Reformed Head: Justice Key to Korea Peace Efforts

Issues of justice need to be addressed in order to have successful peace and reconciliation initiatives for the Korean peninsula, contended the head of the global Reformed Church body this week.

Topics such as the right to free association and access to food and education need to be included in peace initiatives, said Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, to a global gathering of peace advocates and academics at Youngnak Presbyterian Church in Seoul, South Korea.

"Providing charity alleviates some of the symptoms but we need much more than that," Nyomi stressed to the more than 100 participants from 51 countries, on Wednesday. "We need a clear commitment to justice for all."

The leaders from around the world were gathered for a four-day seminar on peace and reconciliation held in honor of Youngnak Church's founding pastor, Kyung-Chik Han. Han is originally from North Korea and had dedicated his career to seeking reconciliation between the two Koreas. This year marks the tenth anniversary of his death.

Nyomi during his presentation also called for the strengthening of contacts between the church in North Korea and the church in the South.

"Efforts at annual prayer meetings … and the development of common prayer give us a glimmer of hope," he commented.

Earlier in the week, participants of the seminar went to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a buffer zone that separates North and South Korea. The zone was created through the Korean War Armistice Agreement in 1953. What was intended to be a temporary measure of truce remains in place today with no peace treaty ever signed. During a ceremony at the Songak Prayer House overlooking North Korea, international representatives offered prayers for the countries.

About 29.2 percent of the population of South Korea is Christian, with the majority of believers being Protestant Christians. It is unclear how many Christians there are in North Korea. The state-controlled Korean Christian Federation, a Protestant organization, reportedly has 12,000 members. Open Doors, however, estimates that there are some 400,000 underground Christians in North Korea.

WCRC was created in June 2010 through a merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council. Its 230 member churches represent 80 million Christians worldwide.