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at the PROK

The relationship between the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea and the United Church of Canada goes back a long time—even before either church had been institutionally formed, back to 1898, when mission personnel from the Presbyterian Church in Canada first arrived in Korea. And since then the United Church has maintained a continuous presence in Korea through some of the most difficult times in Korean history—the long years of the Japanese occupation, the war years, the military dictatorships and the struggle for democracy.
My role here, first of all, is to embody that relationship just by my presence here on the ground, and secondly, to offer my gifts and skills to support the PROK in its ministry here in Korea and beyond.
The PROK is very committed to ecumenical partnerships as part of its core identity, working with partners both in Korea and abroad to respond to the needs of the world. This really hit home for me this year when I was attending the pre-assembly on Jeju Is…

PROK 103rd General Assembly, September 17-20

I arrived in Korea just in time to be whisked off to Jeju Island for the 103rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, which took place at the Haevichi Resort in Seogwipo-si. Actually, it started with the Pre-Assembly from September 14-17 under the theme Beyond Unification: Asia-Pacific Peace-Zone Consultation. Guests from partner churches in Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America were invited to this consultation to engage with the PROK in discussion about the past, present, and future of the church on the path of the pilgrimage to peace. Discussions were lively and eye-opening, especially the theme presentation by Rev. Dr. Hiheon Kim on Embodying 'Mission and Ecumenism from the Margins' in Transformative Solidarity, which got the discussion rolling.

After the consultation we relocated to Haevichi to take part in the opening of the General Assembly, along with 666 Korean delegates from the 28 Presbyteries of the PROK.

Here I am, along with several…

. . . from Canada to Korea: eleven hours later, sixteen hours ahead . . .

This is Seongsan Ilchulbong—sunrise peak—a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. It is a geological formation that has been standing off the coast of Korea’s Jeju Island since a volcanic eruption at least 40,000 years ago.

I, on the other hand, have been here only a couple of weeks. Climbed the peak last week with some folks who were here as international guests to attend the PROK’s 103rd General Assembly, held on Jeju Island this year.

We were suitably impressed, just hiking to the top, but it is even more spectacular from the air:

By coincidence, this coincided with the visit of South Korean President Moon to North Korea, September 18-20. It is hard to appreciate just how monumental this event is, because it is not yet clear what will come of it, if anything, but the Korean people are hopeful, as you can see from this huge banner suspended outside Seoul City Hall, which says something like: the summit between South and North Korea that changed the Korean peninsula.
An exciting time to be …