Tag Archives: Republic of Korea

Purple flowers, Republic of Korea 4

Potential Purple Flower Gimhae Traditional House 26 March 2013 (1024x683)


potential purple flowers
would be a better title.

26 March 2013
Gimhae, Republic of Korea


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Purple flowers, Republic of Korea 3

Gimhae Traditional House 26 March 2013 (1024x683)


A stew of purple beauty
greets visitors to the
Traditional Korean House Gimhae.

26 March 2013
Gimhae, Republic of Korea

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Purple flowers, Republic of Korea 2

Seotal Oreum Massacre Site 23 March 2013 (2) (1024x683)

Purple flowers, unplanted, mark
the site of the
Seotal Oreum Massacre:

In 1950, after the Korean war broke out,
the Korean government issued orders
of “preventative detention”
of suspected communists and communist sympathizers.
Of the 344 people the Moseulpo Police detained,
210 were illegally massacred in two mass killings at the base of Seotal Oreum.

The people
and the flowers

23 March 2013
Seotal Oreum, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea

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Purple flowers, Republic of Korea 1

Purple Flowers Gwangju Presbyterian Church 19 March 2013 (1024x683)


For the Lenten season
for always,
purple flowers decorate
the Presbyterian church in Gwangju.

Gwangju, Republic of Korea
19 March 2013

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Reflections on the World Council of Churches General Assembly

The World Council of Churches recently concluded their 10th Assembly. The Assembly met in Busan, Republic of Korea.

When I traveled to Korea this spring, I had the privilege to address the Busan WCC Preparatory Committee.

I did not return for the Assembly. Part of me wishes I had. A large group of Presbyterians attended, including colleagues and friends. Hearing of their experiences reminded me of my Korean connections.

In addition to the news accounts from the WCC and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), many of the participants wrote and blogged about the Assembly. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly, wrote several reflections

For analysis of the Assembly through the lens of gender and racial justice, check out the blog of my friend Laura Mariko Cheifetz. Here are her current postings along with some teasers.

I know, I should really appreciate everyone’s voices being shared. I should make sure that any decision-making process allows for all voices. But consensus is just as complicated a process as is Robert’s Rules/parliamentary procedure, and the process combined with limited time allowed for discussion really can quash serious disagreement and discussion (unless you’re a dude, according to this meeting).

We have theological and Biblical reasons for our long-standing ecumenical activity. Succumbing to our desire to hoard our diminishing resources and the influence of the isolationist/conservative element in the PC(USA) would be a theological statement – that we believe we do not have enough. We believe in scarcity. We believe that our own institutional preservation is of greater theological value and import than our commitment to being part of the larger Christian family.

There is a line between tokenizing and fetishizing young people’s voices, and genuinely holding up their leadership. Let’s be clear, the church is usually behind other social institutions in giving young people real responsibilities and taking them seriously.

And a highlight of my day, besides the mens’ statement, was going to the steps outside the convention center with hundreds of other participants in the pre-assembly for a group picture, with women from all over the world singing “We Shall Overcome.” This, from women who had just been discussing trafficking of women and children, and sexual violence. There is plenty of hope here. I can’t wait for tomorrow, for the beginning of the assembly.

A woman selling food by the beach gave me a look when I said I was American. I took that to mean that she didn’t quite believe me because of my looks (this is a frequent problem I have when traveling in other countries – I don’t look white, don’t have blond hair or blue eyes, and I like spicy food, so I do not seem very American to some). I said my mother’s family was Japanese, and she walked away. I know that just because my family wasn’t in Japan, and spent a few years locked up in concentration camps in the U.S. for being Japanese, does not make much of a difference to a people who were systematically terrorized by a brutal and dehumanizing regime.

Like many with privilege, I want to squeeze myself into a corner and not take up too much space out of an awareness of that privilege. Of course, as an under-40 woman of color, there is another part of me that knows disappearing is not the answer. Making myself small and withholding my contributions to the work is just another way to exercise privilege, or to allow those from my denomination and country with more personal privilege to dominate. So I will participate. In fact, I think I’ll be working my ass off, dancing between contributing the appropriate amount and making sure my contributions are not dominant over the contributions of others with less economic and social power in this religious world. At least I’m aware that I should not dominate the conversation.

Laura also posts a number of photo blogs:

If you want to learn more about the WCC General Assembly, check out Laura’s work. She says more will follow.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

A special family

20130821_122412On Wednesday, 21 August, Rachel Lee and Esther Lee visited the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations – where I work. We took a tour of the UN and had great conversations.

I had never met Rachel and Esther before Wednesday, but I am friends with their aunt – the Rev. Dr. Hyunju Bae – and their uncle – the Rev. Dr. JC Lee.

Hyunju and JC arranged my trip to the Republic of Korea.

In May, JC brought a Doctor of Ministry class to New York and we had a great visit.

Wednesday brought another blessed day and another blessed visit.

And now I am friends with more members of this special family!

I look forward to see who I meet next.

See you along the Trail.

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Pray for peace on Korean Peninsula

My friends Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger serve as the Young Adult Volunteer coordinators in Daejeon, Republic of Korea for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They offer this prayer for PC(USA) members to use during the season of prayer called for by the statement on the Peace of the Korean Peninsula. It is posted here with their permission.

God of the universe, God of the nations,
The people of the Korean Peninsula are crying out,
They no longer wish to live in the shadow of war,
They no longer wish to have resources diverted from life toward death,
They no longer wish to live in fear of the next possible misjudgment in calculation and rhetoric,
They yearn for healing and truth,
You call us to be a people of light, of life, and of peace,
But we have stood silent as our country perpetuates the machinations of death, darkness, and war.
How long, O Lord, must the Korean people live in a state of war?
We confess that we stood by and watched as we split an unwilling country into two,
We confess that those we voted into office ignored the context of a people tired of colonization,
We confess that our military has taken advantage of Korean gratitude,
We confess that our SOFA agreement denies justice to all those harmed by our representatives,
We confess that military presence comes hand in hand with the presence of brothels and sex trade,
We confess that we would much rather pretend this is “their problem,”
We confess that we believe we have no responsibility,
We confess that we hope to continue a policy of isolation despite its ineffectiveness,
We confess that we find it easier to continue the tired old song of hostility than to boldly move toward peace,
Help lead us into a future with the possibility of life,
A future where tools of death are laid down and the call of life,
Rise up a passion for justice, for peace, and for advocacy in your children,
Give our leaders the creativity to find new effective steps toward peace,
Give us the will to reunite families,
Help us lift up the voices of peace within the Korean Peninsula,
Gracious God of forgiveness and healing,
May we be transformed into effective agents
in partnership with the people of Korea
in making your Heavenly Commonwealth of Peace a reality on this planet.

May it be so.

See you along the Trail.

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