Anglicans 'Tearing Down Barriers' in Korea

Anglicans from around the world are aiming to breakdown barriers at their peace conference in South Korea, according to the head of The Episcopal Church.

"We have gathered here to do just that, and to work at tearing down the barriers between us that make enemies," Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Friday at the opening Eucharist of Towards Peace In Korea (TOPIK), according to the Episcopal News Service.

"We are here to practice peace-making, to un-learn our ability to make war, to shape communities that seek peace and harmony rather than division."

The TOPIK conference, which concludes Tuesday, was first envisioned in response to a 2005 resolution from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the Anglican Communion's chief legislative body, which called for peace, reconciliation and reunification between North and South Korea.

The Nov. 16-20 forum held in Paju, South Korea, is just hours away from the demilitarized zone (DMZ), the heavily fortified dividing line between North and South Korea.

"This gathering can be a witness to that possibility (for peace)," said Jefferts Schori, noting that war-torn countries such as South Africa and Ireland where peace is taking hold.

"Wherever people begin to look for the image of God in people they would rather see as enemy, Zion emerges from the mist, and the nations begin to stream toward that holy mountain."

Jefferts Schori's sermon on peace opened the conference after the conclusion of a three-day peace trip to Geumgangsan, North Korea.

While in North Korea, members of the Anglican conference gave humanitarian aid in the form of building materials and medical supplies. Organizers said the aid was meant for the North Korean village On-Jeong, which was destroyed last year by floods.

The aid came primarily from Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) for the Anglican Communion parties along with Australia, the Korean Christian Movement, and Hyundai, a major corporation and developer in the region.

The Anglican Church of Korea wishes to begin a longer-term program of aid to the North, continuing beyond the end of the conference.

Archbishop Francis Park of the Anglican Church in Korea is chairing and organizing the event. He is joined by more than 100 South Koreans primates, clergy and lay leaders from throughout the Anglican Communion, including Australia, Cyprus, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Organizers hope the conference will support and encourage others working for peace in areas of conflict.

"May this gathering be invitation to see the image of God we all share, even when overlain by fear and enmity," said Jefferts Schori in her sermon. "May we be transformed in this meeting, so that we may go forth and transform the world."