From October 30 until November 8, The World Council of Churches (WCC) will hold its every 7-years global assembly in Busan on the southern tip of the mainland of Korea.
According to the WCC website:
“The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. At the end of 2012, there were 345 member churches.”
And regarding the assembly:
“The assembly is the highest governing body of the World Council of Churches (WCC), and meets every seven years. It is a moment when the fellowship of member churches comes together as a whole in prayer and celebration.
The assembly has the mandate to review programmes, to issue public statements and determine the overall policies of the WCC, as well as to elect presidents and a Central Committee that oversees the council’s work until the next assembly.
Along with the WCC member churches, partner organizations and other churches have a strong presence at the event. This makes an assembly of the WCC the most diverse Christian gathering of its size in the world. It is a unique opportunity for the churches to deepen their commitment to visible unity and common witness so that world may believe.
The WCC was established at its 1st Assembly in Amsterdam, Netherlands (1948). Since then assemblies have been in held in Evanston, United States (1954); New Delhi, India (1961); Uppsala, Sweden (1968); Nairobi, Kenya (1975); Vancouver, Canada (1983); Canberra, Australia (1991); Harare, Zimbabwe (1998); and Porto Alegre, Brazil (2006).
The theme of the 10th Assembly is: “God of Life, lead us to Justice and Peace” . Which as you can see is a very good theme for a village like Gangjeong, known as the Life and Peace Village, which is struggling for Justice. With this in mind. Gangjeong Village and its supporters will have a presence at this years WCC.
As you can see in the above graphic. There will be both a Madang Workshop and an Exhibition Booth.
The Workshop will take place on Wednesday, November 6 from 2:15-3:45 p.m. It is called, Inter-Island Solidarity for Peace: Establishing Peace Against maritime Militarization.
This is workshop will be a discussion about strategies, failures and successes of anti-militarism and anti-base movements. The main focus is on building a better and stronger network between islands who are suffering similar injustices. Guest speakers will be joining from Jeju, Okinawa, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Lanyu (in Taiwan). We are hoping that many other islanders and people struggling against unwanted military bases and land seizures will join as for the discussion as well.
We will also have a booth for the duration of the WCC assembly from morning until evening. It is Booth #50. It is in the blue section under the name “Gangjeong Village Association”. There will be pictures, displays, videos, brochures, newsletters, postcards, books, handicrafts, and friendly people.
If you are at the WCC Assembly in Busan, please come by our booth and also think about joining our workshop!
Open Letter to the WCC:
Finally and perhaps most importantly, the Gangjeong Village Association, The Jeju Pan-Island Committee for Stop of Military Base and for Realization of Peace Island, and The National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island have issued an open letter calling for the World Council of Churches to issue a public statement for peace against Asia-Pacific maritime militarisation. The letter is reproduced below and also can be found at this link. Please spread this to anyone you know who might have connections with the WCC or is attending this assembly:
Calling for the Issue of a Public Statement for Peace against Asia-Pacific Maritime Militarization:
“Guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79)
We are writing to urge the delegates of Member Churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) to seriously consider issuing a public statement on building peace in the Asia-Pacific against maritime militarization. Today, we are witnessing a rise of militarism under the name of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. Tension between the economic and military expansion of China and the corresponding the U.S. “Asian Pivot” strategy has sparked an escalation in the war-profit industry and an arms race for global military dominance. This has left in its wake conflict and suffering, and the destruction of land, cultures, and traditions across the Asia-Pacific. These false idols of security and economic expansion runs counter to the justice, peace, and life that are the core values of the World Council of Churches and Christians everywhere.
A key example of the impact of this militarization can be seen in Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. One of the oldest and most naturally beautiful villages of Jeju, the unique eco-systems of Gangjeong are a showcase of God’s creative spirit, home to numerous endangered species and the world’s largest temperate soft coral forest. Since 2007, without the villagers’ consent, it has become the site of massive naval base construction. If built, the Jeju naval base will be a critical outpost of the ROK-Japan-U.S. maritime military alliance targeting China. As a result, Jeju, ironically known as “the Island of Peace”, will become a primary target, leading to devastating loss of life and destruction.
Dedicated to the care of creation and the spread of life, the struggle against the base in Gangjeong is an open and truly ecumenical/inter-faith resistance for justice. Catholics, Protestants, Quakers, Anabaptists, Buddhists, and Shamanists have come together to create a vital community, marked by vibrant practice of faith and respect for different traditions without dilution or conflict. Despite police crackdowns on religious expression and assembly, Catholic priests hold daily mass in front of the construction site, Protestants have prayer services, and Shamans perform traditional rituals. The ingredients that hold it all together are a steadfast desire for God’s justice, a dream of life together, and a commitment to nonviolent peacemaking. We hope that the struggle against the Jeju naval base construction, which is a microcosm of the maritime militarization of the Asia-Pacific, can be a call to Christians and all people of God to return to the path of peace.
It is now urgent for churches to respond to the escalating maritime militarization and violence in the Asia-Pacific region that runs counter to the call of the people of God to peacemaking. As mentioned in an “Ecumenical Call for Just Peace,” churches should become builders of a culture of peace while recognizing the promise of peace is a core value of all religions. The farmers of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island are at the forefront of such a faithful realization of the Kingdom of God. Let’s not turn their plowshares into swords.
Therefore, we call upon the World Council of Churches to:
• Issue a public statement at the 10th Assembly of World Council of Churches, formally expressing its grave concern regarding maritime militarization in the Asia-Pacific which is a threat to regional and global just peace;
• Urge the government of the Republic of Korea to stop the Jeju naval base construction and focus on peaceful approaches to cooperation;
• Call upon the government of the Republic of Korea to protect and promote all human rights including the right to peace and environment of the people of Gangjeong Village;
• Appeal to the churches and national ecumenical councils in the region to take serious measures to stop the arms race and make the Pacific the Sea of Peace.
Mr. Dong-Kyun Kang / Ms. Young-hee Jeong
Village Mayor / Chairwoman
Gangjeong Village Association / Village Women’s Committee
Mr. Gi-Ryong Hong / Ms. Ri-ri Hong
Co-convenor / Co-convenor
Jeju Pan-Island Committee for Stop of Military Base and for Realization of Peace Island
Mr. Taeho Lee / Ms. Hye-ran Oh
Co-convenor / Co-convenor
National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island
* Contact Details:
Ms. Gayoon Baek, National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Paco Michelson, Gangjeong International Team, email@example.com
Please spread the word, come join us at the WCC Assembly in Busan, and thanks for your support!