27. 06. 2014 | News, Archive 2014

Protestant Belief and Freedom of Expression are Interwoven

Korean Churches ask EMS for support for the peace and reunification movement of the churches

At the National Cemetery in Gwangju, the delegates of the EMS Mission Council commemorate the victims of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising in May 1980. (Photo: EMS/Waltz)

"Some sectors of the Christian churches in Korea have been at the forefront of the democratic movement since decades," says Reverend Marianne Wagner, Chairperson of the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS). "Many of the present leaders and pastors of our member churches, the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) and the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), were imprisoned and even tortured in the times of dictatorship. They sharpened the awareness of other churches in the fellowship how deeply Protestant faith, freedom of expression and Human Rights are interwoven. We now support the demand of the South Korean churches for reconciliation and a peaceful reunification with the North and acknowledge their strong will to build bridges between both parts of the still divided country, knowing well that strong forces in the North and the South are much more interested in deepening trenches."

The Mission Council of EMS celebrated a public ceremony of commemoration for the victims of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising. More than 200 people had died May 1980, when armed troops shot into mass-demonstrations against the military dictatorship. "Our co-operation with the Korean churches dates back to these times of desperate struggle for democracy and freedom," explains Wagner.

The General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, BAE Tae-Jin, says: "We are still grateful to the EMS Fellowship for the concern and the solidarity they have shown in the dark times of the dictatorship, in which human rights have been violated. And, we hope that they will express strong support for the peace and reunification movement of the churches."

Reverend LEE Hong-Jung, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, adds: "Since our society is still traumatized by the wounds of the Korean War and the past dictatorships, we as PCK have launched a decade for healing and reconciliation. We hope that in this way we can pave the way to peace and reunification."

The Mission Council of the international EMS Fellowship meets from June 25th till 28th in the South Korean Honam Theological University and Seminary in Gwangju. EMS counts 28 members, most of them churches in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, but also the German churches in Baden, Hesse and Nassau, Kurhessen-Waldeck, the Palatinate and Württemberg, as well as the Moravian Church.

Press contact:
Regina Karasch-Böttcher, Karasch@ems-online.org, Tel. +49 711 636 78 85

Jürgen Reichel, reichel@ems-online.org, Tel. +82 10 5677 3486 (Korea)