2005: PROK - Synode

The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea  PROK

Aus der 90. Synode der PROK, 2005 

Vom 27. 30. Sept. 2005 fand die 90. Synode der PROK in Kwangju statt. Etwa 700 Delegierte aus den 24 Kirchenbezirken nahmen daran teil, dazu 200 Gäste einschließlich der 11 Repräsentanten der ausländischen Partnerkirchen.

Pfr. PARK Hyung Kyu  bei der Synode:
"Unsere Kirche darf ihren Geist der Widerständigkeit und der Veränderung nicht verlieren, sondern sie muss an der Verwirklichung von Gottes Herrschaft in Gerechtigkeit, Frieden und Versöhnung festhalten, um den Geist von Kwangju richtig zu ehren."

Thema der Synode:
„God of Grace, Transform the World“ („Gott, in deiner Gnade, verwandle die Welt“).
Unter dieser Überschrift wurden Leben und Mission der Kirche kritisch betrachtet und künftige Missionsaufgaben formuliert.
Neuer Moderator ist Pfr. PARK Won-Keun,
seine Stellvertreter: Pfr. YANG Tae-Yoon und der Älteste CHOO Byung-Kook.
Am 2. Abend versammelten sich die Delegierten und Gäste zusammen mit Gemeindegliedern aus Kwangju-Gemeinden zu einem Gedenkgottesdienst für die vielen hundert im Mai 1980 Ermordeten. Die Predigt hielt Pfr. PARK Hyung-Kyu, einer der herausragenden Gestalten des Widerstandes gegen die Militärdiktatur. Er sagte u.a.: „Unsere Kirche darf ihren Geist der Widerständigkeit und der Veränderung nicht verlieren und an der Verwirklichung von Gottes Herrschaft in Gerechtigkeit, Frieden und Versöhnung festhalten, um den Geist von Kwangju richtig zu ehren.“

Der Jahresbericht

Summary of General Secretary's Report to the 90th General Assembly, September 2005

In the 21st century we Christians are faced with many serious challenges that have resulted from scientific advance, materialism and mamonism. Particularly, we have a fear that the rapid advance of bio-science and medical science might unveil the mystery of God's creation. Moreover, due to the overwhelming development of information technology, the global community is rapidly becoming closer, moving beyond socio-economic and cultural boundaries. On the other hand, however, the US hegemonic power, the extreme conservative tendencies and the prevailing competitive morals of the global society are leading the future of humankind to conflict and destruction.

At this critical juncture of history, the PROK, with the vision of a sharing and serving spirit, should reaffirm her prophetic, progressive and transformative identity. The PROK also needs to reaffirm its mission to challenge the conservative tendency of the majority of Korean churches. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan, the PROK must also reclaim its mission towards the reunification of the Korean peninsula and reconciliation of the Korean people. In order to realize this vision and mission, the PROK has implemented the following programs and projects since the 89th General Assembly one year ago.

1. Peaceful Reunification

1) North and South Korean Christians meet at Mt. Kumgang
About 250 Korean Christians met at Mt. Kumgang in North Korea on May 23-25, 2005. This "North-South Korean Christian Prayer Gathering" was jointly organized by the NCCK, the Korea Christians Federation (KCF) and the PROK. Among the participants were about 15 Christians from the North, and 120 ministers and lay leaders of the PROK. This prayer gathering was a highly significant, historical event in that it was the first joint effort of North and South Korean Christians for a gathering of lay people as well as ministers, and the first such event held on the Korean peninsula. In the past, North and South Koreans could meet only in a third country. The main events of the prayer gathering were worship services and a special choir festival

2) PROK officers visit Pyongyang
The executive officers of the PROK made a solidarity visit to Pyongyang, North Korea on July 15-19, 2005. During their visit, the PROK officers held several meetings with the leaders of the Korea Christians Federation (KCF), and together articulated the role of the KCF and PROK in the movement for the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. The two churches agreed to explore the possibility of initiating a new joint project, such as a children's day-care centre in North Korea. They also agreed to consolidate all their efforts to relieve the sufferings of the North Korean people who are facing a serious food crisis. During this visit, the PROK officers gave a donation for 400 tons of flour for the people of Youngchon in North Korea.

