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
We have looked at the meaning of the church this summer and I think it is very important to plan for Ward’s Chapel after COVID. And I have thrown out this question to you, “What does Ward’s Chapel mean to you?”
There are different ways to define things. If someone asks you “How are you doing?” then you may answer, “I am good!” However, at the same time, you may share with the person about your recent change, or your new job, or your family, or your current medical issues. So, you have different ways of expressing how you are doing.
Same to our church question. Who are we as part of Ward’s Chapel? We are Christians. We are Protestants. We are Methodists. Also, some may answer, they are on the liberal side of Methodists, or on the conservative side. Different definitions can be chosen.
But, today I want to share about this, we as Protestants. This is a concept that we use to define ourselves compared to the Roman Catholic tradition. And it is a very important clue to know who we are. In the sixteenth century, there was a courageous German priest who consistently tried to incorporate what he believed and what the Roman Catholic Church taught. Then he was not satisfied with the atmosphere because his questions were often disregarded. In the end, he posted a whole list of questions, called Ninety-Five Theses. This one brought up serious questions on certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, for example, indulgences (a way of reducing eternal punishment by paying money), and purgatory (a place where people with sin stay before going to hell). That’s why Martin Luther became an undeniably symbolic figure who started a huge change in our church history.
However, that is just one way of interpreting our history. The truth was about the Protestant movement was that it began not simply because a smart person asked some serious questions, but also, the sacred desire and need of the time period and of the people was growing. In the sixteenth century, there was no Bible for the laities or just ordinary people (only the Latin version existed for the priests), and the church was protected by a strong hierarchy. Most of all, the church taught that people can be saved by action (also called the work of the people) such as paying more money to buy the ticket to heaven, (indulgence). But, people realized that the Bible teaches that we can only be saved by the grace of God through faith. This was the real reason and how the Reformation began.
As we plan the re-visioning process together this fall, I named this project, “Re-Formation.” We know it’s time to move forward and we should initiate some important plans for the future when we feel that we still have time. But my whole idea is that it is not about only one or two people starting this, such as key members, lay leaders or the pastor. But the eagerness and full participation from the congregation should become a critical catalyst to re-directing the ways for our church, Ward’s Chapel.
I know we have done so well, and many church members and leaders have beautifully worked together. Then now I humbly ask you to pay attention to this new project “Re-Formation” to find God’s direction for the future generation of this beautiful congregation. Please watch for an announcement about this project and share your wisdom with me. Thank you!
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