Meet Our Pastor --- Rev. Dr. Steven Sunghwan Cho
Rev. Dr. Steven (SungHwan) Cho is the pastor of Ward’s Chapel. Upon beginning his ministry at Ward’s Chapel, his focus was on ‘nurturing spirituality’, ‘equipping laity leadership,’ and ‘sharing God’s hospitality.’ His doctoral study researched the trend in the US, ‘spiritual but not religious’ and pointed out that this might mislead American Christians to lose precious religious traditions and cultural heritages. Pastor Cho said that the Bible basically teaches us, “spirituality is all about discipline.” As Jesus taught and showed, ‘prayer’, ‘meditating on the words of God’, ‘reaching out to the community’, and ‘heartful worship’ are the main components of spirituality. In order to re-establish those four components of the spirituality, Pastor Cho suggests that laity leadership and radical hospitality are the two critical keys.
Pastor Cho is a spiritual leader, preacher, life-coach (ACC), and published author. He is an ordained Elder in Korean Methodist Church and is in the process of being transferred to the United Methodist Church.
Pastor Cho earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Wesley Theological Seminary in DC. While he was working on academic study in 2010, he was called to plant a worshiping community in DC, Alpha Community Church. The church focused on younger generations with diverse cultural background. They gathered at the heart of Washington DC and strived to look at their call from God, and what to do for the kingdom of God. After this ministry, Pastor Cho served at two churches, Stone Chapel (New Windsor) and Zion UMC (Westminster).
In 2019, Bishop Easterling of the Baltimore-Washington Conference appointed Pastor Steven (SungHwan) Cho to Ward’s Chapel. He is excited to serve Ward’s Chapel, and the church responds to him with love and special welcome.
He loves, playing music, golfing, motorcycle riding, and Korean calligraphy. His wife Dong Eun Lee is currently serving at Glyndon United Methodist Church as a pastor and they have a son, Won.
Pastor Steven’s Three Core ministerial values are:
Equipping Laity Leadership
Sharing God’s Hospitality
One day before preschool began, Bridget suddenly said this, and another teacher in the same room did not understand what Bridget said. Then, I brought the same words back to her, “An-young-ha- se-yo.” In fact, it was a Korean greeting, meaning ‘how are you?’ Soon after, she explained to me that she visited one of her uncles in New Jersey who had personal connection with Korean friends and he had taught her some Korean words. She explained this to me while showing me some flash cards.
I have heard this many times, “We are a welcoming congregation”. Some Christians introduce their congregations by stating that they welcome people very well. Then do you think our church, Ward’s Chapel, is a welcoming congregation, too?
I think it is a tricky question, because this is something that we cannot answer. Only visitors or newcomers can answer this question whether we are welcoming people. If we do not ask them ‘how much we welcomed them’, we will never know whether we are a welcoming church or not.
During my transitioning period last June, I had a chance to visit several other churches nearby. Even though it was just personal feeling and emotion, I was able to say, some churches are welcoming and others not. However, I could not find the huge difference among those churches. Interestingly, what I learned was very simple, but powerful. When I came to the main entrance to worship there, one or two people simply said hello, and showed me smiles. And they asked me where I am from and if I had any special reason to visit them. Then conversation went on a little bit. That’s it. Just a couple of ‘friendly greetings’ and a conversation that lasted less than a minute. And I felt, ‘they are welcoming.’
As a pastor of a congregation, and I myself an immigrant person, I know how important showing the hospitability of God is. In the beginning of the new millennium, pastors and theologians became more interested in the concept of ‘Hospitality’. The society has been becoming diverse and people had to deal with the issues about relationship and conflict with the people from different cultural backgrounds. Then they began to learn many things from the ‘differences’ and the life-style to live together. Now many churches are using terms like ‘God’s welcoming’ and ‘hospitality of God.’
We have repeated that our congregation needs more people and having no close community around our church boundary is one big challenge. However, maybe we can make more changes by showing God’s welcome to the people. We can simply say hello to the new visitors, and pay them a little more attention, checking to see if they need anything. One person or a less-than-a-minute friendly conversation can make a big difference. This is the beauty of what the church of God can make. It is not hard, and very simple. If you have a good heart, share it with the others. The spirit of God will work at the moment of welcoming.
Now you can practice your welcoming even to me. Tell me, “An-young-ha- se-yo” (formal way) and or simply say “An-young” (informal, ‘hello’ or ‘hi’) to show ‘God’s love’.
Pastor Steven Cho
Reverend Steven Cho's Monthly Message
- Pastor since 1992, ordained 2007 in Korean Methodist
- Church Planter, DC multicultural project church (2010-2016)
- Published Author, "Bible 101" series found on Amazon, and more books coming
- Novel Writer, "Sicarii", a Korean novel
- Life Coach, International Coaching Federation, ACC
- Enjoys- the tv show "This is Us", calligraphy, motorcycle riding, golf, and music
- Family: wife, Vivian Dongeun Lee, Pastor of Glyndon UMC and son, Won Cho, currently attends South Carroll High School, Jiujitsu player, interested in Bio-Med, violinist