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Looking back 2019

What exactly do you do over there in Korea?—is a question that people keep asking me. Little do they know how complicated the answer to this question is! My primary work (when I’m not in class) is to assist with English language communications in the Department of Partnership and Ecumenical Relations in the General Assembly Office of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (that is, PROK).

Our work in the department involves connecting the church in Korea with the church all over the world, and the main language that we use to do this is English. As important as helping with this work is, it is not actually the heart of what I do. At the heart of what I do are all the relationships that I am a part of here in Korea and elsewhere as I make connections with folks at multiple levels of Korean society. In one situation this means one thing, in other situations it means other things, so I am constantly finding myself doing new things, playing new roles, and meeting new people (as well as deepening already-established relationships). But it all comes back to the United Church of Canada being in partnership with the PROK to support the ministry that the PROK does here in Korea and elsewhere in the world.

As I look back over the past year, I see thousands of ways in which this look place. Let me show a sample with a few images.
meeting with the planning team for the mission homecoming conference held by the PROK for their mission co-workers who work in other countries—currently there are more than 70 mission co-workers working in over 23 countries

… “Monday Night Group” gathering of mission co-workers in Seoul—we all work with different agencies and denominations but we meet monthly to support each other and share information and perspectives

attending a mass baptism service for young military personnel in the Republic of Korea Army

the 104th General Assembly of the PROK: sharing of greetings

… meeting young adult volunteers from PC(USA) at the General Assembly

… Sunday morning worship service at Sumdol Church marking International Transgender Day of Remembrance

… ongoing congregational work throughout the year—connecting with the children in the English language worship program at Hanshin Church

… picking up my colleague Thomas (from Disciples of Christ, USA) at the airport and bringing him to his new house

… NCCK (National Council of Churches of Korea) worship service in recognition of the plight of refugees and migrants

… mission co-workers discussing the political situation in Korea

… human peace chain across the DMZ in April to mark the first anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration of 2018 (the first summit between Chairman Kim of North Korea and President Moon of South Korea)

… Grace, a volunteer from USA, working in the General Assembly Office

… PROK prayer vigil for peace on the Korean peninsula at Gwanghwamun Square outside the American Embassy

… following the event, I received a spontaneous dinner invitation from members of  a congregation who had been participating, and made some new friends

… youth empowerment conference hosted by the PROK for the North East Asian Area Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches: young people from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea sharing stories and strategies for how they can make a contribution to the challenges facing their societies
… taking international guests on a tour of the DMZ—here looking out towards North Korea from the DMZ

… meeting with the planning team for the Hanshin English language worship program

… representing the United Church of Canada at the 60th anniversary of the founding of Wonju Severance Christian Hospital, November 1959. Pictured here with Dr. Margaret Storey, who began her work in Korea in 1959, and continues in her retirement.

… preparing to tour Gyeonbokgung Palace with visitors from the Pacific Mountain Region of the United Church, in full Korean traditional dress—here in Korea as guests of Gyeonggi Presbytery