Is That a Cult Holding Court at Plymouth Church?

Photo: Mrs. Fink

Controversial Korean religious leader Pastor Ock Soo Park is holding a Bible Crusade this week at Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims on Orange Street. Part of the Saviorist movement in his home country,  Park reportedly did not attend an accredited seminary and his organization is mostly  known for its orange t-shirted followers who aggressively hand out flyers here and around the world.

They are generally referred to in Korea as “Saviorists,” although their precise name is Association of Korean Christian Baptists. In contrast, the name of the official Baptist organization is The Korea Baptist Convention. … Apparently, Saviorist movement started in the 1960s, when an American missionary named Dick York made Park [Ock Soo] a pastor through an informal mission. Mr. Park did not attend any established seminary. (Ask a Korean via NYT City Room)

So are they a cult? Depends on who you ask.  Some commenters on the definitive website for such things,, seem to think it is.  However, Mr. Ross has not added Mr. Park’s Good News Mission to his official list of active cults.

We’ve contacted Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims about the group’s use of its facility and we’re awaiting a reply.
Update: Plymouth spokesperson Ann Geismar tells BHB, “The Good News Church is strictly a rental, and not affiliated with Plymouth Church or our programs. We’re not supporting them financially in any way.

As you probably know, Plymouth Church rents our spaces to other religious organizations (the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue among them) and we don’t ask that they adhere to our views on theology.”

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  • RamonaQuimby

    I would like to know when this “crusade” is going to end. There is pretty much nothing more annoying than being harassed about the bible on the way out of the subway and then again on the corner of Orange Street on the way home from work every night. I’ve never had a problem with Plymouth Church before this, but I don’t understand why they are letting these people harass neighborhood residents.

  • lori

    As I understand it, they rented the space at Plymouth Church from Monday 10/11 – Thursday 10/14, so it will end then. Their only connection with Plymouth is that they are renting the space.

  • Obama?

    Is Plymouth that hard-up for money??? Disgraceful!!!

    Henry Ward Beecher must be rolling in his grave!!!

  • AEB

    Human credulity is ever astounding. (Except mine.)

  • Arch Stanton

    OMG, is it the reincarnation of Rev. Sun Myung Moon? Yesterday, an asian woman handed me a pamphlet, on Court St. I saw something about the bible on the cover, I handed it back to her… Next it will be flowers…

    The only differences between a cult and a religion are the number of followers it has and how long it has been around.

  • T.K. Small

    Last week I saw these folks down on the street outside of Macy’s happily singing away. It was really quite funny.

  • BHer

    Shocking and disgraceful for Plymouth to rent their space to them. If I was a church member I would revolt. Why would they want to help promote this behavior in Brooklyn Heights? It’s a public nuisance.

    Brooklyn Heights Synagogue rents the space for High Holiday services. No one is standing on the sidewalks passing out literature.

  • Arch Stanton

    BHer, How is that so shocking? The Jehovah’s have been in the hood, passing out literature and ringing doorbells, for a very long time…

  • Topham Beauclerk

    Is the theology of this Korean religious organization so very different from Plymouth Church itself or indeed from any other religion? Sin, punishment, reward, priest, god – they all have the same basic ingredients and, in America, tax-exempt status.

  • AmyinBH

    The members of this group seem far less annoying to me than the political candidates and political workers. I was once sworn at by a some politician’s crony when I didn’t stop to talk. The “right to lifers” are the worst. Particularly when they are ignoring the homeless person sitting on the sidewalk right next to them. Why don’t they help the living and needy right in front of them?

  • BHer

    Arch – They are no worse the the JW’s. It’s the idea that Plymouth would rent space to a group of people who are harassing people on the sidewalks. Plymouth Church is a great neighborhood institution. It was a bad decision to facilitate this group. I find it offensive.

  • ClarknHenry

    Even worse–the number of folks who take the little bible books only to toss them into the street a few steps later. I have picked up dozens of the things over the past few days.

  • my2cents

    I don’t mind seeing those cute, smiling Korean girls in their nice navy suits each morning as I walk to the High Street Stop :-) They seem harmless enough.

  • Arch Stanton

    @ BHer Point taken, However in defense of the church (a rare occasion for the Archster), they might not have known the bible crusade

  • Arch Stanton

    followers were going to harass people on the street.

  • willow street

    so when they corner you on the sidewalk on montague street and ask you to sign petitions about gay rights, that’s not harrassment? but when a person tries to hand you a flier about God on court street, it is?

  • AL

    T. K. What, exactly, was funny about their singing?

  • BHer

    I don’t like the Montague activists either. They are annoying too. It would be nice just to walk down the street, go to the grocery store or take my kids to school without having to fend off any solicitors. Too much to ask? I guess the suburbanites get to escape from this by being in cars.

  • T.K. Small

    @AL: It was probably the location that struck me as comical. The singers stood out like a “sore thumb”. It is not everyday that you see a large group of Asian people all wearing the same T-shirt on Fulton Street. In all honesty, it was noisy and I was in a hurry and wasn’t listening carefully. For all I know they were very musically inclined.

  • Jorale-man

    I wonder why they pick Brooklyn Heights? Is it that we’re considered more tolerant as a whole? Or just more accepting of fringe-y religious cults (i.e. the Witnesses). I’d be curious if they’re just using the Heights as a home base and filtering out to other parts of the city too.

    It is strange from Plymouth Church’s perspective – why would they want to mix their message with this organization’s?

  • Joe

    They don’t seem to be anymore annoying than the people on Montague who are forever asking you to sign petitions.

    I also wondered why BH was picked. I guess we are perfect heathens and need to be converted? or did they want to wear their orange shirts on Orange St.

  • Arch Stanton

    What annoys me, is when the activists form a gauntlet by covering both sides of the street and don’t take NO for an answer…. Alas, it’s the price we pay for freedom of speech.

  • Obama?

    The people on Montague St who ask you to sign petitions are often bringing some important political issue to light. They are not begging you to join a religious cult. Do you see a difference?

  • Greg

    Worst of all is that bible thumper who occasionally preaches on the Promenade, shouting about sinners and condemning gays to hell. Hate speech, pure and simple.