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PROK E-NEWS / June 2008 (2008-06-28 오전 10:30:39)

관리자(총… (서울북노회,베델교회,목사) 2010-01-29 (금) 01:31 14년전 4864  
 
PROK E-NEWS
June 2008
 
PROK in Focus
 
1. The unquenchable candlelight protests
 
For more than two months the thousands of unquenchable lights of burning candles have formed a billowing ocean of yellow dots arranged in organic artistry as seen from the bird’s-eye view every evening on the main thoroughfares of downtown Seoul. Initiated in mid-Aprilby middle-school students voicing their concern about the safety of U.S. beef, the candlelight vigil became a continuing protest action. While the initial motive of the candlelight protests was to call for the renegotiation of the US-Korea beef-import deal, various civil-society groups joined the nightly rallies, expanding the scope of their protests from beef to political issues, criticizing other proposed policies of President Lee Myung-Bak, such as the inland canal project; privatization of such public services as water, gas and electricity; and his English education policy.
 
From a small number of students the nightly vigils swelled to hundreds of thousands, reaching a peak of as many as one million nationwide, including 500,000 in Seoul alone, on the night of June 10, the anniversary of the historic June 1987 democracy movement protest. Participants in Seoul included church people from member churches of the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK). In the all-night vigil pastors and lay leaders of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) and other protestant churches gave speeches on various social issues affecting the life of the people, including the US-Korea Free-Trade Agreement, and the proposed privatization of national health insurance and other social services. Church leaders and members participating in the vigil vividly recalled the dark days of military dictatorship. They challenged church people to continue to be prophetic witnesses in this present time marked by a resurgence of the conservative right as expressed in the policies of President Lee Myung-Bak. Christian youth, including members of the PROK National Youth Association and members of the Ecumenical Youth Council of Korea (EYCK) are among these prophetic witnesses as they actively participate in the protests and try to prevent violence.
 
On some nights the candlelight protesters have been beaten and forcibly dispersed by anti-riot police using water canons, resulting in injuries. The PROK Church and Society Committee in response issued a statement denouncing the repression of the just and peaceful demonstrations and calling on the government to halt repression of the people’s right to free expression and assembly and to prosecute and penalize the police commanders who ordered the violent dispersal of protestors, demanding their public apology for the use of violence.
 
The widespread protests, including in cities other than Seoul, have thrown the government into crisis, and President Lee Myung-Bak’s approval rating has plummeted. Continuing talks with the US have resulted in a few revisions of the beef import deal, but the formal announcement of the Korean government on June 26th of putting the import protocol into effect has further angered the protesters who are demanding a complete re-negotiation of the US-Korea agreement.
 
The candlelight vigils will continue as long as the government pursues its own political and economic interests at the expense of people’s health, democracy and peace.
 
 
2. PROK expresses solidarity with Myanmar sisters and brothers
 
The terrible cyclone Nargis which slammed through the southern areas of Myanmar on May 2, 2008 devastated the country, killing almost 140,000 people and leaving more than 2 million people homeless. International aid workers say that more than 200,000 people have not yet received any help.
 
Responding to the cries and suffering of the people of Myanmar, the PROK Church and Society Committee immediately called a meeting and decided to launch an emergency appeal to all PROK congregations for donations for relief aid and reconstruction work. Two PROK representatives, including Rev. Kim Jong-Maeng, Chair of the Church and Society Committee, subsequently made a visit June 12-14 to Yangon to bring financial aid and to express solidarity with the people and the churches, particularly the Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC).
 
Through their visit to the cyclone-hit areas and several meetings with MCC leaders, the PROK agreed that its financial support be used for some of the relief work the MCC has initiated:
 
1) The PROK will provide affected farming families with basic farming equipment such as hand-tractors. As experts are warning that Myanmar will face prolonged food shortages if farmers do not return to the fields and plant their rice crops within the next few months before the monsoons, the people in the hardest hit areas are very concerned about the food supply.
 
2) Since the Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT) was heavily damaged by the cyclone, a portion of the PROK donation will be used for reconstruction of the MIT. The MIT, an ecumenical institute, has contributed to developing church leaders for many decades.
 
3) The members of the Myanmar Student Christian Movement (SCM) have been very actively involved in the post-cyclone relief work, and a portion of the PROK donation will support their sacrificial voluntary work.
 
The PROK plans to participate in the roundtable donor conference, organized by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), in Bangkok on July 5th in order to cooperate with Asian churches which are responding to the cries of the people of Myanmar with the love and compassion of Christ.
 
 
3. PROK team visits the Reformed Church of France
 
Earlier this month, from June 9-16, eight PROK delegates including the Moderator Rev. Lim Myung-Kyu and lay Vice-Moderator Elder Hong Chung-Il visited the Reformed Church of France, or Eglise Reforme de France (ERF). The ERF hosted these PROK leaders, ministers and elders as part of the ERF-PROK exchange program which began with the visit of ERF members to the PROK in July 2007 (E-News Aug/07). The main objectives of the visit were to learn more about the theological legacies and traditions of the ERF and to deepen the ongoing partnership between our two churches.
 
In the first few days the PROK delegates visited some historical places of the reformation such as Rue Visconti in Paris, known as ‘little Geneva’, and met with leaders of the ERF. Through the visits and meetings the delegates vividly experienced the powerful reformation spirit at all levels of the life and mission of the ERF, inherited from the French reformer, John Calvin.
 
The delegates had the opportunity to meet several volunteers of Paris Batignolle Church who are helping migrant people settle in France. They also visited an ERF centre for homeless people in Paris, which provides counseling services. “The concern and compassion of the ERF for the marginalized minority groups in our society is a strong expression of our historical experience as we, as Protestants, have been severely oppressed by the state and the majority Catholic Church for a long time,” said one of the volunteers in the Paris Batignolle Church.
 
The delegates also enjoyed a two-day exposure program in Geneva to visit the head offices of the WCC and WARC where they shared with the leaders of the WCC and WARC the common challenges and vision of the ecumenical movement.
 
At the end of the PROK visit, the two churches held a brief meeting to deepen the ongoing partnership and agreed on the following:
1)      The ERF will invite PROK delegates to Paris and Geneva to participate in the special “Calvin 2009” events celebrating the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth.
2)      The ERF Paris Theological Seminary will provide full master-degree scholarships to PROK young leaders who wish to study theology in France.
 
As the encounter between the two churches deepened during the exposure program, both churches came to realize that there are many similarities in the life and mission of the ERF and PROK, and renewed their commitment to ecumenical cooperation.
 
 
4. PROK welcomes DPRK’s declaration of its nuclear weapons program and destruction of the cooling tower
 
Today, June 27, the PROK through its Peace and Reunification Committee issued a statement welcoming yesterday’s declaration by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of its nuclear program and its plan to destroy the cooling tower at its main nuclear reactor. While recognizing that these steps do “not mean the perfect accomplishment of the denuclearization and peace of the Korean peninsula,” the PROK believes that these actions “can be a significant first step toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula… and can revitalize efforts for normalization of DPRK-US relations and for peace on the Korean peninsula.” The statement urges the Korean government also “to actively cooperate for peace on the Korean peninsula” and calls on “all nuclearized nations to abandon their nuclear weapons programs.” “We will closely watch the course of developments and continue to pray for the realization of God’s peace on the Korean peninsula and around the world.”
 
 
PROK E-News is a publication of The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK).
Editor: Rev. Yoon Kil-Soo, General Secretary

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