Organized by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and the National Council of Churches in Korea, the consultation also included representatives from the Canadian Council of Churches, United Church of Canada, World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula.
The consultation released a joint statement and action plan that recalls the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War (in 2020) and commits the churches of South Korea and the U.S. to participating actively in the “Korea Peace Appeal” campaign with the global church and civil society through July 2023, the 70th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement.
“Through the presentations and discussion, we shared the view that we are still facing the militarist and anti-peaceful reality of the division of the Korean Peninsula, but we issue this joint statement in the faith that God is with us in the midst of hardship and turmoil and in the hope of reconciliation and peace,” the statement reads. “We will consolidate all our efforts as agents of peace by confessing that when we let go of our hostility toward each other and share what we have in common with one another, then miracles of unity and reconciliation will be achieved and peace will come.”
Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, reflected that the consultation took place amid the major challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing political context in the USA. “I hope that this consultation and the reflections you engage in as representatives of the churches in South Korea and the USA will define a path forward in this new context,” he said. “Because in the midst of these changes, we have seen an unfortunate reversion to the status quo ante of isolation rather than cooperation, and confrontation rather than dialogue.”
In a keynote address, Rev. Dr Hong-Jung Lee, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea, reflected on the vision behind the consultation.
“Through this, we intend to respond to the will of the people for a historical transformation toward independence, liberation, and peace, which is passing and rising through the history of anti-life and anti-peace contradictions that have unfolded on the Korean Peninsula,” said Lee.
“We will develop a positive peace in our daily lives, strengthen the safety of the people's lives, dismantle the layers of the mindset of Cold War and division, and integrate them into a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness, so that the people of the Korean Peninsula will transform from being victims of division and war into a new jubilee creation governed by truth.”
Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, reflected that churches in the US should commit to ending the Cold War mentality and the military industrial complex that promotes confrontation over dialogue. He called for an active cooperation between two councils to build a sustainable peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.
"It is the role of the church of Jesus Christ to insist a course correction, on repentance for what has taken place and a pledge to move in a new direction. We can utilize our Councils as agents of peace and reconciliation and unity. This is moment to which God has called us,” he said.