Taipei, Taiwan (Merxwire) – The Academic Group of Christian Gospel Mission (CGM), commonly known as Providence Church, convened an academic seminar in the Da Vinci Hall, GIS NTU Convention Center on November 13, 2021.
CGM is a new religious movement that began in South Korea in 1988. Since then, the religious movement has become localized in Taiwan while maintaining its original theological interpretation.
In Taiwan, CGM has also contributed significantly to a comprehensive understanding of important social issues, such as gender equality and the pursuit of Taiwanese subjectivity.
As for academic research, CGM has been conducting a series of research with Massimo Introvigne, an international human rights scholar who specializes in issues of religious freedom in China and East Asia. CGM has also officially signed a cooperation agreement with the Center of the Study of Chinese Religion in National Chengchi University at the end of June 2021.
Pastor Su Rui-Hua, a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Studies of National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), and Dr. Tsai Chih-Che, a postdoctoral researcher in Department of East Asian Studies of NTNU, published three papers for the seminar. CGM also invited three influential professors as commentators, including Dr. Lin Jia-He, an associate professor in the College of Law of National Chengchi University, Dr. Haisul Palalavi, an assistant professor at the Center for Teacher Education of Taitung University, and Dr. Zheng Mu-Qun, an adjunct assistant professor of the History Department of Tamkang University.
The first paper discusses the difference between the development strategies of CGM in Taiwan and the Unification Church, both of which originated from South Korea, through three-tier construction. Taiwan CGM was established in 2013, and from then on, it steered away from the strategy of hiding and underplaying its religious elements. Instead, it officially adopted “CGM”as its name and the name of its founder, Pastor Jung Myung Seok, as inherent to its identity. Taiwan CGM then organized a number of social welfare activities, which positively influenced the domestic development of CGM. As a result, after 2009, CGM has nearly doubled the number of members to 2000 within ten years.
The second paper focuses on how Pastor Jung Myung Seok used his unrequited love experience from when he was young as an analogy to understanding the relationship of Jesus and his followers in the New Testament as that of bride and bridegroom. Thus, he interpreted the role of Jesus as the bridegroom to each and every believer individually. This mentality became the core value of Providence teachings. Providence Church tried to bring back Catholic traditions and practices, by establishing a system of “Faith Stars.” “Faith Stars” is celibacy priesthood similar to the priests and nuns of Catholicism, thereby cultivating full-time clergy (male and female included). Originally developed from the Protestant system, this system is unique amongst new religious movements.
The third paper was written by two authors – Dr. Tsai Chih-Che and a lawyer, Mr. Tsai Yi-Ta, who provided legal commentary. This paper, in the context of the social suppression of new religious movements, re-examines how the founder of the Providence church, Pastor Jung Myung Seok, not only experienced religious persecution from the Chinese Communist Party due to particular legal issues, but also suffered from harm caused by the miscarriage of justice in South Korea. The experience of Pastor Jung Myung Seok was extremely worthy of public attention and sympathy.
The publisher believes that, as Sen Yan (the author of “Injustice”) said, members of the public should not regard the defendant as a convicted person just because there is a so-called “verdict.” Rather, scholars and experts should examine scientific evidence and scrutinize the case of Pastor Jung Myung Seok without stigmatization. Dr. Lin Jia-He commended that the two collaborative authors gave an extraordinary analysis. It was obvious that the judgment of the case of Pastor Jung Myung Seok violated the law, and he assumed that the case has a high probability to be redressed, referring to the cases that had been redressed in the U.S.
The seminar ended up with more than forty highly active participants, and numerous meaningful questions were asked, making the seminar come to a successful close.