BOSTON — A Presbyterian minister in South Korea, who gathered together a congregation of 27 refugees from North Korea in 1945 that today has more than 60,000 members, has been named the winner of the 1992 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.
In a ceremony yesterday in New York City, Dr. Kyung-Chik Han became the 22nd recipient of the award. He will receive British pounds575,000 (just over $1 million), the world's largest annual prize.
The Templeton award was originated in 1972 by global investment pioneer John Marks Templeton to honor a living person who has advanced mankind's understanding of God. Past winners include Mother Teresa (1973), the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham (1982), and Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1983).
According to a statement read at the announcement, Dr. Han will set aside the majority of the prize money to rebuild churches in North Korea "as soon as it is politically possible." During his 47-year ministry, Dr. Han has overseen the distribution of food aid to the needy worldwide as well as the building of primary, secondary, and vocational schools, and care facilities for orphans, babies, widows, and the elderly.
The Templeton organization said in a statement that the Presbyterian Church of Korea under Dr. Han has based its mission on prayer: "prayer to transform lives and relationships through the power of Christ, prayer to increase congregations, prayer to help North and South Korea reunify and, of course, prayer to answer personal concerns."
According to the Templeton Prize organization's statement of purpose, the award is made "to stimulate [a] quest for deeper understanding and pioneering breakthroughs in religious knowledge by calling attention annually to achievements in this area.