(This week the NCC hosted a delegation from the National Council of Churches in Korea. The delegation came to Washington, DC, to meet with White House, Congressional, and State Department leaders to advocate for a permanent peace treaty between North and South Korea. Below is the statement by Jim Winkler, given as part of a consultation between NCCK and US faith leaders:)
There have been many consultations between the National Council of Churches of Korea (NCCK) and the National Council of Churches in the USA (NCCCUSA) over the years. Many statements and resolutions have been issued. 30 years ago, the NCCCUSA Governing Board said, “As Christians we regard the need to overcome division not primarily from diplomatic or military perspectives, but rather from the side of a suffering, divided people whose pain we are coming to know well: we confess that we share responsibility for their plight and for this we are truly sorry.”
These words remain appropriate today. Since that statement was issued in 1986, the Berlin Wall has fallen and East and West Germany have been reunited. The US has reestablished diplomatic relations with Vietnam. The Cold War has ended, apartheid has collapsed in South Africa, and we have entered into a new era of relations with Cuba. A new wall has been erected by Israel against the people of Palestine. And, Korea remains divided and the prospects for a peace treaty remain dim.
We Christians know what long wars are all about. 2 Samuel 3:1 reads, “There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.”
That long war was filled with recriminations, accusations, and betrayals, as are all wars. It is exhausting to read accounts of the dispute between the houses of Saul and David. David’s reign was long, but it was not always peaceful.
We have experienced more than 60 years of war, sanctions, and tension in Korea. Despite our best efforts to bring about a peace treaty, we remain unsuccessful.
It occurs to me that the United States has been at war my entire life. Not only has the Korean War continued over all these years, but my country has invaded Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Iraq, Laos, and Cambodia, among others. We have carried out covert operations against countless nations and we have spent trillions of dollars on the military and on an enormous spy apparatus. We maintain more than 700 military installations around the world. The United States has been and is intent on global domination.
I live in a national security state, and Capitol Hill is the belly of the beast. Those of us meeting with you in this important consultation from the National Council of Churches and all the other denominations present have been seeking peace for Korea for a long time.
We confess we have been diverted many times from this task by other wars, such as those with Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, in these very rooms, we worked hard to stop those wars from taking place and to bring them to an end. We fully recognize the US remains a superpower and is plays a key role in helping bring peace to the Korean peninsula. We desire to work closely with you to strategically advocate for peace, and we deeply appreciate your presence which will help raise the awareness in Congress, at the State Department, and at the White House.
Formerly, we had the North American Coalition for Human Rights in Korea. Many people including my friends Pharis and Jane Harvey and George and Dorothy Ogle helped give leadership to the Coalition, but once the military dictatorship in the South ended and Kim Dae Jung was elected president we were not able to provide the grassroots support and funding needed to keep the Coalition alive.
Fortunately, the Asia Pacific Forum has been faithful in giving leadership on behalf of the NCC and its member communions.
I pray through this consultation we will again affirm our unity in Christ and our commitment to peace in Korea. We affirm that a more hopeful future will one day come to all of the people of Korea. We affirm the commitment of the churches to take a stand in solidarity with the Korean people and to take actions to support reunification and peace. We give thanks to God that in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God has promised a new humanity, in which we are no longer strangers to one another but citizens and members of the house of God, with Jesus Christ himself as the cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:14-20)