KCF appoints new leadership

Erich Weingartner with Rev. Hwang Min U, chief minister of Chilgol Church, and Rev. Ri Jong Ro in Pyongyang, November 2012. (Photo by Stuart Lyster)

Erich Weingartner with Rev. Hwang Min U, chief minister of Chilgol Church, and Rev. Ri Jong Ro in Pyongyang, November 2012. (Photo by Stuart Lyster)

We reported last year on the death of Rev. Kang Yong Sop, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Korean Christian Federation (KCF), the only officially authorized Protestant church body in North Korea. (see “North Korean church leader Kang Yong Sop dies“, 23 January 2012)

For more than a year, this vacancy has been unfilled. This morning I received a fax from Pyongyang announcing the appointment of Rev. Kang Myong Chol as the new Chairman of the KCF. Kang Myong Chol had previously served as Chair of the Pyongyang City KCF.

At the same time, Rev. Ri Jong Ro was appointed KCF Vice-Chairman. Ri started in KCF as an interpreter, accompanying Kang Yong Sop at numerous international meetings, as well as visits by KCF delegations to churches around the world. He later studied theology and was ordained. He subsequently served as Director of the KCF International Affairs Department, maintaining relationships with the World Council of Churches and various denominations such as the United Church of Canada.

Text of his fax reads as follows:  Read the rest of this entry »

Christian Conference of Asia sends letters of concern to both North and South Korea

[The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) is a regional ecumenical organization representing 17 National Councils and 100 denominations (churches) in 21 countries throughout Asia and the Pacific. Henriette Hutabarat Lebang, CCA General Secretary, sent a letter regarding the crisis on the Korean Peninsula to its member churches on 12 April 2013. In addition, she addressed both the (North) Korean Christian Federation (KCF) and CCA member churches in South Korea. We reproduce the CCA letter to the KCF below. All three letters may be accessed by following these links: Letter to CCA Members, Letter to Member Churches in South Korea, Letter to KCF. –CanKor]

CCA logo 3April 12, 2013

From Christian Conference of Asia

To Korean Christian Federation (KCF)

Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Greetings of Peace!

It is with a great anxiety and concern that we receive the news these days on the increasing tensions in the Korean peninsula. As this time of uncertainty for an immediate solution to reach the goal of a more peaceful atmosphere in the Korean peninsula, the Asian churches uphold all our brothers and sisters in the Korean peninsula in our prayers. We pray to God almighty for divine intervention in overcoming the tensed situation, the suffering of the people and the threat of war. Read the rest of this entry »

WCC general secretary calls for end to increased tension on Korean peninsula

[The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has called for an end to the increase of tensions on the Korean peninsula and encourages the parties involved to move immediately to dialogue about peace, reconciliation and reunification. The WCC comprises 349 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 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. –CanKor]

Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit (Photo by Peter Williams, WCC)

Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit (Photo by Peter Williams, WCC)

The situation on the Korean Peninsula is of increasing concern to the WCC not only because of the impact on its member churches in South Korea, but also for the Korean Christian Federation in North Korea with which the WCC has developed long term dialogue and relationships.

The WCC is scheduled to celebrate its 10th Assembly in the South Korean city of Busan from 30 October to 8 November this year. The assembly is held once every seven years and brings together Christians from around the world in one of the most diverse gathering of churches.

“We have no plans to have our assembly anywhere else but in Busan,” Tveit said. “The theme of the assembly is ‘God of life, lead us to justice and peace.’ It is now that the Korean peninsula needs a message of justice and peace.” Read the rest of this entry »

North Korean church leader Kang Yong Sop dies

New Year's greeting by Kang Yong Sop

The Rev. Kang Yong Sop, chair of the Central Committee of the Korean Christian Federation (KCF), passed away in Pyongyang on 21 January 2012, at the age of 80. I have known  Kang for more than 20 years. On the same day his death was announced, I received a New Year’s greeting card bearing his signature.

Rev. Kang Yong Sop at a WCC Consultation in Hong Kong 2009. (Photo WCC)

Rev. Kang was the son of another Protestant pastor, with family links to Kim Il Sung. Prior to his ordination, Kang served as North Korean ambassador to Romania. He was a member of the Supreme People’s Assembly and on occasion chaired sessions of the SPA. As KCF Chairperson, Kang led numerous delegations to foreign countries, including Canada on at least two occasions. He forged links with overseas churches and the ecumenical movement, attending three Assemblies of the World Council of Churches, as well as participating in numerous church-related events where both North and South Koreans were in attendance.

Under his leadership the KCF became active in humanitarian projects, building noodle and bread factories and distributing food, clothing and other items donated by churches abroad. Two Protestant church buildings exist in Pyongyang, as well as the KCF headquarters and a theological school for training deacons and pastors. Bongsu Church, the larger of the two, has recently been rebuilt, financed by South Korean churches. Read the rest of this entry »

Second food shipment from NCCK travels by truck across the DMZ

[The National Council of Churches in (South) Korea recently sent a shipment of flour to the (North ) Korean Christian Federation via the heavily-guarded Demilitarize Zone at the site of the Kaesong Industrial Park. Because of South Korean government restrictions, the first shipment in May was sent through the Amity Foundation in China. The Rev. Mrs. Heawon Chae, Executive Coordinator of the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean peninsula sent us this report. –CanKor.]

