On January 1, 1984, two dozen Korean immigrant families crammed together in the living rooms of two homes. Opening with silent prayer and a hymn in Korean, these families began their first Sunday worship as a church. The leadership took the opportunity at this first service to describe their direction and values as a church. Seeking to define itself through the honoring of its ethnic roots and doctrinal heritage, the church took on its first and original name, the Korean Orthodox Presbyterian Church (KOPC). So began the story of the church.
The following week, God graciously provided a home for KOPC at a church building in Arlington, VA. Through the faithful ministry of dedicated youth and college pastors, God eventually raised and equipped the emerging English-speaking college group.
After several years, KOPC moved to its own 200-seat building in 1991 in McLean, VA. It was here that Pastor Paul Kim joined the church as an interim senior pastor and soon became the permanent senior pastor of the Korean-speaking congregation (KC) and of the entire church.
In 1992, Pastor Paul invited Pastor Jonathan Kim to serve as the first pastor for the young EC (English-speaking congregation), now consisting of young adult professionals. During this part of KOPC's journey, through the vision and guidance of Pastor Paul Kim, the leadership decided to take their journey as a church together, as two interdependent, intergenerational bodies. In 1995, Pastor Sung became the interim EC lead pastor. By this time, the EC was meeting together across the street from the KC, at Langley High School with 120 in attendance. In 1998, Pastor John became the EC lead pastor.
In 2000, KOPC began to forge its direction and intergenerational ties through missions. The church - EC and KC together - sent out its first two families to Central Asia and also began creating missions teams consisting of members from the EC, KC, and the youth group. God seemed to be blessing all these joint missions endeavors.
Then a crucial watershed moment came when the church decided to move to the current campus in Herndon Virginia in 2001 together. Up until now, both congregations had grown together (though meeting apart), but the dynamics of the congregations were viewed mostly through the lens of a "model." Much of the interdependent dreams were still unrealized and unmapped. But now, this decision to move would solidify the future and the investment in this relationship. Money would be spent. Long-term commitments would be made. There was no turning back. Incidentally, after the decision was made to move together, the church grew the most - both in number and in health.
Finding itself now in Herndon, a neighborhood where 51% were non-Korean minorities, the church sought to live out its calling to be salt and light. And so, in 2002, under the oversight of Pastor Paul and the KC elders, the church officially adopted its new name, Open Door Presbyterian Church (ODPC).
In 2004, the entire church went through a vision casting process and agreed to adopt their current vision, to be an open door to a life-changing grace. This vision was revolutionary for the church. All the various ministries, congregations, and generations rallied around this banner of God's grace - yet each congregation pursued this vision in their own respective cultural setting and generational context. A few years later in 2006, ODPC developed a definition of the interdependent, intergenerational model 1:2:1 - one vision, two households, one family.
The staff and leadership transitioned as well. In 2008, Pastor John and Pastor Dihan transitioned and "swapped" their roles, where Pastor Dihan would now serve as the lead pastor and Pastor John as an associate teaching pastor.
Along with the change in leadership came a change in vision. The EC was still committed to being an open door to a life-changing grace, but the leadership realized that the church was not finding the necessary traction in this direction. “Grace” was too broad of a word. And so the EC committed to becoming an open door to a life-changing GOSPEL, and in that way becoming a place of grace. More than mere semantics, this change from “grace” to “gospel” galvanized the church and compelled her to wrestle with what it means to live out the gospel personally, corporately; and missionally to the surrounding community.
One direct outcome of this shift in vision was a clear mandate to create a church environment where anyone in need of the gospel would be welcomed, whether this was a friend, neighbor or coworker. Because of this conviction, along with the incredible growth the EC, KC and CE were experiencing, the EC began a vision campaign for a worship center where they would live out their calling to be an open door to a life-changing Gospel.
In April 2009, the EC pledged towards a 500+ seat church building on the Herndon campus, 200 meters away from the KC building. The EC and KC would continue together as one church but would pursue this in different ways and in different settings- 1:2:1!
In late 2009, three EC elder candidates - Harry Choi, Scott Kim, and Yooshik Seo - were elected as elders of ODPC. Along with the 3 current EC staff Elders, the EC has 6 acting elders representing the EC in the session.
Today, ODPC is a large and growing family with an EC congregation of close to 650 adults [college and up], growing alongside a KC of 1700, and a children's ministry of 700 and a youth group of 300.
Naturally, this story is far from over. There will be many more pages to come. Yet, the members and congregations of Open Door are filled with anticipation. They look forward to the One who is the Author and the One who will faithfully complete their story. And also, while this story may very well exceed the lives of the members of ODPC, they are humbled and privileged that theirs is but a small paragraph in His Great Story of saving and redeeming grace.