2020: Joint message calls for healing

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Joint message calls for healing wounds and a shared future for the Korean Peninsula
22 June 2020

A Joint Ecumenical Peace Message for the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War was publicly delivered on 22 June during a live-streamed event. Co-sponsored by churches and councils of churches around the world, especially from countries that participated in the Korean War, the message describes the Korean War as an '"appallingly destructive conflict" after which no peace treaty was ever concluded.

'Seven decades after this war began, it is time to acknowledge that it ended long ago,” the message reads. "New challenges to peace and stability in the region have arisen in the meantime, but we do not believe that the resolution of those challenges will be facilitated by keeping that'70-year-old conflict open."

The message also calls for suspension and cancellation of any further military exercises in the region. "We appeal for the fulfilment of the letter and spirit of all the agreements that had given so much hope of progress towards peace on the Korean Peninsula — in particular the Panmunjom Declaration of April 2018, the Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018, and the Singapore Joint Statement of June 2018," the message reads. "We pray for the realization of the vision of the Korean Peninsula as a nuclear-free zone, and a world completely free from the threat of nuclear weapons." 

Throughout 2020, the World Council of Churches, together with the National Council of Churches in Korea, has been observing a Global Prayer Campaign, “We Pray, Peace Now, End the War." All churches and Christians are invited to pray for the formal end to the Korean War and the replacement of the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty.

Following the public presentation of the Joint Ecumenical Peace Message, the Ecumenical Forum for Peace Reunification and Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula met to share information and analysis on current developments in the region, for mutual updating on relevant initiatives, and discussion of future plans.

“As Christians we are called to take bold new steps for peace” on the Korean Peninsula
22 June 2020

As members of the World Council of Churches (WCC) fellowship and national councils of churches gathered online on 22 June, they pledged to walk beside their sisters and brothers on the Korean Peninsula in their quest for peace.

While releasing an ecumenical message, they prayed and hoped aloud that, on the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the path to peace will at last be realized.

In his opening remarks, WCC interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr loan Sauca looked back at the conflict that destroyed millions of lives. "It is exactly in a moment such as this, that as Christians we are called to take bold new steps for peace," he said. uAnd so, we come together, from many countries around the world, to say that after 70 years, it is time to bring an end to the war that has lain always in the background of inter-Korean relations since that terrible conflict took place."

Rev. Dr Hong-Jung Lee, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Korea, expressed gratitude for all those who are seeking a new reality of peace in the context of the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.

Lee noted how the Korean Armistice Agreement has never led to a final peaceful settlement. Teople in the North and South have become antagonistic to strangers and against each other, deeply distorted by a cold war consciousness and culture," said Lee. "The division of the Korean Peninsula was the most reckless compromise between the USA and Soviet Union based on a short term tactical expediency rather than a long term strategic vision for the suffering people under the Japanese forceful occupation."

The division is a structural sin against God, Lee continued. "We, the people of God, cannot compromise our faith in Jesus Christ with any attempt to make any kinds of war, particularly nuclear war, which totally destroy God's face as seen in the faces of people and nature," he said.

In a prayer, WCC deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri expressed the ecumenical solidarity felt across the world. ,lWe have come together as the family of God because we believe that prayer unites us as God's children in this uncertain time," she said. l,God of reconciliation, as this year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the start of Korean War, we look back to the past."

Phiri also prayed for the future. "We ask you to comfort those who have been longing to meet their families since their separation 70 years ago," she prayed. l,Make us pilgrims together on the way to your kingdom, and strengthen us together in the mission of justice and peace to your world, through Jesus Christ, our Lord."

Ecumenical Efforts for Peace on the Korean War's 70th Anniversary was the focus of an online meeting among members of the Ecumenical Forum for Korea, the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) and regional church councils that also took place on June 22.

