Stand outside Lidcombe Anglican Church and it’s obvious you’re in a booming construction zone. There’s a huge crane moving to and fro, the jackhammers are busy and wherever you look you can see shiny new apartment blocks.

But it’s who’s moving in that captured the attention of the Rev Danny Au Yeung when he became rector in early 2023.

“Ten years ago, there were a lot of Chinese migrants from mainland China coming to Australia, and quite a lot of them settled in Lidcombe,” he says. “However, in the past three to five years Koreans started moving in... A lot of Koreans will now come to do their shopping in Lidcombe or meet with friends here to eat. 

“The high rises will keep coming, tons of apartments, and 70 per cent of the apartments will be bought by Koreans. So, when I first came here, I started chatting to Kevin [Kim, the rector of Enfield and Strathfield] because I wanted to learn from him about Korean ministry and then see if some sort of partnership between his church and ours might be possible.”

Mr Au Yeung, whose church already has services in English, Cantonese and Mandarin, was happy to explore all manner of Korean ministry options – from Bible study groups to church planting. And, by God’s grace, his call to Mr Kim came at just the right moment.

Says Mr Kim: “We had been thinking about planting a new congregation for quite some time... considering a number of possibilities like West Ryde, Parramatta or Chatswood. While we were thinking about the whole process, just out of the blue Danny gave me a call. I call it divine intervention!”

There was a possibility that the entire Korean congregation from Strathfield might move to Lidcombe, but the church building wasn’t large enough so, in the end, members were asked to consider being part of a church plant in Lidcombe.

Says Mr Au Yeung: “It all came together quite quickly. I met with the leadership team from the Korean congregation at Strathfield and could really see there was a lot of goodwill... They’re very gospel-hearted and wanted to see this happen.”

A new church family

By the end of last year one of the assistant ministers from Enfield and Strathfield, the Rev John Shin, felt called to lead the church planting team, and in late February the group began weekly meetings to prepare for a “soft” launch on May 5.

“Before we evangelise and make disciples, we just decided that, as a new church, we needed very strong connections and bonds among ourselves,” Mr Shin says. “Without that kind of family bond, we can’t do proper ministry. So now I’m focusing on those things, teaching them what is church and what is the church’s mission... so, we already feel like one family.”

He adds that people in the new congregation have been tremendously encouraged by how services have run up to this point – adding that, even though the congregation isn’t officially public, members have already begun inviting non-Christian friends and acquaintances.

“Every planting member, they are so keen to share the gospel and preach the gospel!” he says.

The public ministry will begin with a thanksgiving service on June 30 at 4pm – a different time to the usual Sunday meeting so members of other Korean churches can come, invite friends and, together, rejoice and pray for this growing ministry network.

Says Mr Kim: “I’m particularly excited about John serving under Danny’s ‘umbrella’. I think Danny is a great, gospel-minded, generous leader who understands the ins and outs of ethnic ministry. And just the fact that, when he first went to Lidcombe and looked around his parish, he immediately saw the need for a Korean ministry to happen, just speaks volumes.

“Lidcombe has been a Chinese parish for quite some time, so for Danny and the whole parish to expand their vision and go beyond Chinese ethnicity to reach out to Koreans is so admirable and gospel rich.”

Mr Au Yeung says that even though most of the people moving into Lidcombe are from South Korea, part of the church’s vision is to connect with everyone in the community, which includes migrants from all over the world. People from South Asia and the Middle East have joined Lidcombe’s English service in the past year, and the new Korean ministry adds another big piece to the community puzzle.  

“Our Chinese Christians at church were very excited that we could be part of reaching out to another nation with the Korean ministry,” he says. “They are so keen to have them come along. The Cantonese congregation was also quite sacrificial in that they were happy to move their service to the church hall and let the Koreans use the main church building, so the Koreans have the space for ministry and growth. 

“On the first Sunday [of the new congregation] the Cantonese and Mandarin lunch teams prepared lunch so the Koreans could share it with us. They clapped when the Koreans came in and we all ate together, so it was quite lovely... The Koreans were very thankful, so their kitchen team cooked for the Chinese the next Sunday – bulgogi and rice and kimchi for 150 people!”