In advance of next year's 50th anniversary celebration for the Korean Church of Columbus, a building project is underway at the Snouffer Road campus to provide additional worship space and allow expansion of programs for young people.

The Rev. Keung Lee, the senior minister who is in his 30th year as pastor and joined the church 48 years ago while a student at Ohio State University, said the building under construction east of the congregation's main structure represents an investment of slightly more than $2 million.

The building will be just under 13,000 square feet and should be completed by Christmas, according to Gary Armstrong, construction superintendent for Hanlin Rainaldi Construction.

"We have a lot of young people, Sunday school kids and youth groups," Keung said. "We have no space for them."

He said about 600 people typically attend Sunday services.

"For our church, particularly the young people or college students ... they will have joy for using the new building," said Kim Jundee, a secretary at the northwest Columbus church. "It's not just for physical activities. It's for mental and spiritual activities."

The new building will have what Keung termed a "middle-school-size" gymnasium.

"It's been going well," Armstrong said of the building project, which Keung said began about three months ago.

Keung said the new building would help with scheduling multiple Sunday services, the result -- in part -- of a separate English ministry.

"We need four chapels," he said.

The English ministry is a place for people of all ethnicities and backgrounds to come together to worship and learn about God, according to the Korean Church of Columbus website.

"We have not only Koreans," Keung said. "We have American brothers. Some, not many. Some Chinese. It's mainly Korean."

The church was started in 1969 by a small group of Korean students at Ohio State.

"The Korean population was very small," Keung said.

It still is, he said, at 4,000 to 5,000 people in Columbus.

In spite of that, Keung said, Columbus has about 15 Korean congregations.

"This one is the original," he said. "From this church, the others branched out."

The Korean Church of Columbus, 2825 Snouffer Road, is an independent church.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1