2. Social Justice

1) Prayer gathering on Dokdo
On April 12, 2005 about 50 PROK representatives held a prayer gather on Dokdo to reaffirm that Dokdo is Korean territory. Through the prayer gathering the PROK expressed grave concern about the increasing militarization of Japan, and urged the Japanese government to not distort history. (Dokdo, a small island in the East Sea between Japan and Korea, has been the subject of a six-decade dispute between the two countries, each claiming it as part of its territory.)

2) A symposium on stem-cell research and Christian ethics
On July 4, 2005 the Church and Society Committee of the PROK held a symposium on the theme "Stem-cell research and Christian ethics". Rev. Choi Hyung-Mook of the PROK provided a theological clue, approaching the issue of stem-cell research from the theological perspective. Rev. Choi warned, "We respect the scientific motivation of stem-cell research which aims to treat incurable diseases, but there is a high possibility that the research can be manipulated and abused by capitalistic motivation." He stressed that "the Korean church should develop a mechanism to monitor the research in order to protect the good will behind the research." The participants reached a common understanding that the outcome of the stem-cell research should contribute to peace and the co-existence of human beings, sustaining the order of God's creation. In conclusion, the participants highlighted that "the role of churches is to challenge our society with a prophetic vision to look into the issue from the perspective of peace and co-existence."

3) PROK demands immediate amnesty of student movement leaders
On July 26, 2005 about 50 members of Hanchongryun launched a sit-down strike in the offices of the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), demanding that the government grant immediate amnesty to their members who are on the police wanted list. Hanchongryun, a university student organization with branches on many campuses across the country, was listed as an anti-state organization until 2003 because of its progressive, open stance toward North Korea which, under South Korea's National Security Law, is branded an enemy state. In 2004, however, the current government recognized Hanchongryun as a legitimate student organization. Nevertheless, 48 top leaders of Hanchongryun who had been charged under the National Security Law before 2003 were excluded from earlier amnesties. On July 30th, the PROK issued a statement demanding that the government grant immediate amnesty to these Hanchongryun leaders. In the statement, the PROK also proclaimed that "the National Security Law is a legacy of the military regimes and should be abolished immediately.""

3. Overseas Mission and Ecumenical Cooperation

1) Mission cooperation with churches in the 1st world
In order to strengthen its relationship with churches in the 1st world, the PROK, together with partner churches, has developed several scholarship projects and exchange programs. It is an encouraging fact that through these scholarship and exchange programs the partnership between PROK and its partner churches in Europe and North America is moving towards the future with more ecumenical understanding and cooperation. Particularly, the PROK is grateful to have received a "Justice and Peace" Award from Global Ministries, the joint ecumenical desk of the United Church of Christ in the USA and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This award has been given for the past 20 years to individuals, churches and NGOs whose ministries have been a prophetic witness to inspire Christians' social responsibility in their respective countries.

2) Mission cooperation with churches in the 3rd world
Immediately after the tsunami which hit Asian countries last year, the PROK appealed to its members who responded with the amazing generosity of about US$350,000. These funds have been distributed through partners to Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India. In India, working jointly with the NCC-India URM desk, the PROK is using some of these funds to support housing projects, job training courses and a fishing boat project in the Tamil Nadu area to enable the affected people to be self-supportive. In Indonesia, the PROK has provided funds for three-wheeled rikshas, fishing boats, and stationary and uniforms for school children, as well as seed money for a credit union, to the tsunami-affected families in those areas. Through this support about 60 families and 400 people have been able to begin rebuilding their lives with strong hope. The PROK is also cooperating with the Gereja Batak Karo Protestan (Karo Batak Protestant Church) in constructing a new church in Nias Island, where almost everything was totally destroyed by the tsunami. In Thailand, the PROK is supporting a project to help the Burmese migrant workers who were seriously affected by tsunami.

From mid-June to mid-September two PROK interns, Rev. Jun Sung-Pyo and Ms. Kang Hye-Rim, served with NCC-India URM as tsunami interns. In May the PROK sent a Diakonia intern, Ms. Yoon Jae-Hyang, to assist the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) for six months in tsunami documentation and theological reflection.

