When we left the Catholic church in Myeong dong, my professor friend begins giving me directions to another interesting Korean church building. He says, “Go toward City Hall” n Korean. City Hall is close to the American embassy and Gyeongbuk Palace in Gwangwamun in the middle of Seoul. It is only a few blocks from the Myeong dong Cathedral. The professor points out across the way that there is a building with orange roof tiles, and that is where we are going, to an Anglican Church building that they began building more than 100 years ago, and they aren’t finished yet.
Because of the construction, we have to take several detours and U turns to get there, but we finally reach the gate of the parking lot. This parking lot is outside and not as massive as when we went to the Catholic Church building. A rod iron fence lines the courtyard with roses growing throughout it. We find a parking place and get out. This place is not all western architecture like the Catholic Church was. The building itself is western, but there are buildings around the main building our professor calls “missionary buildings” that are made in the traditional Korean style. We see a Korean priest with a backward collar and a long dress walk out of the Korean style buildings.
We go into the Cathedral. There is a place at the door where holy water is kept. I learned from Orthodox nuns in Romania that holy water is water the priest has prayed over, and some people think it has a kind of magical power. One Orthodox nun in training took me home with her once. She was explaining to me about the holy oil she had. She said the priest had prayed over it, and she used it to rub on cuts and things like that on her skin, and it caused them to get better. She didn’t realize that even if the oil had not been prayed over, it would probably help her cuts heal anyway. We often use oily ointments like petroleum jelly to make things on the skin heal faster.
As we go on in, I see a place at the back of the auditorium where they sprinkle babies. We also begin seeing pictures on the walls in frames. The pictures of Bible events line the whole auditorium, 3D pictures in relief with several layers. We are lucky enough to walk around inside because there are no services at this time. We turned the lights on, but my daughter turned them off again being worried that someone wouldn’t like tourists messing with their lights. The windows are stained glass windows, but there are no pictures on these windows, just colored glass.
When we get to the front of the auditorium, we see a sign written in Korean that we are not allowed to walk up onto the platform in the front. I was glad I stopped to read what was written because in Romania at an Orthodox church building, I had no idea that women were not supposed to go to the front of the church building. I walked up front after a wedding to talk to the Orthodox priest. When I stepped on the carpet in the front, he began yelling and wouldn’t talk to me at all. I had offended him because I am a woman and women were not allowed at the front at all. I wasn’t looking to offend anyone at this church building, so I was glad I noticed the sign and could read the Korean.
We walked on, and we found an organ at the front of the auditorium. On the other side of the organ, they had the Byzentine painting of Mary and baby Jesus that looks so much like Isis and Horus from the Egyptian religions that were popular in Rome when the Romans were converted to Christianity. On the next wall, there were pictures of the inside of the bell tower and the church bell. In Romania, in every little village, there were church bells, and it was normal to wake up on Sunday morning to church bells ringing. When I was a little girl who lived in England, there was a church of England (Anglican Church) down the road from us, and some friends invited me to go there with them. They had a woman at the front playing an organ, but I don’t remember if there was a church bell, but there could have been. In that Anglican Church building in England was the first time I heard about Jesus, and at the time was very puzzled about why they were talking about some man who lived 2,000 years ago, but as an adult, I truly understand why so many people talk about him. His teachings and influence changed the world and civilized it! I believe he is the son of God, but even if I didn’t, I understand through the study of history that the world needed him badly, and he made the difference the world needed and still needs.
We continue walking and turned around and headed for the entrance. We look up and see another, much larger organ on a balcony at the back of the auditorium. This brings back more memories for me. When we lived in Romania, there was a Lutheran church building down the road from us that was a UNESCO World Heritage site. The care taker told me that any time I wanted, I was welcome to go there and play their organ that was in a balcony at the back of the auditorium, and sometimes, I went there alone just to play the organ just for the fun of it.
As we walk out of the building, a man who looks like a caretaker enters. We head back for the car. I spot a Korean nun, but she quickly went around the building, so we didn’t get a picture of her. I guess I hadn’t thought about the Anglican church having nuns. In the past, I only thought of the Catholic and Orthodox churches having nuns, but the Anglican church is a branch off the Catholic church, so it makes sense. If you don’t know the story of King Henry the 8th and Anne Boleyn, you should read it or watch the movie. It is the story of how the English broke away from the Catholic church and the monarch of England became the head of the Church in England. The Queen of England now is the head of this and other Anglican churches as the Pope is the head of the Catholic church, the Metropoli is head of the Orthodox church, and Christ is head of the church we read about in the Bible.
As we go out again, it is complicated because of all the one way streets, U turns, and ongoing construction. Imagine, they have been building this church building for more than 100 years, and they aren’t finished yet. Keep reading my blogs because I will find lots of interesting things to tell you about in Korea.