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South Korea contains many of the largest megachurches in the world. Through the popularity of celebrity pastors, the use of media technology, and innovative church and missionary strategies, Korean churches have significantly shaped megachurch practices around the world. Yet even within these Korean churches, there is the impression that Korean churches primarily emulate American megachurches.
In a Center for Korean Studies colloquium October 23, 2019, at 4:00 p.m., cultural anthropologist Heather Mellquist Lehto will outline two key ways in which Korean megachurches have shaped Christianity around the globe, demonstrating that even the most famous American megachurches have followed the example of South Korean megachurches by adopting both the multi-site church structure and cell groups.
Lehto will highlight factors that contribute to the American exceptionalism that pervades conversations about evangelicalism and offer suggestions for furthering the de-colonial aims of the study of “global Christianity.” Drawing on more than two years of ethnographic research in congregations of Yoido Full Gospel Church and Onnuri Church in South Korea and the United States, she will discuss what we can learn about contemporary Christian practices by understanding these churches as vanguards of global trends.
Heather Mellquist Lehto, currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Hawai‘i Center for Korean Studies, is a cultural anthropologist who studies technology, religion, and social relations in South Korea and the United States. Her book manuscript, “Holy Infrastructure: The Multisite Church Revolution in South Korea and the United States,” explores the coordination of technological and religious innovation in transnational Korean churches. She has published articles in Acta Koreana and Anthropology News, and her research has been featured on PRI’s The World. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s in religious studies from Harvard University.
The Center for Korean Studies is located at 1881 East-West Road on the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa campus. Center events are free and open to the public. For further information, including information regarding access for the handicapped, telephone the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956‑7041. This presentation is supported by the Core University Program for Korean Studies through the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Studies Promotion Service of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2015-OLU-2250005). The University of Hawai‘i is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.