Christians mourned publicly across continents Tuesday as news spread of the passing of David Yonggi Cho, the controversial co-founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church, the world’s largest congregation headquartered in Seoul, Korea, which encompasses a network of churches that once claimed more than 800,000 members. He was 85.
Yonggi Cho, who retired from leading the church in 2008 and was named pastor emeritus, died at 7:13 a.m. at a Seoul hospital, The Korea Herald reported. The beloved pastor was being treated for cerebral hemorrhage since July 2020.
“He conveyed the gospel of hope to the Korean people who fell into despair after the Korean War,” the church said in a statement to The Associated Press. “He was instrumental in growing the Korean church, particularly developing Yoido Full Gospel Church as the world’s largest church.”
Billy Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, called Cho “one of the great leaders of the Spirit-Empowered movement.”
“I am sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. David Yonggi Cho, one of the great leaders of the Spirit-Empowered movement,” Wilson said in a statement on Twitter.
“His ministry, writings and fatherhood blessed millions. Dr. Cho’s legacy and impact will continue for many generations.”