(Photo courtesy Rev. Chang-bae Byun, Ecumenical Secretary for Ecumenical Relations and Planning of the Presbyterian Church of Korea.)
Two Presbyterian Churches have called upon Christians to engage in a "season of prayer" focused on the uncertainty found in the rising tension between North Korea and South Korea.
At a consultation meeting held last week, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK) issued a joint statement calling for a seasonal time of prayer that would take place during the summertime, from June 25 until August 15.
"For the people of the PCK, this season of prayer will be a time to remember the suffering of separated families on the Korean Peninsula; and to acknowledge that, since the partition of the peninsula, the Christian commitment to reconciliation has been compromised by the trauma of a fratricidal war; discipleship compromised by bitterness; and faithfulness compromised by fear and hostility," reads the joint statement in part.
"For the people of the PC(USA), this season of prayer will be a time to reflect critically on how the division of the Korean Peninsula, the unended Korean War, and the separation of families have harmed the Korean people and on what the historical roles of the United States have been in relation to the Korean Peninsula; and to call the United States government to implement a policy of peaceful engagement in relation to Korea."
The Rev. Robina Marie Winbush, Associate Stated Clerk for Ecumenical Relations for PC(USA), told The Christian Post that coordination between the two denominations predated the current peninsular tensions.
"The consultation between PCK and PCUSA was planned before the current tensions on the Peninsula escalated to the current tensions," said Winbush.
"However, in the opening address by the Moderator and General Secretary of the PCK, the urgency of the situation was highlighted and they requested a joint statement."
Winbush also told CP that PCK "had already called for a season of prayer within their churches" when this idea came to PC(USA) during the consultation.
"The PCUSA representatives considered this to be a tangible and productive invitation we could extend to our members, both as an act of solidarity and an opportunity to more fully understand the situation of our Korean sisters and brothers," said Winbush.
The dates for the beginning and end of the season of prayer are historically significant for Koreans above and below the 49th parallel. June 25 marks the anniversary of when the Korean War began in 1950 and August 15 marks the anniversary of when Korea was liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945.