International churches strengthen commitment to peace in Northeast Asia
To revitalize and strengthen the ecumenical commitment for justice, healing, reconciliation and peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula, the Ecumenical Forum on Peace in Northeast Asia was held from 11 to 13 September in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Gathering more than 120 representatives and leaders of churches and ecumenical institutions coming from various Christian traditions and from 20 countries in the global regions of Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, North and South America, the forum was organized by the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) and the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK).
Both the PCK and the PROK are member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC). Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, was among those who participated in the forum.
The forum responded to issues of faith, ethics, justice, people’s security, reconciliation and a peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. A strong message from the forum, issued on 12 September, stated: “The division of the Korean Peninsula and its human costs contradict God’s will for the fullness of life. It is a sin against God and humanity. The Church is called to transform itself and to engage in healing and reconciliation. However, without resolution of the Cold War hatred and enmities, including among Christians, the Church cannot contribute to peace with justice.”
The forum participants noted that the atmosphere of the Korean peninsula remains volatile. “Skirmishes continue to flare and provocative military exercises continue to generate widespread concerns and tension in a region that is particularly at risk by the preponderance of nuclear power and arms. Indeed, the division serves as a tripwire that threatens to engulf the Korean Peninsula and the region in a major conflagration. Peoples in Northeast Asia are longing for peace with justice; Korean reunification is an essential step in this process,” read the message.
“We take seriously the issues that affect the well-being of people who bear the brunt of the stranglehold of Empire—systems of military, political, economic domination which threaten peace in Northeast Asia and globally,” the forum participants stressed.
Forum participants actively committed themselves to involve their churches and ecumenical bodies in continuing initiatives for healing, justice, reconciliation and peace in Northeast Asia, and to the reunification of North and South Korea. Among their affirmations of these commitments were pledges to develop peace education and advocacy for peace and reunification; promote participation and leadership of women in justice and peace initiatives; support efforts to seek a final peace treaty that replaces the Armistice Agreement; and support ecumenical endeavors to contain nuclear power and arms. They also promised to encourage media to highlight peace issues in Northeast Asia.