The 8.15 Joint Prayer Worship for Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula was held at the Bong Su Church in Pyongyang with The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and The Korean Christian Federation (KCF).
For this, the NCCK organized a delegation of 19 people from member denominations and affiliated organizations, and they visited Pyongyang from August 13th(Wed) up to 16th (Sat).
The first steps toward this joint worship service began with the proposal of the Declaration on Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Busan Assembly, and then the process for action agreed upon at the Bossey, Switzerland International Consultation on Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
The National Council of Churches (NCCK) and the Korean Christian Federation (KCF), after the Bossey Consultation, held this joint worship prayer service at the Bong Su Church in Pyongyang keeping in mind the meaning of the 8.15 Week of Prayer for the Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula, which was adopted by the churches of the world.
The NCCK visited Pyongyang with a delegation of 19 people including member churches, member organizations, along with women and young adult representatives on August 13th – 16th. Especially, in accordance with all that had been significantly discussed from the WCC General Assembly and the Bossey Consultation toward the extension of the exchange of women and young adults between churches of South and North, each church included the participation of two representatives from groups of women and young adults respectively. Also there was a delegation of women from the KCF, so they sought the possibility of an exchange of women between the South and North; therefore they held a discussion on the movement for reunification and the exchange and cooperation of young adults from the South and North.
The Joint Prayer Meeting began with masters of ceremonies and Rev. Kang Myung Chul (Chairperson of the KCF) welcomed the NCCK delegation with a message of welcome for visiting Pyongyang during a difficult time. He said that still, we have been connected as one in Jesus Christ even though we have not had opportunities to have frequent meetings. Also he mentioned that our gathering has a very significant meaning for creating a peaceful atmosphere, as peace and reunification is the path toward life, while distrust and war is the path toward a ruined country. We should not forget that we are one people and one blood even if we are divided by foreign powers. He said that Jesus said there will be blessings for those who work for making peace in the Sermon on the Mount. So we Christians, who have a calling for peace and unification, should reject all machinations of war which conspire with foreign powers, and we should rise up for the peace and reunification of this country. And he emphasized that carrying out the 6.15 Declaration and the 10.4 Declaration is the way toward peace and the way that our people might live. And he wished that this joint meeting could beseech God so that the peace and reunification of God would be realized immediately in this country.
Rev. Kim Young Ju (General Secretary of the NCCK) expressed gratitude to the KCF for inviting the NCCK delegation. And he said that to have a joint prayer for the purpose of making harmony and peaceful reunification is particularly meaningful, especially today, which is the day that we were liberated from colonial control. And we should meditate on the fact that the true liberation will be completed only when we have realized the peace and reunification of the South and North. For a long time, the churches of South and North Korea have done their best to work for cooperation around peace and reunification. The churches of the world have also given support and solidarity along with the efforts of the churches of the North and South. This is a good thing, but we should remember that we ought to be making an effort on our own as well, independent of foreign powers. We should not forget that the division of Korea after liberation came about from more powerful countries following their own interests, and we had no power to overcome them at that time. The North and South governments, through the June 15th (6.15) Declaration and the October 4th (10.4) Declaration, set out the practical provisions for peace and reunification. However, we have unfortunately not been able to follow through on those agreements. In this reality, we should fulfill our role as apostles of peace, and our task is to uncover the stumbling blocks toward making peace.
Bishop Jun Yong Jai from the Korean Methodist Church (KMC) preached a sermon titled, “From my Hands We Become One,” based on Ezekiel 37: 15-23; As the divided Judah in the South and Israel in the North became one people by the hands of God, so he believes that our country divided into the South and North will become one by the hands of God, and moreover he emphasized that we need more effort toward cooperation and exchange on behalf of peace and reunification.
Rev. Park Dong Il (President of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea) presided over the Eucharist where the South and North churches shared Holy Communion together as one community, and through this communion the people experienced becoming one, and they experienced reconciliation in Jesus Christ.
After that, Dr. Lee Un Sunn from Sejong University and Rev. Kim Hye Suk (KCF) read together the 8.15 Joint South-North Prayer for Peaceful Reunification, which was adopted by the churches of the South and North. The Bong Su Church choir and the delegates from the NCCK performed a special hymn. Especially the choir and the NCCK delegates experienced becoming one through the singing of the hymn. After that, the Rev. Cho Hun Jung (Chair of the Reconciliation and Unification Committee) and General Secretary of the Korea YMCA, Nam Boo Won, and President of the Korea YWCA, Cha Kyung Ae, gave a congratulatory address, and then the worship finished with a blessing by the Chairperson of the KCF. Then, the NCCK delegation visited the Pyongyang Theological Seminary and the newly renovated Chil Gol Church.
The North and South Churches hope that through this South-North Joint Prayer, the efforts for healing, reconciliation, and reunification of the people will bear fruit.