This is one of a series of articles regarding the UBF chapter, El Camino UBF in Gardena, California.
In simple [UBF] terms, Shepherd’s Church [El Camino UBF] is a college student ministry that emphasizes Bible study. They are an official chapter of the Korean missionary-sending organization, University Bible Fellowship (UBF). Over the past five decades, the University Bible Fellowship has gained a reputation as being a cultic group, and many online articles from former members support this fact. The leader (‘pastor’) of this church is John Baik, who started this chapter in 2004, as a breakaway from Downey UBF. John Baik claimed to have had a vision from God in which he was instructed to establish 50 churches across the state of California. However, his desire to accomplish this vision is highly unlikely due to the fact that his church has had an ongoing problem of losing members. The explosion of online negative articles about his church has not helped with the recruitment numbers either.Before the decline there were roughly around 40 regular members (they are Bible teachers, and refer to themselves as ‘Shepherds’ for males and ‘Shepherdesses’ for females). This church is currently active is several colleges in southern California including El Camino College (in Torrance, CA), CSU Long Beach, CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Los Angeles, Los Angeles Harbor College, Cerritos College, Santa Ana College, Santa Monica College, Orange Coast College, USC [note: UBF has actually been banned from USC since at least 2007 if not earlier: http://web.archive.org/web/20070714021157/http://exubf.info/banned.htm], and Vanguard University. Shepherd’s Church has a well-known reputation throughout the UBF community for their excessive zeal for campus mission, as well as for their high recruitment numbers. For several years, they were able to collectively teach over 300 Bible studies every week! In 2010-2011, this church experienced its first major crisis, in which many of the original members left the church. The church went into a period of strong growth after this, reaching its peak by July 2016. Later that year, another crisis quickly unfolded at this chapter, resulting in many members also leaving. This chapter is currently experiencing stagnation, as they have struggled in recent months to find new members. This is mostly due to the constant stream of negative online articles about this church, as well as the presence of a large and vocal group of former ex-members. Another crisis is expected to occur in this chapter around 2020.