Chungdong First Methodist Church

Chungdong First Methodist Church in Seoul
Chungdong First Methodist Church in Seoul

Chungdong First Methodist Church, established in 1897 by American missionary Henry Appenzeller, is the first Protestant church of Korea. The beautiful red brick church is located just down the road from Deoksugung Palace and Seoul Plaza.

Appenzeller, along with his wife, arrived in Chemulpo, Korea on April 5, 1885. At this time, Seoul was in a political and religious struggle. Preaching of the Christian Gospel had to be done in private.

In 1887, public worship was finally allowed. At this time, Appenzeller acquired a building for services which was known then as Bethel Chapel. Over the years, the number of worshipers grew and grew. Construction on a new and larger church started in 1895 during the 32nd year of the reign of King Gojong.

Chungdong First Methodist Church was dedicated on December 26th, 1897. It is the only 19th century church in Korea that exists today. Appenzeller served as the pastor until his death in 1902. A bust of Appenzeller was erected on the church grounds in his honor along with a 50th anniversary commemoration memorial.

Chungdong First Methodist Church is a single story red brick building. The belfry, or bell tower, is three stories tall. Originally, the layout of the church was in the shape of a cross with 380 square meters (4,090 square feet) of space. After being expanded, the shape is now of a rectangle with 578 square feet (6,221 square feet) of space.

Chapel and bell tower of Chungdong First Methodist Church in Seoul
Chapel and bell tower

The style of the church is Victoria era Gothic with arched windows. The roof is a triangular gable roof, which is unusual as most Gothic churches use spires.

A new connecting chapel was built in honor of the 100th anniversary of Methodism in Korea. This new chapel was dedicated on April 15, 1979. On April 15, 1990, the Social and Educational Center Building was opened.

Gothic style windows of Chungdong First Methodist Church in Seoul
Gothic style windows