As people in Seoul held a candlelight vigil on 7 June to pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula, they were joined by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), and hundreds of others across the world.
In downtown Seoul, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) co-led a candlelight prayer service for the success of the coming Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)-USA summit scheduled for 12 June.
The service began near Seoul City Hall with prayers, singing, readings, and a message given by Rev. Han Ki-yang, who discussed the need for the world to follow Koreans as they seek to bridge the divide of the conflict through respectful dialogue and mutual assurances of security.
Ki-yang noted that some are seeking to block such efforts through accusations and condemnation of the other, and encouraged people to courageously share a message about the need to drop hostile threats and persuade national leaders to seek peace through building mutual trust.
The prayer service in Seoul concluded with a candlelight prayer march from City Hall to the front of the US Embassy near Gyeongbokgung Palace. The NCCK asked its partners to continue praying in solidarity for a successful outcome of the DPRK-US summit.
Simultaneously, in Geneva, Switzerland, staff and friends of the WCC gathered in the Ecumenical Centre chapel in prayerful solidarity at noon to express solidarity with their sisters and brothers in Korea.
In Geneva, prayer cards were distributed with a design, drawn from the flag used in the Pyungchang Olympic games, to symbolize a unified Korea.
In the USA, the NCC also drew people together the same day in Washington, DC for prayer and reflection.
“Today we gather for peace and diplomacy,” said Christine Ashley, field secretary for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “Thank you, National Council of Churches in Korea, for the worldwide leadership that our friends in Korea are now showing us in these times.”
Rev. Dr Maidstone Mulenga, director of Communications for the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, said: “Today as we offer prayers for peace on the Korean Peninsula, those of us in the United Methodist Church stand with the rest of the world in praying for peace.”
The effort for peace in Korea goes back decades, reflected Jim Winkler, NCC president and general secretary. “The churches in this country, along with those in Korea and all over the world have been active presences in this cause,” he said. “We have prayed simply - and some would say idealistically - for peace but we have also worked at the sophisticated levels in developing proposals for peace, in holding conferences, in meeting with governments, in refusing to demonize ‘the other.’ ”