Prayers are key of peace

Peace convocation at the Demilitarized Zone held by the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea. Photo: PROK, 2020.

We believe that the global prayer campaign for the Korean Peninsula will be a key of peace to open the gate to cultivate forgiveness and reconciliation, a fountain of peace to revitalize a global ecumenical solidarity, and a milestone of peace to end the war on the Korean Peninsula after 70 years.

Communication from the World Council of Churches (WCC) demands participation and transparency to build community by working, walking and praying together. Communication is vital for the WCC’s credibility. Communication deriving from the Latin “communicare” literally means “to make common,” i.e. to share or impart, and this is the clear mission of the WCC. The WCC’s communication work seeks to make common cause, share and work together – for a just world at peace.

We want to pray, work and walk together with our member churches and ecumenical partners. This vision guides the communication activities and the prophetic voice of the WCC. We want to pray for and with others. The power of prayer carries across church boundaries and national borders. Prayer must have a clear place in communication activities.

We want to work with colleagues, member churches and partners worldwide. We are local and global teams – regardless of church boundaries and national borders. Modern technology blurs such limits and creates a whole – for work and inspiration.

We want to walk together and share life, learning and stories with one another. Walking together for a while, listening and learning from others comprises an important part of communication activities. It entails vivid portrayals of church visits, solidarity visits, while providing a glimpse of church life at that location. This is part of the joint learning process: learning from and inspiring one another, while respecting differences. Creating conditions in which the prophetic voice can thrive – communication for everyone, minorities and marginalized, locally and globally.

Communication should reflect the soul and activities of the fellowship. In order to pursue credible communication, activities and communication must go hand in hand and provide adequate support to the core operation.

A leading official at the UN said once to me that the WCC has one of the strongest platforms in the world for bringing about change and bringing hope to the world. This is probably true, as we represent 350 member churches from 120 countries or more than 580 million Christians. That is a huge platform. This list can be made quite long. With its networks and the trust it has gained, the WCC can work via its member churches, local churches and local pastors to make a difference and bring about change. This involves coordination, planning and timing. It involves using all the good forces that exist to promote collaboration.

Advocacy work and prayer are two components that go very well together. This is demonstrated by recent initiatives, which generated interest among hundreds of churches and partners around the world. A couple of years ago, we reached almost 70 million in social media with the prayer campaign to end famine.

The global prayer campaign is the request from the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), which held its 68th General Assembly at Jeongdong First Methodist Church in Seoul on 18 November 2019. The assembly decided to proclaim 2020 as a “jubilee year” marking 70 years since the start of the Korean War, and the NCCK also vowed to continue its efforts for a permanent and solid peace regime and reunification, declaring a formal end to the Korean War and replacing the Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty. The year will also celebrate the Korean Peninsula as a place of peace, prosperity, and reunification.

Since the 2013 WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, the WCC has renewed and strengthened its support for and commitment to increased ecumenical efforts for peace, reconciliation, and reunification of the divided Korean people.

The campaign will last from 1 March to 15 August, during which hundreds of thousands of people worldwide will say: “We Pray, Peace Now, End the War!”

The campaign began with a live-streamed event on 6 February 2020 hosted by the WCC in Geneva, with corresponding events the same day in Washington, DC, and Seoul.

Representatives from the Korean Christian Federation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and from the National Council of Churches in the Republic of Korea were invited to reflect on the significance of 70 years, and share their hope and prayers for the future. The campaign will also issue a clarion call for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula as part of a nuclear-free world.

A toolkit of resource materials, including prayers and Bible studies, will be available to bring a global dimension to the activities of the peace process, including advocacy material for social media plus a booklet.

During this period of prayer, churches around the world will hear the heartbreaking stories of those who have gone through the suffering from the division. They will also hear about the people who have already lived out lives of reconciliation and peace beyond the division.

Objectives of the Global Prayer Campaign:

  • To Pray: The Power of Prayers for Just Peace on the Korean Peninsula.
  • To encourage: churches all over the world to pray for peace, justice and hope on the Korean Peninsula.
  • To learn about: “peace, healing and reconciliation of Korea” and its connectedness to the global peace issues.
  • To raise attention: to the wounds of the victims of the Korean War and the division system.
  • To develop: a “peace sensitivity” and search for ways to enhance global ecumenical solidarity among the churches worldwide.
  • To end the war on the Korean Peninsula.

Each year, since 1984, the WCC invites Christians and others to join in a prayer for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The prayer is traditionally used on the Sunday before 15 August every year.

Communication as a nonviolent approach

Communication is a multifaceted concept. For the WCC, communication is a key part of its peace-making work, in terms of using communication as a nonviolent method for fostering trust and confidence between different groups. Communication for change is an important method and strategy. This imposes demands on the communicators. Let us remind ourselves that the ecumenical movement is a movement of love, which means that its communication is to be characterized by love, care and thought, and that relationships are more important than everything else. It builds trust. The core of the work involves participation and, most of all, hope. Our task is to ignite hope for a better world where human dignity prevails.

It was with a humble heart I accepted the request from Rev. Dr Lee Hong-jung, general secretary of the NCCK, to coordinate with my colleagues the global prayer campaign on Korean Peninsula.

I have a passion for peace, justice and communication. I believe that we are all able to make a difference in the world and I believe in the power of prayers and communication.

I believe in peace on the Korean Peninsula. I believe that we are able to come to an end of the 70-year long war.  We Pray, Peace Now, End the War!

“Blessed are the peace makers, for they will be called children of God” (Matt 5:9 NRSV)

About the author :

Marianne Ejdersten was appointed as director for Communication at the World Council of Churches in November 2014. Coming from the Church of Sweden (Lutheran), Ejdersten holds more than 25 years of professional experience in the fields of communication, media, marketing, fundraising and management, both with the churches and international ecumenical organizations.

Ejdersten has authored a number of articles published in several publications across the globe. She was co-author of The Churches and IT, a publication of the Church of Sweden and a special report titled Women and Internet.

Ejdersten and her team were honoured with the Grand Prix and Gold EPICA 2009 award for conducting the best integrated and interactive campaign "The Prayer" in Europe, as well as the Swedish Publishing Award for reporting in 2012, among other honours she has received for her work in the field of media.

The WCC  was honoured as a top non-governmental organization for its work during 2020, receiving a second-place Geneva Engage Award on 18 February for effective and inspiring social media outreach and engagement.

Ejdersten has been the president of the Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SweFOR) and vice president for the European branch of the Word Association for Christian Communication. Currently serving as the president of the interim church board in the Church of Sweden in Switzerland. 

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The impressions expressed in the blog posts are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.