Superior church reboots Korean congregation

Many UWS students attend the worship service.

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Joel Certa-Werner, pastor of Faith United Methodist Church, installs a banner for the church's new congregation, Grace Korean Community Worship Service, outside the building Friday, Feb. 28. (Maria Lockwood /

Faith United Methodist Church in Superior launched a new congregation, Grace Korean Worship Community, Sunday, March 1.

The outreach is a reboot. Grace Korean started in Duluth 11 years ago at Hope United Methodist Church. When its pastor, David Park, announced he was retiring at the end of 2019, the congregation was gifted to Wisconsin.

Faith United Pastor Joel Certa-Werner doesn’t speak a word of Korean, but he agreed to lead the service.

“We are stepping out in faith, and we’re doing so with a lot of prayer and support,” he said.

Loren and Katie Nelson of Hayward started attending when the service was held in Duluth. They were at Faith United Methodist on Sunday, as the congregation officially launched there.


“In Hayward, there is no Korean community,” Loren Nelson said. “So we went looking for one, and we found out they had a church with students in Duluth … We haven't missed a Sunday since.”

United Methodist Conference leaders from Minnesota and Wisconsin marked the occasion, as well.

For Wisconsin Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, who hails from South Korea, it was a dream come true, he said.

“It’s a very special occasion to preach in my own mother tongue,” he told the congregation. “It is a great honor, you know, a great joy because I never dreamed that I’m going to preach in Korean in Superior, Wisconsin.”

Superior was a logical spot for Grace Korean because its core group is made up of University of Wisconsin-Superior students. Faith United Methodist is just a few blocks away from the UWS campus, Certa-Werner said.

Attendance at Grace Korean in Duluth was about 13, he said. Since moving to Superior, attendance has nearly doubled.

“I have come to love it and I found out I really like Korean food, especially the kimchi,” Certa-Werner said.

UWS students took part in the service on Sunday. Jeonghwan Ko, Yo Han Lee, Sujeong Choi and Yubin Bang sang worship songs in Korean, with Yellowjacket junior Eddie Seongun Jee on piano. After the service, everyone dug into a Korean meal, much of which was prepared by Katie Nelson.


Bang said she appreciated Certa-Werner taking on the challenge of leading a Korean service and enjoyed the youthful congregation.

UWS freshman Yoonho So said the best thing about Grace Korean is that it brings people together. He said the service helps him "not feel all alone."

Lee, who’s been attending for two years, said he thought the move to Superior made the service better because it’s closer. He comes for the food and fellowship.

“I like this community,” he said.

Superior is the sixth community in Wisconsin to launch a Korean church, Certa-Werner said. The congregations range from a 64-year-old Kenosha church to one in Eau Claire that started last year.

The new congregation offers church members a chance to touch the world directly.

“Our ministry has a reach of 6,353 miles because these students will go back to Korea,” Certa-Werner said. “How amazing that is.”

Faith United member Maria Nelson of Duluth took pictures on Sunday for the church scrapbook. She said she supports the church's efforts.


“It shows lots of love for every sort of person, different culture; the more the merrier,” she said.

Visit the Faith United Methodist Church website for information and a link to daily devotionals in Korean.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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