A global prayer campaign for peace on the Korean Peninsula will occur from 1 March – 15 August, lasting 70 days and inviting hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to say: “We Pray, Peace Now, End the War!”
The campaign will begin with a preliminary live-streamed event on 6 February hosted by the World Council of Churches (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 will be invited to reflect on the significance of 70 years, and share their hope for the future. The campaign will also issue a clarion call for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula as part of a nuclear-free world.
“The ongoing 1945 division and the unfinished 1950 Korean War have become a socio-geopolitical ‘original sin’ against Korean people’s life security,” said Rev. Dr Hong-Jung Lee, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea. “In our daily lives, we concretely experience the division and war as a sin against God, humanity and nature, and as a paradigmatic reaction in violation of the divine covenant for building a life-abundant Korean oikoumene. We believe that the prayer campaign will be a key of peace to open the gate of God’s grace, a breath of peace to cultivate forgiveness and reconciliation, a fountain of peace to revitalize a global ecumenical solidarity, and a milestone of peace toward the God-recreating Korean oikoumene.”
WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit underlined “This is the time to remember the 70 years without peace for the Korean people. The many who have suffered from this situation, the many who have died without seeing peace, the many who continue to thirst and long for peace - they all will be in our prayers at this time. Prayers bring the deepest desires for God’s transforming grace, prayers shows the highest form of solidarity with one another, and prayers widen the embrace among us.” He added “ May God of life give the churches around the world to pray together for the Korean people these days!”
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, “70 stories of Love, Justice and Peace.”
The significance of 70 days
The 70 days of prayer correspond with a commemoration of 70 years since the Korean War, and religious leaders worldwide will pledge to redouble their ongoing efforts for stronger peace and reunification. On 18 November 2019, the National Council of Churches in Korea held its 68th General Assembly at Jeongdong First Methodist Church in Seoul. Those gathered decided to proclaim 2020 as a “jubilee year” marking 70 years since the Korean War. The National Council of Churches in Korea 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.
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.
Each year, Christians are invited to join in a prayer for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Prepared by the National Council of Churches in Korea and the Korean Christian Federation, the prayer is traditionally used on the Sunday before 15 August every year.
The 15th of August, celebrated as Liberation Day in both North and South Korea, marks the date in 1945 when Korea won independence from Japanese colonial oppression, yet ironically it also was the day when the peninsula was divided into two countries.