Peaceful reunification on the Korean peninsula - achieved diplomatically without the threat of a U.S. preemptive military strike - is a shared priority of the region's Anglican leaders and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, who conferred in Seoul October 23-26.
"It is my hope that the U.S. government will adopt policies as you have outlined those of the U.S. Episcopal Church," South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun told Griswold while welcoming the Presiding Bishop and his delegation to Blue House, the president's official residence, October 25.
"As a U.S. ally, we are doing our best to support polices of the U.S. government," Roh said, speaking through an interpreter. Yet at the same time, "Korea does suffer when the U.S. adopts a tougher stance on the Korean peninsula," he said.
Roh indicated that the Episcopal Church's position, articulated in a written message from the Presiding Bishop to Korea's Anglican Church, would assist in "instilling courage in the Korean people and moderating the U.S. position," he said.
Accompanied by Korea's Anglican Archbishop Matthew Chung and Seoul Bishop-elect Francis Park, Griswold shared a copy of his message with Roh, who commended the helpful 115-year ministry of local Anglicans who have been strategic leaders in the democratization movement, education and social services.
In his message, the Presiding Bishop stated his intention to emphasize the Episcopal Church's commitment to reunification, affirmed in a 2003 General Convention resolution, "by bringing before the United States government several concerns.
"I will urge my own government to reject the policy of preemption that heightens tensions and threatens the well being of peoples both in the north and south," Griswold noted. "As the two Koreas move forward towards the goal of reunification, I will urge the United States to take the following further steps:
* support and promote a nonaggression pact that will move all parties toward a comprehensive peace formally ending the 'state of war' that has existed since 1953 by following through in the current negotiations to pledge not to preemptively attack the DPRK in exchange for the DPRK's abandonment of its nuclear weapons program
* refrain from demonization of the DPRK in favor of supporting the building of relations between the north and south which hold the promise of peace and reunification
* make every effort to invite the DPRK into the international community as a full member so that the country can develop and pursue internationally recognized norms and standards for its people to enjoy, specifically to provide humanitarian relief and development assistance to the DPRK including poverty alleviation, food aid, energy development and transportation
* assure access to all mechanisms for redress of grievances between U.S. military personnel and Korean civilians in the ROK."
Griswold -- who is continuing a 14-day visit to Asia at the invitation of Anglican and other Christian leaders in Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei - said his commitment to reunification on the Korean peninsula was renewed by conversations with Anglican leaders, and by their provision for him to visit Korea's Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on October 24.
"We ask that your reconciling love will heal divisions and bring peace," Griswold said in a prayer he was asked to offer at the DMZ's wooden "Bridge of No Return" across which prisoners of war have passed under heavily guarded conditions.
The Presiding Bishop identified the DMZ as "one of the few explosive flashpoints lingering from the end of the Cold War."
Griswold and his wife, Phoebe, and their delegation of four senior staff members from the Episcopal Church Center were joined on the visit by a team of Korean Anglicans including Bishop Andrew Shin of the Diocese of Daejeon and his wife.
The group's DMZ tour was led by U.S. Army Staff Seargeant Richard Henkes, New Zealand Captain Dan Able, and U.S. Command Chaplain Samuel Boone. The guides are among officers and soldiers collaborating in the United Nations Command peacekeeping force based within the DMZ's peninsula-wide span of 155 miles long and two miles wide along the 38th Parallel.
In a Temporary Shelter building that bridges the border, the Presiding Bishop and his delegation stood on one side of the room in North Korea, and on the other side, in the south. North Korean soldiers posted just beyond the building observed the entire visit through continual surveillance and interior audio systems.
The guides pointed out Freedom House, a structure built for visits of family members divided by the DMZ, yet not yet used to date. Helpful advances of shared economic projects currently in development were also outlined.
"I have learned from you about hopeful contacts between the governments of the north and south," Griswold observed in his written message to the Church in Korea. "I note that both sides have made a commitment to reunification, called the Sunshine Policy, and a number of exchange visits have now taken place allowing families to make contacts and build positive relations for the future. Plans for rail and road links to increase communication are also hopeful signs. But I know much hard work remains to be done."
Particular support for the ministries of the Korean Anglican Church in its various peacemaking ministries were offered by the Presiding Bishop and his delegation.
Phoebe Griswold affirmed the roles, concerns and ministries of women were in conversations with Anglican sisters from across the Korea, pointing to collaboration in the work of the Anglican Women's Empowerment Team and the upcoming observance of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women. The Korean Anglican Church has eight women priests among its clergy serving some 50,000 members in three dioceses: Seoul, Daejeon, and Pusan.
Exchanges for theological education, peace and justice ministries, Anglican companion relationships, and provincial communication strategy were among topics addressed in conversations shared by local church leaders and Margaret Larom, the Episcopal Church's director of Anglican and Global Relations, and the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, the Episcopal Church's director of peace and justice ministries.
Grieves was among three panelists who addressed reunification issues in an October 25 afternoon forum at Seoul's landmark Romanesque Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Nicholas. Fellow presenters included The Rev. Dr. Kim Min-Woong, an EBS-TV news commentator and lecturer at Sungkonghoe (Anglican) University, and the Rev. Dr. Park Jong-Wha, a Presbyterian minister and the director of the international committee of the Korean National Council of Churches.
Invited to offer his views on "Communion and Mission," the Presiding Bishop told the forum of Bible studies in which he and his fellow Primate, Korea's Archbishop Chung, heard Cambridge Professor David Ford observe that "we in the Anglican Communion are in the process of becoming a Communion."
"I have reflected often upon his words over these past years," Griswold said, "and have come to see more and more that communion is not a human construction but a gift from God....
"Through the blood of the cross the walls of division between Gentile and Jew are broken down," the Presiding Bishop added. "And Gentile and Jew here symbolized all national, ethnic, cultural, social divisions. It is not that difference is done away with. It is reconciled - drawn together in communion. Difference is therefore a gift - an expression of the fullness of Christ present in all humanity..."
Differences of cultural contexts and theological understandings, including views on human sexuality, were addressed by the Presiding Bishop, who emphasized that "though we in the Episcopal Church live with strains and tensions, as do other provinces in the Communion as well..., the mission of the church, as described in the American Book of Common Prayer is the restoration of all people to unity with God and one another in Christ."
Honored at an opening banquet attended by some 100 local church leaders, the Presiding Bishop expressed his deep gratitude for the overwhelming hospitality extended to him by Archbishop Chung, the welcoming committee, and Chairman Kim Seung Youn of the Hanwha Group and its world-class Seoul Plaza Hotel.
"We hope this is the first of many visits for you," Archbishop Chung told the Griswolds as they prepared to depart. "Thank you for coming, and for sharing in the partnership between our two churches."
Article From: Canon Robert Williams is the Episcopal Church's director of communicaton. He is part of the Presiding Bishop's delegation on the Asia visit, as is Barbara Braver, assistant to the Presiding Bishop for Communication.