Yoido Full Gospel Church is a Pentecostal church affiliated with the Assemblies of God on Yeouido (Yoi Island) in Seoul, South Korea. With about 1,000,000 members (2007), it is the largest Pentecostal Christian congregation in South Korea, and the World. Founded and led by David Yonggi Cho since 1958.
Early years: 1958–1961
The Yoido Full Gospel Church was founded by Pastor David Yonggi Cho and his mother-in-law, Choi Ja-shil (최자실), both Assemblies of God pastors. On May 15, 1958, a worship service was held in the home of Choi Ja-shil. Apart from the two pastors, only Choi Ja-shil's three daughters (one of whom later married David Yungi Cho) and one elderly woman, who had come in to escape from the rain, attended the first service. The two pastors began a vigorous campaign of knocking on doors, providing spiritual and humanitarian help to the poor, and praying for the sick. Within months, the church had grown to fifty members, too many to accommodate in Choi Ja-shil's living room. Worship services were accordingly moved to a tent pitched in her backyard. As the church continued to grow over the following months and years, the church outgrew one tent after another.
The Seodaemun Church: 1961–1973
The church's plans for expansion suffered a setback when Pastor Cho was called up for mandatory military service. Fortunately for the church, he was assigned to an American Army base near Seoul, allowing him to continue with his Sunday preaching, with the help of John Hurston, an American missionary. Cho's spell in the army was short, as ill-health required a major operation and a subsequent discharge from the army. Although ill, Cho continued to pastor the church, and on 15 October 1961 an inaugural service was held in the new auditorium that had been built on the plot of land the church had purchased at Seodaemun. It was named the Full Gospel Revival Center.
In March 1996, the Seoul Logos Company published a 21-volume collection of Pastor Cho's sermons, delivered over his ministry of thirty-eight years. What the church regarded as a crowning honour came in September 1992, when Pastor Cho was elected Chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship. This was the first time that international leadership of the denomination of fifty million members in sixty countries had passed out of American hands. He served in this capacity until August 2000. Pastor Cho, now assisted by a total of 171 associate pastors and 356 lay pastors, continues to lead the Yoido Full Gospel Church, whose status as the world's largest congregation has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.