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"I learned true theology that leads me to heaven, not the study of mankind. I thank God for giving me a chance to live." - Heo Jung-wook, former pastor and Shincheonji graduate
DAEGU, KOREA, November 25, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ -- On November 20, 2022, The Zion Christian Mission Center, a Bible education institution of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, held a class completion ceremony at Daegu Stadium in Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. A total of 106,186 people world-wide graduated on this day, making it now the world's largest theological education institution. Due to safety reasons, the number of people who participated in the graduation ceremony in Daegu Stadium was limited to 80,000. However, it is estimated that 300,000 people in total (online or offline) participated in the ceremony via YouTube live broadcast, translated into nine different languages.
The ceremony was prepared thoroughly to address any safety concerns. Shincheonji Church of Jesus stated, "For preparing this event, safety is paramount. We will create a cooperative network with local governments to ensure all medical, safety, traffic, and other concerns are prioritized. We will operate a control room for monitoring the event with police and fire departments as well as Daegu city safety officials."
Additional measures were taken to ensure safety of participants in crowds. A Shincheonji representative stated: "The church itself allocated a total of 14,000 safety personnel to maintain order inside and outside the venue, and staggered the participants entering and leaving the event venue over a four hour time period to prevent overcrowding. About 180 medical staff and four ambulances are also on standby in case of an accident." Emergency rescue training was conducted for all safety personnel, and all graduates also completed watching emergency rescue videos. "We emphasize that this completion ceremony was especially safety-oriented."
The multi-faceted event began with messages of praise, congratulatory speeches, representative prayers, and commemorative speeches of Shincheonji Church Chairman Man-Hee Lee. The second part included a congratulatory speech by Tan Young-jin, the head of the Zion Christian Mission Center, presentation of graduation certificates, tassel turning, award ceremony, testimony from graduates, and a special performance.
Among the graduates, a total of 522 pastors, including 37 in Korea and 485 overseas, completed the Zion Mission Center program. The proportion of pastor graduates notably increased this year significantly compared to previous Shincheonji graduations. The increase in this pastor participation is closely related to the creation of the online class environment due to COVID-19. One of the representatives of the graduates who gave a speech on the graduation day was one of these pastors.
Heo Jung-wook, who has been a pastor in Korea for a decade and has more than 20 years of ministry work experience stated, "I only learned traditional theology in seminary, but I didn't know much about Revelation. I repent that I was a sinner who added and subtracted from the word of God," he said. "I put down all my possessions and came forward to the truth. I learned true theology that leads me to heaven, not the study of mankind. I thank God for giving me a chance to live," he said.
With the graduation ceremony, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus focused on contributing to the revitalization of the local economy and coexisting with local residents by holding the first large-scale, face-to-face event in Daegu since the COVID-19 pandemic. All possible consumption activities, such as transportation, accommodation, and meals for 100,000 people, were made in the region to help local residents.
After the recent Itaewon tragedy on October 29th where 156 people died and 198 were injured, there was hesitation of still holding the Shincheonji graduation event. But rather than abandoning the opportunity to not only celebrate the graduates but also help the local economy, it was decided to conduct the graduation while enforcing safety measures as much as possible. The event was held with no major issues and was considered a great success by everyone who was involved.
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