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
A priest was coming back to his rectory one evening in the dark when he was accosted by a robber who pulled a gun on him and demanded, “Your money or your life!” As the priest reached into his coat pocket, the robber saw his Roman collar and said, “I see you’re a priest. Never mind, you can go.” The priest tried to reciprocate by offering the robber a candy bar that he remembered was in his pocket.
The robber replied, “No thank you, Father. I don’t eat candy during Lent.”
Lent began. As I explained before, Lent is the special period when we prepare for the resurrection of Jesus. There are two ways that we spend time during Lent. One way is to remember the ministry of Jesus and follow the way of the Lord. We share the love of God and be kind to our people. Then the last Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday, the highlight of Jesus's ministry. The second way is to remember the suffering of Christ. The main focus of the second perspective is that Christ-followers should understand that they are not alone. Jesus also participated in human suffering and pain, and by the sacrifice of Jesus, we can be saved. The last Sunday of Lent becomes ‘Passion Sunday.’
The Christian church historically used to celebrate Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Easter in different ways. The tradition of imposing ashes became a part of a Christian ritual (especially the Catholic church) in the ninth century, and ‘fasting’ as a spiritual discipline was also recommended around this time. After the Reformation in the sixteenth century, Protestant churches rejected those traditions of the Catholic church because they wanted to make sure the Christian life should begin with faith, not with the way of following traditions. So, they thought even if people practiced imposition of ashes, and joined the Good Friday service, it did not mean that they truly repented. Christians are being saved by faith, not by the action, our Protestant ancestors believed.
Then, later, in the nineteenth century, these Ash Wednesday rituals and Lenten traditions came back to our Protestant groups again, because they realized that fasting and Lenten ritual would be great disciplines for their spirit. ‘Ecumenical movement’ brought Christian churches back to the rich tradition of these rituals. However, the spirit and the lessons of this season remain the same; remembering the life of Jesus, and being the disciples of Christ.
Regardless of the tradition that you belong to, during Lent we listen to the call from Jesus. Jesus is our Lord, and he has never refused to sacrifice himself for this world and the people of God. So, I hope we remember the love of God by participating in spiritual disciplines and learn ‘humbleness’ from Jesus.
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