Korea Campus Crusade for Christ (KCCC) officially announced on March 11 that the organization's name will be changed to 'SOON Movement.' For the near future, the organization will be using both names together as leaders predict it will take time to completely transition from the original name the organization had been known as for 45 years.

According to KCCC, Campus Crusade for Christ (also known as Cru) was started by Dr. Bill Bright and his wife at UCLA in 1951, and currently has some 30,000 full-time staff in 193 countries. In 1971, staff of Korea Campus Crusade for Christ -- a South Korea affiliate of Cru -- began evangelizing in college campuses in Los Angeles, which began KCCC's ministry in the U.S. Today, KCCC has about 90 staff in 52 universities in the country's major cities.

KCCC's leaders have pursued changing the ministry's name since four years ago, beginning with Campus Crusade for Christ's decision to change its name to Cru in 2011. The leaders of Campus Crusade for Christ, as it was known as at the time, decided to change the ministry's name after concluding that the term 'Crusade' in the middle of the former name may remind some of the historical Crusades that took place from the 11th to 13th centuries, and may thus have a negative influence on the ministry's evangelical and missional purposes. For the same reason, some 95 percent of Cru's international affiliates had also changed their names, including 'Agape' in Europe, 'Life Ministry' in Southeast Asia, 'Great Commission Ministry' in West Africa, and 'Power to Change' in Canada and Australia. However, the affiliate in South Korea still maintains the name, 'Korea Campus Crusade for Christ.'

The various global affiliates, though they are still a part of the Cru umbrella, are independent in terms of operations, and are able to decide their own names depending on the missional conditions and circumstances of each country. And within Cru's ministry in the U.S., several sub-ministries for different ethnic groups also exist, including Epic Movement for Asian Americans and Destino Movement for Latino Americans. KCCC is a part of Cru, but has been carrying out ministry independent from it in the sense that it focused on reaching out to Korean American college students and Korean students studying abroad in the U.S., and had been maintaining the name, 'KCCC.' But it will now be changing its name to 'SOON Movement.'

KCCC Higher Calling
(Photo : Christianity Daily)
Staff of Korea Campus Crusade for Christ and other local church pastors hosted a press conference late last year to explain details of Higher Calling Conference, KCCC's annual winter conference.

'Soon' is a Korean term that symbolizes Christ and appears in the Korean translation of Isaiah 53:2, which describes Jesus as one who "grew up before him like a tender shoot." (The 'shoot' is translated into 'soon,' in Korean.) At the same time, 'soon' is also a Korean term that is directly related to one of the most defining aspects of KCCC's ministry: 'soon' small groups. KCCC's small groups are called 'soons,' in which the 'soon wons' (small group members) are discipled by 'soon jangs' (small group leaders). Using the word 'soon,' which is a significant term in KCCC's discipleship training, as part of the ministry's new name also can be interpreted as the ministry's further commitment to discipleship.

The decision made by Cru's leaders to change the ministry's name came from the negative connotations that the term 'Crusade' has, but KCCC has a bit of a variety of reasons in changing its name. The first reason has to do with the 'Korea' portion of the name.

"As our campus ministry's focus and weight began to turn to the English-speaking members, and though we're proud of our Korean heritage, we began to notice that the term 'Korea' in our name may give off a vibe that we don't welcome students who aren't Korean, and that we're trying to be exclusive to Koreans," KCCC staff said at a press conference on March 11.

"The need to change the 'Korean' portion of our name came to the forefront when we realized that the presidents of the student bodies in our Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago regions were either White or Chinese, different ethnicities," explained Dong Whan Kim, the national director of KCCC USA.

A similar logic was applied for the term, 'Campus,' in the former name. KCCC's current ministry is not bound only to college campuses, but the organization also engages in local church ministry, worship ministry, and juvenile camp ministry, beyond the lines of the college campus. And for 'Crusade,' the same reasoning applied as that of Cru's.

Dong Whan Kim KCCC
(Photo : Christianity Daily)
Dong Whan Kim is the national director of KCCC USA, or SOON Movement.

"For Muslims, who we consider as the most significant people group to whom we must evangelize, the term 'Crusades' carries with it the most pain," explained Kim. "We don't need to create additional barriers to ministry by keeping that term."

The last term left is 'Christ.'

"Only the name of Jesus Christ must be exalted and shared. For this name to be most effectively shared to people of all backgrounds, anything can be relativized or changed," KCCC representative said.

To the question, "Is there any evidence that taking out the term 'Christ' in the name would help to share the gospel more effectively?" Kim responded, "We take pride in being a campus ministry that shares the gospel most proactively. In reality, saying up front, 'I am Christian,' while evangelizing on college campuses creates a barrier as the other person begins to think, 'I'm not a Christian.' It causes the process to begin with a closed heart. But when we introduce ourselves with the term, 'soon,' which symbolizes Christ, it would make it easier for those who are approached to become more interested. We don't want to abandon Christ's name; we want to exalt and testify Christ with the term, 'soon.'" KCCC staff explained that 'soon' is "the most Korean term that signifies Christ."

When asked, "Have you considered the first impression that Korean Americans or students of other ethnicities may have at the term, 'soon'?" Kim answered, "'Soon' is the same word as the 'soon' that signifies the near future, and so it does get compared in that way."

"However," Kim continued, "we can turn that attention to an interest for Jesus Christ."

"When writing the term in English, we will be spelling the name with all capital letters, as ' SOON,'" explained Sung Joo Cho, the operations director for KCCC.

"We are concerned that those who spent their most precious college years in KCCC whether in South Korea or in the U.S. may feel that changing the ministry's name may take away from their memories with the ministry," KCCC said in a statement. "But nothing has changed. We have served not for the name of KCCC, but for Jesus Christ. Though our name may change, we hope that you will continue to love and support us so that we could further testify to the name of Jesus Christ."

Meanwhile, some of KCCC's current staff were sent to the U.S. from South Korea's Campus Crusade for Christ, and KCCC USA has had a 'dual affiliation' with both South Korea's CCC and Cru in the U.S., but with this name change, KCCC USA will become exclusively under Cru in terms of legal or operational aspects. Most of KCCC's current staff are either 1.5 or second generation Korean Americans who were trained by first generation Korean staff, and KCCC's name change could also be interpreted as a shift in generational focus and leadership from the first to the second generation Korean Americans.

This article has been translated by Rachael Lee. For the original in Korean, visit kr.christianitydaily.com.