3) Life and Peace Internship in Asia
The PROK recently launched a new project, "Life and Peace Internship in Asia", to encourage young leaders in the PROK to learn about Asia and its churches and societies. This internship project particularly aims to train the young people as peace and justice-minded persons. In September 2005 two interns were sent to "Documentation for Action Groups in Asia" (DAGA) in Hong Kong and "Peace for Life" in the Philippines. DAGA is an international NGO which works for human rights and peace initiatives in Asia and the wider world. Peace for Life, based in the Philippines, is a global faith-based initiative resisting militarized globalization and creating life-enhancing alternatives.

4) PROK E-News
Since June 2005, the PROK began publishing a monthly E-News to share with churches around the world PROK activities and some critical ecumenical news of Korean churches. PROK hopes that this E-News will be a platform to create an open space where not only PROK but also ecumenical communities in the world may share their vision, mission and hope to realize the Reign of God.

5) Increasing numbers of overseas mission co-workers
At present, 52 PROK mission co-workers are serving in 25 countries around the world, and the number is on the rise.

4. PROK Statistics

As of the end of 2004:
1) Number of local churches: 1,558; of these, 15 were newly established in 2004.
2) Number of ministers: 2,392: of these, 63 were newly ordained in 2004.
3) Number of church members: 336,095, including 2,204 members who newly registered in 2004.

5. The PROK as a Community of Sharing and Serving

1) Solidarity fund for ministers' minimum income supplement
In order to support ministers of poor churches, the PROK set a minimum income for ministers. As of the end of 2004, 1,435 churches participated in this project, and 424 churches in the PROK are currently receiving the fund.

2) PROK pension fund
As of the end of 2004, the total capital of the PROK pension fund was about 12 million USD. Last year, 75 ministers joined the pension fund; this will reinforce the fundamental of the pension fund.

3) Social Welfare Mission
Currently, 43 social welfare foundations of the PROK are carrying out Diakonia mission. These 43 welfare foundations founded a network in 1995 in order to share information and consolidate their service for marginalized people in the communities.

6. Conclusion: PROK Moving Towards a Future of Hope and Vision

1) A church promoting unity and cooperation
As the authoritarian culture phases out after decades of military rule, Korean society is going through another phase of social transformation. The church also is going through a transitional period, which demands a new spirit of unity and cooperation. I believe that if 1,600 churches in the PROK can be one in unity and cooperation, we can face any challenges put forward by local congregations, presbyteries and the General Assembly.

2) A church promoting future leadership
During the last few decades, the PROK has produced many ecumenical leaders. However, it is regrettable that recently the number of qualified leaders of the PROK is rapidly decreasing, for several reasons. Therefore, it is urgent that the PROK recover the tradition of promoting potential young leaders who will empower the PROK with new vision. Early this year, we sent several young interns to Asian churches, and later this year we also plan to send more interns to various NGOs to learn about peace and justice work. I believe the PROK can continue its mission only when it commits itself to promoting young leadership.

3) A church articulating a new paradigm of mission
The 89th PROK General Assembly last year decided to establish a Campaign Center for a Peace Community to promote peace and reunification movements in Korea as well as the world. I am sure this Center will provide a new opportunity for the PROK to articulate and concretize its new mission paradigm.

4) A church serving the marginalized community
Neo-liberal economic globalization is pushing the marginalized groups in society closer to the edge. Particularly, the farming and fishing communities in Korea suffer severely. It is the time for the PROK to revisit the biblical concept of economic justice and to reclaim the biblical truth in order to respond to the needs of those who are marginalized. We also need to address the pressing ecological issues and struggle to articulate eco-friendly theology and related mission policies to sustain the creation of God.

5) A church establishing reasonable management principles
In the future the PROK must create a material basis on which the ongoing mission of the PROK can be sustained. To achieve this goal, I believe the PROK must begin a restructuring process to reorganize our human and material resources in a more sustainable way. Particularly, to stabilize our material basis, I emphasize the importance of transparency in the decision-making process on financial matters. I believe that without transparency there can be no mutual trust and cooperation. Last, but not least, the PROK should also initiate a long-term plan to support retired ministers and elders who have financial difficulties.

Let us pray together that we may discern the signs of the times and faithfully devote ourselves to realize the Reign of God.

Rev. Yoon Kil-Soo
General Secretary

Jahresbericht (engl.)  als pdf

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Studienreise des Ökologie-Instituts nach Deutschland. 
27. Sept. 2013