According to the report by 5 US based aid organizations which visited North Korea on September following last March visit, it is said that large numbers of people are suffering from chronic malnutrition and are facing with starvation due to reducing rations.

In this situation, the NCCK sent the second food shipment amounted 180 tons of wheat flour to the Korean Chrisitan Federation. The shipment was transferred to the KCF by truck at the Bongdong station, Gaesung city, just across the border between the North and the South. Read the rest of this entry »

2011 Common Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of South and North Korea

[Since the late 1980s when North and South Korean Christians first met, the (North) Korean Christian Federation (KCF) and the (South) Korean National Council of Churches (NCCK) have agreed to an annual joint day of prayer on or near the 15 August liberation day that is celebrated by both parts of Korea. Here is how NCCK General Secretary the Rev. Kim Young Ju explains it: “On August 15, our nation of Korea will celebrate its Independence Day. That day commemorates our liberation from outside occupation, and the renewal of an independent country from ‘Baekdu Mountain (on the northern border with China) to Halla Mountain (on Jeju Island in the south)’. In the years after that Liberation, tragic events led to the present partition of Korea, and the division of our one people. We pray for the day when peaceful restoration will come and our nation will again be one. The NCCK invites all partners to share in our common prayer on Sunday, August 14.” The text of the common prayer follows here. –CanKor.] Read the rest of this entry »

Ecumenical group calls for end to food blockade of North Korea

[The World Council of Churches is an ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948. Today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. This post is taken from a WCC press release dated 27 June 2011. –CanKor.]

The silence of the international community to the plight of millions of North Koreans facing starvation and severe malnutrition was of deep concern to the members of an ecumenical forum for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula, which met last week, 16 to 19 June, in Nanjing, China.

The group, the steering committee of the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reconciliation, Reunification and Development in the Korean Peninsula (EFK), called on churches and the ecumenical community to advocate and lobby governments, the United Nations and the European Union to end the current strategy of using food as a political weapon to isolate the North Korean government and cause its downfall. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea’s Christian Federation (KCF) responds to delivery of food aid by NCCK

A letter of “deep appreciation” (dated 6 June 2011) was received by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) from the Rev. Kang Young Sup, Chairman of the KCF.

“In his message to me,” writes Rev. Kim Young Ju, NCCK General Secretary, “he expressed the KCF’s support on various efforts of the NCCK for justice, democratization, peace and reunification especially during a time of difficult circumstances in our country. Rev. Kang Young Sup said that the KCF has started the distribution of the flour to the kindergartens based on an overall distribution plan for 3 townships. He gave details for each kindergarten and indicated that about 31,400 children would benefit from this shipment. The KCF asked NCCK to send additional humanitarian aid for 8 townships in North Korea. They mentioned concrete quantity (480 metric tons of flour) needed for 106,800 children of some kindergartens.”

CanKor previously reported that the NCCK was under fire from the Lee Myung-Bak administration for sending unauthorized food aid to North Korea. (See “Related Articles” below.)

Rev. Kim’s communication was received at CanKor from his assistant, Rev. Ms. Hwang Bo Hyun. (Please read in full here.)

New Role for CanKor Brain Trust Member Victor Hsu

CanKor Brain Trust member Victor Hsu, visiting Professor at the KDI School of Public Policy and Management in Seoul, has been appointed as Consultant on International Affairs for the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK). The NCCK is preparing the upcoming World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly which will take place in Pusan, RO Korea, in October 2013. Rev. Kim Young Ju, NCCK General Secretary stated that Prof. Hsu was invited to serve in this role because of his extensive experience in international affairs and special knowledge and expertise about the Korean peninsula. It is hoped that the (North) Korean Christians Federation (KCF) will be able to send delegates to the WCC General Assembly in Pusan. Although the KCF has attended several previous WCC events, this would be the first time a North Korean Christian delegation has participated in an event in South Korea. With a trusted relationship to the KCF that spans 25 years on behalf of several organizations, Prof. Hsu is well placed to guide the NCCK and the WCC in this endeavour. (An announcement in Korean is appended below.) Read the rest of this entry »

NCCK calls for humanitarian aid to North Korea

The National Council of Churches in Korea has drafted an open letter to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak calling for a resumption of food aid to North Korea. Open letter included below. Korean-language version can be found here.

President Lee Myung-bak,

We pray that God’s Grace be with you and your ministry.

Expressing our deep regret on the situation of escalating tension between the two Koreas and of cutting off dialogue, exchange and cooperation, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) which has been praying and working for peace, reconciliation and well-being of people on the Korean peninsula prays for reopening of dialogue and cooperation based on the spirit of agreements and joint statements by South Korea and North Korea for improving their relationship. Read the rest of this entry »

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