- (Photo: Joanna Lindén-Montes/WCC)
Hundreds of attendees of the World Council of Churches' Tenth Assembly participated in a "pilgrimage of peace" taken in the 60th year since the armistice that ended the combat phase of the Korean War was signed.
An estimated 800 WCC participants joined the peace pilgrimage on Saturday, calling for the unification of the Korean Peninsula after generations of tensions between the North and South.
The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, said in a statement that "peace on the Korean peninsula is possible without hostilities."
"The fact that the assembly is being held in Korea is from our perspective an expression of the hope of the worldwide church and churches in Korea for pursuing peace and reconciliation," said Tveit.
The pilgrimage involved participants travelling to the Bell of Peace, which is located in Imjingak, a location near to the North Korean-South Korean border that includes multiple monuments dedicated to the 1950s conflict.
Dr. Jeffery Cooper, who is general secretary and CIO for the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which is a member church in the WCC, told The Christian Post that while AME's delegates to the Tenth Assembly could not attend the pilgrimage, they were in full support of its mission and goals.
"Christ tells us in the Bible, 'Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God'," said Cooper. "The goal of the pilgrimage for peace – to help end a conflict dividing one people – is laudable and in keeping with Christian ministry."
WCC delegates met in Busan, South Korea, for the international organization's Tenth Assembly, from Oct. 30 until Nov. 8. A theme for the Assembly will be the Korean word "Madang."
"Madang is the traditional Korean 'courtyard' connecting different parts of a house; a space for discussion, deliberation, celebration and fellowship; a traditional center of family and community life," reads an entry on a WCC website.
"The WCC assembly will be prepared in a spirit of madang, inviting participants into a common space of discussion and celebration."
WCC Assemblies occur about once every seven years, with the first taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1948.
WCC's call with other groups for unification of the Korean Peninsula comes as the communist North appears to be getting closer to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile. Weapons experts stated on Tuesday that Pyongyang missiles used in recent military parades appear to be "scary good," reported Allison Jackson of globalpost.com.
Cooper of the AME told CP that he felt the WCC could aid in spreading awareness of the issues in Korea and help lead the way for a "just and lasting peace."
"The WCC could play an important role in focusing the attention of Christians around the world on this long-standing situation," said Cooper. "The WCC may be able to serve as an interlocutor in areas where traditional channels of diplomacy are unable to go – always mindful of the end goal of a just and lasting peace."