Delegations from South and North Korea were able to meet at the General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches in Leipzig. These meetings are part of a process of dialogue for peace and reunification.
by Laurence Villoz
“The Korean situation is extremely critical. We must find solutions and advance together towards unification,” said Yueh-wen Lu, a member of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, at the plenary focused on Korea in Leipzig. On Tuesday, 4 July, at the General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), North and South Korean delegates and specialists from Asia discussed the current situation in this country that is promoting peaceful dialogue.
“The cycle of confrontation with the United States is increasingly hostile. We are in a dramatic situation. In addition, sanctions against North Korea are unprecedented,” said Ri Jongo, a North Korean delegate from the Korean Christian Federation (KCF), who expressed his fear of a nuclear war.
“The state has a responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens. But as Christians, we can only say an unconditional ‘no’ to nuclear weapons,” said Paul Oppenheim, referring to a declaration signed by the German Protestant Churches in 1982. This former head of relations with the churches of Asia from the German Protestant Church (EKD) stressed the importance of creating a climate of trust between the two Koreas.
A dream of unity
“The division of Korea after the war was the worst compromise that the United States and the Soviet Union could find. This has engendered a despicable situation. We live in perpetual post-traumatic stress since the armistice,” said Pastor Lee Hongjung of the Presbyterian Church in South Korea. “But this division is the starting point for a transformation towards reconciliation. We must keep our dream: someday, the Koreans will be reunited. One day, the children of the North and the South will grow together in a world without nuclear weapons,” the Pastor hoped.
“In Germany, we know all your fears. Thirty years ago, we were still separated. We are ready to accompany you towards possible coexistence. The wounds of the Korean War have not yet healed, but I am convinced that the Communion can help you heal and reconcile Christians on both sides of the country. It is our duty to promote this reconciliation,” explained Lutz Drescher from the Ecumenical Forum for Korea.
The urgency of finding peace
Previously, on Monday, 3 July, the delegations of the North and the South met for an Agape meal service followed by lunch. At the meeting, KCF pastor Kang Myong Chol stressed “the urgent need to ensure true peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
“The world today shows that peace never comes by itself. As Christians, we must express concretely and continuously the Lord’s desire for peace by bringing up the Cross of Justice even higher,” said the pastor, who pointed out that for centuries Korea had lived in harmony, never invading other countries or violating the interests of anyone.
At the end of the service, Pastor Bohyug Suh, a professor at the University of Seoul, also presented a peace treaty, established in 2013 by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK). A petition was launched to support this treaty in the hope of achieving peace negotiations.
Since the 1980s, the WCRC, which brings together 233 churches from more than 100 countries, has contacts with the KCF, an official organization close to the North Korean government that organizes authorized Protestant worship. In September 2016, a WCRC delegation traveled to North Korea to pursue peace and reconciliation work and to provide humanitarian assistance.