastor in 2008, and a non-family member took his place in an “unprecedented, democratic” power transition, according to the church. Many church founders in South Korea pass on their leadership roles to their children.

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The rapid growth of Cho’s church, according to Lee Hunjoo, secretary-general of the Christian Alliance For Church Reform, a Seoul-based NGO, prompted other churches in South Korea to push too hard to grow their own congregations.

Lee stated, “It is true that the Rev. Cho did a significant effort for Korean churches.” “However, Cho’s Yoido Full Gospel Church was the forerunner of megachurches in South Korea.”

According to a government census from 2015, Protestantism was South Korea’s most popular religion, followed by Buddhism and Catholicism. At the time, there were approximately 9.7 million Protestants in the Netherlands, representing roughly 20% of the country’s 49 million people.

Cho leaves three Sons behind. According to the church, his funeral is slated for Saturday, and mourners will begin arriving on Wednesday.

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