A Call for Peace and Reunification on the Korean Peninsula
By Thomas Kemper*
A just and lasting peace in Korea and the reunification of South and North are long-standing priorities for The United Methodist Church and Global Ministries. Ecumenical prayers for these objectives are annually observed in mid-August, and this year we appeal with special urgency to God for their attainment, as belligerent threats are exchanged between North Korea and the United States.
Global Ministries joins with the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance, and the World Communion of Reformed Churches in designating Sunday, August 13, 2017, as a day of prayer for peace in the whole of Korea. We urge United Methodist congregations and individuals to join in those prayers. We also join in this ecumenical appeal for dialogue and engagement, not threats and sanctions, to bring peace and reconciliation to Korea.
On March 13, 2017, Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, president of Global Ministries, and I participated in the dedication of The United Methodist Church’s Asia regional office in Seoul, Korea. Global Ministries opened its office in Seoul aware of the potential dangers and with an openness toward playing a role in working toward peace. After the dedication we visited partners and leaders from the Korean Methodist Church, World Methodist Council, and National Council of Churches in Korea. In response to the many questions we received concerning the Trump administration and Global Ministries’ role in Korea, we filmed this short video. We share it here today:
International peace with justice is an overarching objective of The United Methodist Church, as expressed in the above video and in denominational statements, and is explained in a new release on the Korea impasse from the denomination’s General Board of Church and Society.
The Christian communities of South Korea are deeply troubled by the rising tensions within the peninsula. An early August letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-In from the head of the National Council of Churches in Korea expressed alarm at the North’s ICBM launches, nuclear tests, and threats against the South. The letter also expresses concerns about the U.N. sanctions against the North and the declaration by U.S. President Donald Trump that the North could face “fire and fury, one never witnessed by the world.” In response to the latter, the North threatened to strike Guam, a U.S. territory, and Seoul with long-range missiles.
The United Methodist Church has been a presence in Korea since the 1880s and possesses strong links to current mission partners there, including the vital Korean Methodist Church mission that became autonomous in 1930.
Today, Global Ministries remains committed to facilitating work toward a peace treaty and reunification in Korea.
We have a Global Mission Fellow, Arsene Lumami, who is serving for two years as an educator at the Border Peace School in the town of Cheorwon on the border between North and South Korea. In addition, Trisha Manns is serving for two years as the justice, peace, and reunification associate with the National Council of Churches in Korea.
Together let us lift our voices with Korean brothers and sisters on August 13 and pray:
God, who gives hope, enable us to dream once more of a beautiful land where no joint-military exercise is needed. Let us welcome a new world where peace prevails and let us walk hand in hand toward reunification. Lord, let the North and South greet each other without prejudice. Help us newly begin a history of reconciliation on this land.
*Thomas Kemper is the General Secretary of Global Ministries.