June 25, 2023
Today, June 25, marks 72 years since the Korean War broke out. Throughout that June, skirmishes along the division border led to North Korean forces crossing the border en masse on the 25th. Most U.S. Americans believe the war then ended in 1953; however, only an armistice agreement was signed at that time. This means outright fighting in the war has paused, but the state-of-war itself has continued for 72 years. Countless resources that might have been directed toward the health and welfare of the people throughout the Korean Peninsula have instead been spent on weapons of destruction and perpetuating hostility. This also means that the U.S. military continues to exert “wartime command authority” over the South Korean military, thus they cannot make any major military decision without the permission of the U.S. commander of forces in Korea, including ending the Korean War. We can then say that the Korean War has become the U.S.’s longest “forever war,” even longer than the war in Afghanistan, despite it not being a war with continuous battles.
In this context, our Christian partners in Korea, including the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea, have been exerting every effort they could to encourage policy makers in Korea and in the U.S. to end policies that deepened hostility and instead open the doors to gradual mutual trust building and the cultivation of a peace regime to replace the forever war regime. We have set this time, June 25 until Aug. 15, as a Season of Prayer and Reflection for Peace on the Korean Peninsula, along with our partners and the World Council of Churches. Now, they are also asking us to join them by signing on to the Korea Peace Appeal, calling for authentic dialogue to end the war now and open a chance for peace. So long as we exert authority over the South Korean military, as U.S. Americans we have a responsibility to remove the obstacles we have placed in the way of a Korean-led peace process. Let us join our voices with all those in Korea praying for an end to the war and for peaceful reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
Kurt Esslinger 이광원 PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker, National Council of Churches in Korea Reconciliation and Reunification Department Ecumenical Forum for Korea (EFK) Coordinator
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, June 25, 2023, the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Today’s Focus: Season of Prayer and Reflection in the Korean Peninsula begins
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Brian Frick, Interim Executive Director, Stony Point Center, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Stephanie Fritz, Coordinator, Christian Formation, Theology, Formation & Evangelism, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
God of peace, guide our hands to make tools for peace instead of weapons of war. Let us learn war no more. Guide our hearts to break down walls of division, not with pressure sanctions and threats, but with love, humility and understanding. God, in solidarity with our siblings in Korea, help us to make a way where there is no way. Amen.