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Looking Back on covid year 2020

I must admit, I am glad to be turning the page on 2020. Nevertheless, looking back over the year, I see that quite a lot was accomplished. Here are a few of the highlights for me: It’s a little foggy to me now, but there was a part of 2020 that was not consumed by Covid-19. In January I took part in the PROK’s mission academy, which prepares members of the PROK for overseas mission work. Somehow I got recruited to sing in the group’s choir (apparently, this too is part of the work of a mission co-worker!) Early in the year I was also fortunate to visit the PROK congregation in Haenam, which is on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. Here I am being introduced to the congregation along with some of my colleagues from the General Assembly Office. Much of my work involves meeting people face to face. Here I am having tea with some representatives of the PROK’s women pastors' association in their office in Seoul. My home assignment in Canada, which was scheduled to take place from

COVID CHRISTMAS REFLECTION FOR ADVENT 2020

Writing about Covid is a little distressing. Here in Korea we are entering what seems to be a “third wave.” But trust the Koreans to turn it into an occasion for hope. Check out this ten-minute video of an amazing drone show that the Korean government put on a couple of weeks ago that highlights getting through the covid year 2020 as a great achievement: http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Society/view?articleId=191938 Inspired by the outlook I have experienced here in Korea, I prepared a short theological reflection on Covid-19 and Christmas for the PROK. Let me share it with you here as my Advent gift to you: When the first wave of coronavirus arrived earlier this year, I got through by bracing myself and trusting that things would eventually return to normal. But now that we have experienced it for several months now, I know that life is not going to go back to the way it was. What has changed? What have we learned? 1. We are all interconnected. This is not a cliché. From the first recor

Orange Shirt Day in Korea

Yesterday (September 30) was Orange Shirt Day in Canada, a time to remember the indigenous children who survived (and did not survive) the residential school experience in Canada.   In Korea, it was also the first day of the three-day thanksgiving festival, Chuseok. While many other people in Korea were celebrating with their families, I was celebrating Chuseok with a few of my mission co-worker colleagues living here in Seoul, and I took advantage of the opportunity to tell them a little bit about the history of the residential school system in Canada.   Usually when we get together we talk about the struggles in Korea or elsewhere in the world, and this gives me information and perspectives to relay back to people in Canada, but this time I found myself sharing information about Canada that my colleagues had very little awareness of.   And it is only in recent times that we in Canada have become fully aware of the extent and impact of the residential schools: for over a century the C

National Liberation Day

It's raining today in Seoul. These days there has been lots and lots of rain. It hasn't  affected  me too much, other than to get rather wet a few times, but it has caused serious problems elsewhere in the country. It is also national liberation day, marking the 75th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan in 1945. With coronavirus the celebrations are limited, but let me share with you this prayer from the National Council of Churches in Korea ( NCCK ), which is the final prayer in their 70-day prayer campaign for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula. God of mercy! As this year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from the Japanese colonial rule, we give you thanks for your marvelous gift of liberation. But the joy of liberation could not be fully celebrated for Christians in the North and South due to the Cold War relic of longstanding division and confrontation. Lord, have mercy on us!   God of justice!  The joy of liberation ended up bei

Korean War - 70th anniversary memorial

Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, which began on June 25, 1950. During the next three years at least three million people died, probably many more. More than half of the casualties were civilians, making it one of the most deadly wars in history. The fighting ended with a ceasefire in 1953, but no peace treaty was ever signed. Since then the two sides have continued in a hostile stalemate, divided from each other by the DMZ. Last week's destruction of the liaison office by North Korea indicates just how fragile any recent easing of the tensions has become. It is therefore an apt time to pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Last Saturday I travelled to the "White Horse Hill Korean War Memorial" at Cheorwon, which borders the DMZ, to take part in a peace convocation and march for peace organized by the PROK to mark the occasion.   Here is a video of the event on the WCC's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyrdI4q-