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Committee expresses solidarity with Korean church

The Global Ministries Committee, a joint venture with the Northwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Pacific Northwest Conference of the UCC, met in late January and worked together to establish goals and objectives for 2015.  

“Our committee is committed to helping educate, inform and inspire our local churches to become Global Ministries Partner Churches,” said Lon Rycraft, UCC co-chair and pastor at Normandy Park UCC.  “We welcome opportunities to visit churches and share some of the programs and work of Global Ministries around the world.

“I am constantly reminded what we do together makes a difference in peoples lives.  We bring hope and, most importantly, the opportunity to support our sisters and brothers around the world,” he said.

The Global Ministries Committee currently has outreach through partnerships with churches in the East Seoul Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Berlin Brandenburg Synod of the United Evangelical Church in Germany.  In addition, it is currently supporting missionaries, like Kim and Eric Free who are serving in Mozambique.

Learning at the recent meeting that on Dec. 22, about 60 60 Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) intruded into the Mintongsun Peace Church in Gimpo (part of Seoul), member Jim Spraker encouraged the committee to send a letter to the Rev. Lee Jeok, the pastor.  Police searched the church compound and day care center for 10 hours, taking down the cross and dismantling the altar.

The letter said that the pastor and church have been working in solidarity with the local people in opposing the reconstruction of the Aegibong tower that has provoked conflicts between North and South Korea.

The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) called it “repression of the freedom” to accuse the pastor’s peace work of being “anti-state activity.”  The council  called for the Seoul police to apologize.  On Jan. 30, police visited the NCCK headquarters and made an official apology.

On behalf of the regional Global Ministries Committee, Jim and Lillian Moir, the Disciples co-chair, composed the following letter to Rev. Jeok.

“The Global Ministries Committee of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ in Northwest Washington State heard with great sorrow about the intrusion by the Seoul Metropolitan Police into your church.

“We recognize how painful this event was and remains for you and your members. We pray that you will remain steadfast in your mission of peace and reconciliation. Denial of your freedom to practice your faith and mission affects all your brothers and sisters in Christ. When one suffers, we all suffer.

“We believe that the church is a sacred place for Christian people and the place from which mission begins. When we allow that mission to be trampled upon, all of us are in danger of the same treatment.

“We appreciate the apology received from the SMPA, but that does not diminish the pain you feel.  In spite of the apology, the issue of the freedom of mission remains unresolved. 

“The Christian Church has often been a voice for peace and reconciliation in the midst of conflict. We support all who work for the resolution of conflict and who seek peace. The Mintongsun Peace Church has been such a voice and we support you in that effort.”

Lon and Lillian signed as co-chairs of the Global Ministries Committee.

Lon recently reported that they received a quick response to their letter from the Mintongsun Peace Church and the National Council of Churches in Korea.

The Mintongsun Church replied: “I believe Global Ministries gives peace a chance and is life changing.  Your continuing support and prayers are a testament to our ministry together!”

The NCCK wrote:  “On behalf of the NCCK, we would like to thank you for the letter that you sent. It strengthens our resolve when we hear that fellow Christians half a world away are concerned and praying for our cause.

“The Rev. Lee Jeok was also grateful and encouraged by your letter and hopes for continued thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Lon cited this exchange as one example of how the Global Ministries Committee invites members of congregations in the conference and region to “imagine what is possible!”

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Copyright February-March 2015 © Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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