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The meeting closed with a worship service on 8 July in Bethanienkirche, Leipzig, Germany.Photo: Marianne Ejdersten/WCC

The meeting closed with a worship service on 8 July in Bethanienkirche, Leipzig, Germany.Photo: Marianne Ejdersten/WCC

In a moving worship service on 8 July in Bethanienkirche, Leipzig, Germany, a pastor from North Korea - Rev. Kang Myong-chol, Chair of the Korean Christians Federation and a pastor from South Korea - Rev. Kim Young-ju, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea presided over Holy Communion together, closing a meeting that underscored the need for urgent ecumenical responses to the dangerously escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of the United Methodist Church USA, offered a sermon that reflected we can no longer live as though other’s lives are of no concern to us.

“We who follow Jesus are connected because God has brought us together,” said Bishop Jung, who also serves as president of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. “We’re connected to God, to Jesus, to each other. Our lives are connected – whether we like it or not.”

Jung’s words officially closed a meeting of the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula (EFK) held in Leipzig, Germany on 7-8 July. Thirty-two people from churches and related organizations from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea and seven other countries took part in the meeting, which was hosted by the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The EFK, convened and moderated by the WCC, was launched in 2006 as a network of churches, national councils of churches, mission organizations and church-related development agencies.

Becoming one with Christ starts with our own practice of unconditional acceptance of the other, and embracing them as our own kin, Jung said. “This mutual act of acceptance would be love and this will be entrance to the kingdom of God. Love them as they are. Rejoice in this loving relationship in God’s household.”

Love’s invitation is to turn a person’s life into a treasure hunt to find all that is lovable in that person’s life, he said. “It is a search to discover what lies beyond, behind, beneath the unlovely details.”

Jung and others at the meeting vowed to leave with a commitment to working together for peace and unity.

“We understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they destroy, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities,” he said. “We commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace.”


Across church families, across states: pledges for peace on the Korean Peninsula (WCC press release 12 July, 2017)

WCC Member churches in Korea

WCRC statement on the Korean peninsula 7 July, 2017

WCC statement on the Korean peninsula 11 June, 2017