Grace Mission University was founded in Los Angeles, California through the ministry of Pastor David Kwangshin Kim. Pastor David Kim founded Grace Korean Church in 1982 which now has a Sunday morning attendance of almost 6,000 people. From his dynamic leadership, the Presbyterian Church International General Assembly denomination, with its multitude of churches in the United States and worldwide was birthed. In 1995, Pastor David Kim, as the president of the denomination presented a vision of the United Presbytery sending 2,000 missionaries all over the world. A seminary was needed to fulfill this vision. Therefore, Grace Mission University, the higher educational arm of the Presbyterian Church International General Assembly, was founded to train Spirit-filled leaders for the Lord. This was so desirable to the Korean community that over 60 students transferred into GMU in the first year.
In 1996 recognition was obtained from the State of California to offer a formal diploma under the provision allowed by the California Educational Code. On May 10, 2000, the first class of fourteen students graduated. GMU has had thirteen graduating classes since 1995. In Spring 2012, GMU had nine BA graduates and fifteen MDiv graduates. GMU is committed to providing quality educational training for persons God calls into His ministry. Thus, GMU’s focus is upon providing professional baccalaureate and graduate professional theological education to those called to or currently participating in vocational ministry.
GMU greatly benefits from its founding church, Grace Korean Church. Through it Grace Mission University has significant access to quality assistance in financial management, human resources, physical facilities, and financial support. In July 1, 2002, GMU moved from Anaheim to the Miracle Center in Fullerton, Orange County with its Korean population of 0.3 million. With the growing Korean immigration in the U.S. today, many Koreans are moving to Los Angeles including Orange County. Since most of these first generation Koreans do not speak English fluently, there is the need for a Korean-speaking accredited Christian higher education institution. GMU is focused on providing theological and ministerial development for its constituents among the 0.6 million Korean residents in Los Angeles.
The target audience for GMU has been adult learners who are already in ministry. Because of this constituency, there has been a special emphasis on evening classes and distance education courses. GMU offers six-degree programs: the BA in Theology, MA in Christian Education (MACE), MA in Intercultural Studies (MAICS), Master of Divinity (MDiv), Doctor of Missiology (DMiss) and Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies. About 30% of the students come from The Presbyterian Church International General Assembly (PCIGA). Most of these churches also send monthly donations to Grace Mission University. Perhaps 20% of the students come from unrelated local churches. The PCIGA is related to a larger denomination in Korea (Bosu Hapdong). Bosu Hapdong is the 6th largest number of the 60 Presbyterian denominations in Korea and provides the largest of students to GMU.
Milestones in our development are as follows:
- December 26, 1995 – GMU registered with the State of California as a 501 c-3 non-profit organization
- January 8, 1996 – Inaugurated Rev. See Gon Lee as president, Dr. Spencer Sutherland and Dr. Soo An Kim as vice presidents, and Rev. Sung Hoon Hong as academic dean.
- February 5, 1996 – Inauguration ceremony for Grace Mission University
- May 10, 1996 – Approved with BPPE (State of California) to operate as a religious exempt university
- January 1, 1998 – Inaugurated Dr. David Kwangshin Kim as president
- October 1, 2000 – Inaugurated Dr. Young Kyu Ryu as president
- February 1, 2002 – Inaugurated Dr. David Kwangshin Kim for a second term as president
- July 1, 2002 – Moved from Anaheim to the Miracle Center in Fullerton
- February 2, 2006 – Inaugurated Dr. Kyunam Choi as academic dean
- November 1, 2008 – Inaugurated Dr. Hyunwan Kim as third academic dean
- April 2009 – Award of candidate status with TRACS
- February 2010 – Award of candidate status from Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
- July 1, 2011 – Inaugurated Dr. Donghyun Huh as student dean
- October 30, 2011 – Award of membership status with Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
- April 2012 – Award of accredited status with Transnational Association of Christian Collages and Schools (TRACS)
- June 2012 – Award of Associate membership status with Association of Theological Schools (ATS )
- February 2013 – Award of Accredited status from Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
- January 2013 – DMiss Program accredited by Transnational Association of Christian Collages and Schools (TRACS)
- Feb. 2015 – Award of Candidate membership status with Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
- June. 2016 – Award of accredited status with Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
- October. 2016 – Inaugurated Dr. Kyunam Choi as president
- May 2017 – Award of 10 years reaffirmation accredited status by Transnational Association of Christian Collages and Schools (TRACS)
- July. 2018 – Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies Program is accredited by Transnational Association of Christian Collages and Schools (TRACS)