12th Assembly 2009

Churches call to stop world war

If the churches don’t support the reunification of North and South Korea the result could be world war. That was the message from the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) the Rev. Park Soo Kil and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church or Korea (PCK) the Rev. Dr Cho Seong Gi both special guests of the 12th Assembly.

Mr Park said the PROK has sent messages to the UN General Secretary, the President of the United States and many other politicians and churches to ask them to change their heavy handed policy on North Korea.

“I also ask the world church, including the Uniting Church, to send peace messages to our government and to North Korea to prevent the war,” he said.

“We have to ask to change the strong anti-North Korean policy, the strong handed policy.

“If war broke out, it would be a world war.

“It will destroy all peace, not only in Asia but in the world. This is very dangerous.

“If the world churches support the Korean reunification and peace movement we believe it will really help the reunification process.”

Dr Cho’s had no doubt about the future needs of Korea.

“Reunification is possible because it must be possible,” he said.

“I believe God’s sovereignty over our country.

“In God’s plan, reunification is possible. This is the strong belief of Korean Christians.”

This October marks the 120th anniversary of the first Australian missionaries to Korea, a fact the Korean Christian churches and very proud of.

Dr Cho said the missionaries who travelled to Korea influenced society as well as the church.

He said the Christian churches in Korea are highly involved in ecumenical bodies around the world.

“Our church has to be a hope for people, this is very important.”

But the greatest challenge for the churches in Korea still lies ahead.

The PROK has what they call a “prophetic ministry” in Korean society

“After the new government regime started, we worried we would be regressing our democracy, especially with North Korea restarting their nuclear armament, our government and America tried to develop tension between South and North,” said Mr Park.

“We do our best to develop a peace movement.”

Dr Cho said the challenges for the PCK are multilayered including the churches recovering the confidence of society.

“The further responsibility is to overcome our dichotomy between conservative and progressive in politics, economics, as well as religion.

“The church has to find the integrity of the Gospel and do that in unity and harmony.

We have to develop harmony in society.

“We have to continually reform our church and have to be sure of spirit and share the gospel.”

Both Mr Park and Dr Cho said the church’s role was integral in the reunification of Korea and both have a vision for Korean Christian churches to play a part in the world ecumenical bodies, including a desire to host the World Council of Churches Assembly in 2013.

Mr Park said the PROK has a long history in the human rights and democracy movements in North Korea.

“We fought against the dictatorship government until the 1980s, when we got a democracy,” he said.

“That kind of experience and spirit is still alive in our denomination. That is why we continually protest to our strong-line government to change their policy.

“If North Korea is destroyed South Korea is not safe.”

According to Dr Cho it is up to all churches to help change the situation.

“The important thing is that the South Korean churches develop deep relationships with the North Korean church,” he said.

“Korean churches have to educate our people to understand what is peace, what is shalom.

“The churches have to do something to change the situation. WCC and many international and ecumenical organisations have to take an important role to change the situation in both the South and North government.”

“So the PROK will continually support North Korea. We will go together with the world church, especially the Uniting Church.”

Both churches support Uniting Church projects in North Korea and Dr Cho added much like in Australia, some Korean people have reservations about supporting projects in North Korea because they don’t want to be seen to support the regime.

He asked for the support of the Uniting Church in the bid to host the WCC meeting in 2013 as a strong global statement of support for the future of reunification for North and South Korea.