“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14, NRSV)
Too often, United Methodists define themselves by what they are against – we stand against war, against bullying, against racial and economic injustice, against police brutality, against terrorism. The focus on what we are against sometimes causes us to lose sight of what we are for – United Methodists are for peace, for justice, for diversity and equality. We are for reconciliation and restoration, for harmony and unity. Now is a crucial time for United Methodists to communicate what we are for, as we witness the growing tensions and political maneuvering concerning North Korea.
Our 2016 Book of Resolutions has a clear statement of The United Methodist Church position concerning the situation on the Korean peninsula. Resolution #6135 – “Korea: Peace, Justice, and Reunification” states a compelling vision for what is possible to bring an end to division, and to pave a path toward healing and wholeness. Our vision is a commitment to set aside differences, and not make excuses, but to clearly communicate our desire for the war in Korea to end – the 1953 Armistice never formally ended the war – and to work toward reconciliation, reunification, and restoration of families and bloodlines from North and South. The United Methodist vision is grounded in a Christian witness for the glory of God to overcome the worldly powers and principalities. We oppose sanctions and military responses to difficult and complex global realities. We seek faith over force, and a mature collaboration beyond threat and bullying.
United Methodists are committed to humanitarian negotiation. We reject violence as a viable solution. We call all people called United Methodist to contact governmental representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as leaders of our United Nations, to work toward treaty and peaceful diplomacy. We see no immediate or lasting value to military options, including preemptive strikes. As always, United Methodists call for disarmament, and an end to nuclear and chemical weaponry.
Our options should be peace options. Working together toward an end to the divisions and hostilities that divide Korea should be a high priority for our Church, as well as our country. It is important that actions have consequences. We do not ask anyone to ignore violations of human rights, or threats to global security, but we should seek to model solutions that create and build a viable future, instead of imposing one nation’s values on others. We call for President Trump, Vice President Pence, and our military decision makers to use caution, discretion, and patience in dealing what our American media most often characterizes as “threat,” “violation,” and “aggression.”
Let us begin in prayer.
Pray for our world leaders, and the ability to work together
Pray for our planet, and a sustainable future for all people
Pray for reconciliation, restoration, and reunification – bringing families together for the first time in almost seventy years
Pray for an end to war – in Korea, and wherever war is viewed as a solution
Pray for our governmental representatives to rely on the very highest human values for healing and hope
Pray for the men, women, and children of North and South Korea – living in an artificial division based in politics and worldviews that continue to do harm
But, let us also act – to call for peace, to petition for healing, to challenge the status quo, and to hold our leaders accountable to the best possible decisions and actions. If enough people join together to cast a vision for a unified and renewed Korea, we offer a witness to the power of our faith and commitment to make a gospel dream into a lived reality.
The prophet Isaiah provides a word of hope from God: “Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent – its food shall be dust.” (Isaiah 65:24-25, NRSV) Korea is home to many wonderful people, in the North and in the South. There are people on both sides of the border who seek nothing greater than that their homeland can one day be united. This is more than a noble sentiment and desire – it is the will of God. Let us join together in solidarity with our Korean brothers and sisters in this sacred task of peace-making, peace-keeping, and restoration.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).