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Presbyterian Peacemaking 2018 Travel Study Seminar under way in Korea

Participants to engage with partners, share experiences with US congregations

By Gregg Brekke | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Dancers perform at the Yongin Folk Village. Photo contributed

SEOUL — Set in the backdrop of a historic thaw of tensions between North and South Korea, the 2018 Presbyterian Peacemaking Travel Study Seminar begins today in Seoul, as eight participants tour important sites and meet with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partners engaged in the peace process. Mission co-workers Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger, along with Carl Horton, coordinator for mission with the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, will guide the group over 11 days as they continue to learn, experience, worship and reflect on continued peacemaking and reconciliation efforts on the peninsula.

Although not an official delegation of the PC(USA), in preparation for the trip the group studied recent General Assembly overtures related to Korea, including the 2018 recommendation Concerning Prayer and Preparation for Peace on the Korean Peninsula and a commissioners’ resolution on North Korean Refugees, and in 2016 an overture on the 1950 No Gun Ri massacre by US troops and a commissioners’ resolution on Peace, Justice and Reunification in Korea.

They also engaged in a rigorous course of preparation that included reading and watching resources related to US involvement in Korean politics, Japanese occupation, the Korean War, Presbyterian and other mission efforts in Korea, Korean culture, and important events in Korean history.

The group’s itinerary includes a trip to Jeju Island, the site of the April 3, 1948 Uprising and Massacre. Also included is a visit to the Korean War and Women’s Human Rights Museum, worship at Presbyterian partner denomination churches, a tour of the DMZ including the Young Adult Volunteer site at the Border Peace School and an afternoon at the site of the No Gun Ri massacre. Conversations with National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), and Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) representatives will highlight the importance of continued ecumenical relations with the churches of Korea.

In an effort to “create a community learning experience,” daily devotions and reflection times are built into the schedule to assist in the process of understanding and communicating what participants experience along the way.

“It’s my hope that you’ll take the things you learn and what you’ve experienced and bring it back to your congregations and presbyteries,” Horton told the group during a preparatory video conference call. “We need people to continue to raise awareness because that’s what has brought about the recent overtures and recommendations to the General Assembly.

“Your presence in Korea is important, and it’s only magnified when you share your experience with people back home.”

Stay tuned to Presbyterian News Service for ongoing coverage of the 2018 Presbyterian Peacemaking Travel Study Seminar in Korea.

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