Amid tensions with North Korea, and joining with the World Council of Churches, the general secretary issues a call to prayer for peace.
On this day, 72 years ago, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki – just three days after dropping one on the city of Hiroshima. It is estimated that over 150,000 people were killed over those three days.
Fast forward to present day, the last few months have been met with anxiety and tension around threats of nuclear weapons and warfare. Leaders in North Korea continue to isolate their country as they threaten Creation with nuclear missiles. Leaders in the United States agitate and provoke with threats of destruction. It is during times like these when we must join together in a call for the exhaustion of all diplomatic efforts before turning to military action.
The United Methodist Church believes war to be “incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ.” The Church “insists that the first moral duty of all nations is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them” (2016 Book of Discipline, Social Principles ¶165.C). The United Methodist Church also “supports the abolition of nuclear weapons…We call all nations that possess nuclear weapons to renounce these vile instruments of mass destruction and to move expeditiously to dismantle all nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles” (2016 Book of Resolutions, #6129).
In the Council of Bishops’ 1985 foundation document “In Defense of Creation: the Nuclear Crisis and a Just Peace,” the bishops assert that one of the “most important purposes of Christian peacemaking is the exercise of their God-given power in the political arena.” They affirm two essential means of fulfilling this purpose:
- personal involvement of United Methodist leaders, lay and clergy, at every level in nurturing political action as an imperative of shalom, and
- direct and regular personal engagement of our church members with policy makers in foreign and defense policy.
The bishops also make clear that peacemaking is “ultimately a spiritual issue,” and “without conversion of minds and hearts, the political systems of this world will remain estranged from shalom.”
Because of this need for spiritual and political peace, the World Council of Churches has designated this Sunday, August 13th 2017, as the Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) have prepared a prayer for churches to use on Sunday.
So I call upon all United Methodists to join in prayer this Sunday: for peace on the Korean Peninsula, for peace in the hearts of our leaders, and for peace among all peoples.
May we continue to faithfully follow the Prince of Peace, and find comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul:
“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14)
For more from the General Board of Church and Society click here.
Below is a prayer from the North/South Korea Churches Joint Prayer for Peaceful Reunification for use in corporate worship with our congregations here in the U.S. Unlike the original version of the prayer, in this version, “we/our/us” mean people living outside the peninsula. Please encourage your congregations to include this as part of a communal prayer this Sunday or next Sunday or any Sunday!
Liturgist: Lord, help us all to dream once more, with our brothers and sisters in the Korean Peninsula and around the world, of a beautiful land where no joint-military exercise is needed in the peninsula. Let us welcome a new world where the Korean people are not interfered with or challenged by neighboring strong powers. Let us once again begin with the same overwhelming determination the people in the peninsula had as of August 15, 1945, the day they won independence. Please quickly open the doors of inter-communication. Lord, let the North and South greet each other without prejudice and walk hand in hand for joint prosperity. Help us newly begin here our works for peace, reconciliation, and embracement on the peninsula.
All: Sing “O Lord, hear my prayer” (The Faith We Sing #2200) or “Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying” (The Faith We Sing #2193)
Liturgist: God of grace, bestow your grace upon the whole of Korea. Shine down pure rays of peace from Baekdu Mountain to Halla Mountain, and wet the entire land with showers of joy. Give happiness to the 80 million fellow Koreans throughout the land and this world, and guide them to be leaders of their own lives. Bring our strengthened community to be servants of the world.
All: God of Peace, we pray in Jesus name.
The whole prayer can be found here. You may find it helpful and touching to read Dr. Suh’s story: A Moment of Forgiveness and a Moment of Grace
We believe in the power of prayer, don’t we? This faith teaches and empowers us to take actions! Our actions are taken through intercession, personal dialogue, education, public advocacy, and support of programs for a just peace in this world.