Korea: Arise and Sing Together for Life, Hope and Peace

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More than one million gathering from all over the world for an ecumenical prayer rally 

On the 65th anniversary of Korea’s Independence, Korean churches held an ecumenical prayer rally, declaring a message for life, hope and peace to establish a new-leveled spiritual foundation. 

Marking this year’s historical meaning of the centenary of the forceful annexation of Korea, the 65th anniversary of Korea’s Independence, the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, the 50th anniversary of the Pro-democracy Movement of Apr. 19th and the 30th anniversary of Gwangju Democratization Movement, the Christian Council of Korea (CCK / Representative President Rev. Kwang Sun Rhee) and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK / President Rev. Byeong Ho Jeon) hosted an ecumenical prayer rally at the Seoul City Hall Plaza and in 140 cities throughout the world, where more than one million people gathered under the proclamation, ‘Jesus Christ, the Hope of the World!’ on Aug. 15th. 

Christians from Korea as well as the Korean Diaspora thanked God for today’s prosperity in Korea and reconfirmed the mission entrusted to Korean churches, assuring themselves that, in succession to Korean churches’ spiritual tradition, they should serve and share not only for this tribe and nation but also for the world hope and peace. 

The prayer rally was organized into five parts: ‘Yearning and Passion,’ ‘Thankfulness and Restoration,’ ‘Unity and Reconciliation’, ’Life and Hope’ and ‘Liberty and Peace.’ 

The first part, ‘Yearning and Passion’, was full of various performances: multi-cultural families’ festive stage, praise concert led by Choi Chi Woo Band, art performance by the Pyeongyang Traditional Arts Group comprised of former residents of North Korea, Music Performance Team Yekki’s show about the restoration of independence and vision. 

The second part was ‘Thankfulness and Restoration’, led by Rev. Young Hoon Lee (Yoido Full Gospel Church / Co-president of CCK). After the color guard, that represented each denomination, region and overseas city, marched in and the theme film was projected on screen, Rev. Ji Il Bang (Honorary President of CCK), who is 100 years old, raised the curtain of this great rally through a drum performance with pastors, the lay, teenagers and kids. Following the opening declaration by Bishop Gyeong Ha Shin (Standing Director of the Rally / Ex-pr esident of the Council of the Korean Methodist Church bishops), Rev. Kwang Sun Rhee, the Representative President of CCK and Rev. Byeong Ho Jeon, President of NCCK gave an opening address and Rev. Jeong Ik Lee (Standing Director of the Rally / Co-president of CCK) and Rev. Jong Hyeon Jang (Co-president of the Rally / Co-president of CCK) delivered the welcoming address. All participants in the rally sang Ae-Guk-Ga(Korean national anthem), thanked God and prayed for the restoration with the guidance of the three pastors mentioned above. As Rev. Hun Goh (Ansan Jeil Church) gave a recital of his own poem, ‘Send the Sprit’s Fire Right Here, Today’, the intensity of the rally continued to increase.  

In the third part, ‘Unity and Reconciliation’ led by Rev. Byuung Hee Yang (Standing Director of the Council of Presbyterian Churches in Korea), the main sermon titled ‘Jesus Christ, the Hope of the World: God’s Grace through the Restoration of Independence’ was given by the Rev. David Yongi Cho (Honorary President of CCK). Afterwards, a meaningful ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation’ time continued as Rev. Ueda Hiroko (the National Council of Churches in Japan) and Rev. Aragawa Masao (Japan Evangelical Association) humbly begged for elderly former comfort women’s forgiveness and reconciliation, which were also made between the presidents of 12 lead ing Korean denominations and the Japanese pastors, followed by a fervent communal prayer of about 500,000 Korean Christians at the plaza. 

Rev. Sam Hwan Kim (Representative Director of the Rally / Co-president of CCK) led the fourth part, ‘Life and Hope’. Rev. Dong Won Lee (Global Mission Church), who was born in the year of the independence, gave message about the thankfulness for the grace of liberation and the mission entrusted to us and other messages were given by three up-and-coming Korean pastors: Rev. Seong Jin Jeong (Kwangsung Presbyterian Church), Rev. Hak Jung Kim (Dream Methodist Church) and Rev. Gang Seok Soh (Sae Eden Church). After that, the Declaration of the Korean Church was expressed, which was established by the Committee for the Declaration composed of 15 theological professors from each denomination of Kore an churches. The service was done by a blessing prayer of Rev. Jang Hwan Kim (Honorary Director of the Rally / Honorary President of CCK).  

For the last part, ‘Liberty and Peace’, a Praise and Worship festival led by Markers Community (Representative Mr. Jun Yeong Kim) with youths drew down the curtain of this great rally. 

In addition to the prayer rally on Aug. 15th, the ecumenical prayer rally events also included various fields’ rallies: a theological symposium at the World Gloria Center of Myung Sung Church on Aug. 12th, a forum for world mission in a studio of CGN TV on Aug. 13th, a Christian education forum at Seohyun Church on Aug. 20th, a symposium for social welfare at Kwangsung Presbyterian Church on Aug. 11th, a mass rally for the reunification of North and South in an auditorium of Yonsei University on Aug. 16th, a concert for peace in the Concert Hall of Seoul Art Center on Aug. 16th and a forum for multicultural society in the Convention Hall of CTS TV.  

Rev. Kwang Sun Rhee, Representative President of CCK, which promoted and completed successfully with NCCK the ecumenical rally events in the whole Korean churches’ participation, commented on this rally that it was so meaningful that it inherited well the Korean Churches’ tradition as a hope for the Koreans, who were in deep despair, through the Great Revival Movement 100 years ago. He continued to say, “Now is the time when we have to try our best to enhance the churches’ public confidence by restoring the Korean Christian tradition of serving the suffered, the weak and the lonely in our history.” Furthermore, he emphasized the significance of reconciliation through Japanese church leaders’ repentance and the forgiveness from Korean Churches exchanged. He finally highlighted the importance of gathering the strengths to further the efforts in Korean Churches to mature by churches served by others to become the churches that serve other churches all over the globe, which was shown through this ecumenical rally.