Rev Seungmin Shin of the National Council of Churches of Korea shared with participants in the meeting that during the Global Prayer Campaign for peace on the Korean Peninsula done in collaboration between NCCK and WCC, more than 40 prayers and testimonies have been posted. Many of them have been very inspiring, including a prayer from Palestine, and a testimony from an elderly Korean pastor whose father and brother were killed in North Korea. uWe sincerely appeal to all of you to keep the Korean people and the Korean Peninsula in your prayers. We encourage you to send in your prayers, so they can be shared worldwide", said Rev Shin.

Peter Prove, director of the WCC's CCIA commission, shared with the participants the initiative of the Joint Ecumenical Peace Message announced worldwide today. ,fWe invite churches and church councils to provide additional endorsements for the Peace Message for Korea, that will be presented with all signatories on June 25 — the date when the Korean war broke out 70 years ago".

Download Joint Ecumenical Peace Message (2020: English)

Download Joint Ecumenical Peace Message (2020. German)

Gemeinsame Botschaft ruft zu Heilung von Wunden und einer gemeinsamen Zukunft auf koreanischer Halbinsel auf
22. Juni 2020
Deutsche Fassung veröffentlicht am: 23. Juni 2020

Anlässlich des 70. Jahrestags des Beginns des Koreakrieges wurde im Rahmen einer Online-Veranstaltung am22. Juni, die live im Internet übertragen wurde, eine ökumenische Friedensbotschaft verlesen. Absender der Botschaft waren verschiedene Kirchen und Kirchenräte aus aller Welt, insbesondere aus Ländern, die an dem Krieg beteiligt gewesen sind. Sie bezeichnen den Koreakrieg in der Botschaft als einen „entsetzlich destruktiven Konflikt", den kein Friedensvertrag je beendet habe.

„Siebzig Jahre nach dem Beginn dieses Krieges ist es an der Zeit anzuerkennen, dass er lange vorbei ist", heißt es in der Botschaft. „Mittlerweile sind neue Herausforderungen in Bezug auf Frieden und Stabilität in der Region aufgekommen, aber wir glauben nicht, dass die Bewältigung dieser neuen Herausforderungen dadurch ermöglicht oder erleichtert wird, dass dieser 70 Jahre alte Konflikt wachgehalten wird.

Die Friedensbotschaft ruft zur Aussetzung und Einstellung jeglicher weiterer militärischer Übungen in der Region auf. „Wir rufen zur Umsetzung des Inhalts und des Geistes all jener Vereinbarungen auf, die so viel Hoffnung auf Fortschritte im Friedensprozess auf der koreanischen Halbinsel gemacht hatten 一 insbesondere die Erklärung von Panmunjom aus dem April 2018, die Erklärung von Pjöngjang aus dem September 2018 und die gemeinsame Erklärung von Singapur aus dem Juni 2018", heißt es in der Botschaft. „Wir beten für die Verwirklichung der Vision von einer koreanischen Halbinsel ohne Atomwaffen und einer Welt komplett ohne jede Bedrohung durchAtom waffen.

Schon seit Anfang des Jahres 2020 richtet der Ökumenische Rat der Kirchen zusammen mit dem Nationalen Kirchenrat in Korea unter dem Motto „We Pray, Peace Now, End the War" (Wir beten, Frieden jetzt, Krieg beenden) eine weltweite Gebetskampagne aus. Alle Kirchen und Christinnen und Christen sind aufgerufen, für das formelle Ende des Koreakrieges und die Ablösung der Waffenstillstandsvereinbarung von 1953 durch einen Friedensvertrag zu beten.

Nach der öffentlichen Präsentation der gemeinsamen ökumenischen Friedensbotschaft hat noch das Ökumenische Forum für Frieden, Wiedervereinigung und Entwicklungszusammenarbeit auf der Koreanischen Halbinsel getagt, um Informationen auszutauschen und die aktuellen Entwicklungen in der Region zu analysieren, sich gegenseitig über wichtige Initiativen zu informieren und Pläne für die Zukunft zu diskutieren.