By Robin Gomes
Ahead of the much anticipated April 27 summit between North and South Korea in Panmunjom, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) is calling on Christians around the world to pray for a successful outcome.
The NCCK is asking people to say a prayer for peace every day at noon for one minute until Friday’s summit, the first in more than a decade.
Besides, the NCCK is also inviting its members to hold a special prayer service between 23-27 April. And on the day of the summit, it is inviting those able to forgo their breakfast or lunch as a fasting prayer. The NCCK Reunification Committee will visit Imjingak Reunification Observatory near the border with North Korea to mark the day.
On 29 April, the Sunday after the summit, the NCCK is asking its member Churches to hold a special offering for peace and inter-Korean exchange projects.
On April 19, the NCCK held an ecumenical worship for peace on the Korean Peninsula at Yeondong Presbyterian Church in Seoul, which an estimated 400 people attended.
Progress on the nuclear front between the Koreas is seen as a possible way for a possible first summit between North Korea and the United States, a prospect greatly welcomed by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC).
“The World Council of Churches (WCC) welcomes the recent initiatives to establish meaningful and constructive dialogue between the United States of America and North Korea,” wrote WCC General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit in a statement on April 19.
A possible US-North Korea summit is being planned at the end of May or the beginning June.
The WCC particularly welcomed US President Donald Trump’s “expressed support” for the two Koreas “to discuss the end of the war” during their April 27 summit.
After the Japanese surrender in 1945, the U.S. and the Soviet Union had provisionally divided the Korean peninsula along the 38th parallel. However, when China, Great Britain and the US recommended a plan to reunify the peninsula in 1947, the Soviet Union refused to cooperate. Soon with tension building between the divided peninsula, the north invaded the south 1950, an aggression that was repulsed by the allies. The war ended in 1953 with a truce, but not a peace treaty. Hence the two neighbours are technically still at war.
Tveit said that the WCC and its partners in South and North Korea have “repeatedly and consistently called for a peace treaty” to definitively conclude the “suspended state of war” and enable peaceful coexistence on the Korean peninsula. He said that the WCC feels encouraged that the “long-overdue step” is finally being recognized in ending the “tragic unresolved conflict” that has “poisoned relations in the region for a long time.
While encouraging all parties to continue on the new path pf peace, the WCC invited Christians and people of good will around the world to support all efforts to ease tensions, support all efforts to ease tensions, sustain hope and promote peaceful coexistence on the Korean peninsula.