Worship service focuses on Demilitarized Zone
July 24, 2006
By Joan G. LaBarr*
SEOUL, South Korea (UMNS) — Sunday, July 23, became a new Day of
Pentecost as some 300 delegates from the World Methodist Conference
participated in a worship service on peace and reunification at Imjingak
(the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea).
The clouds that had been omnipresent all week broke, and sun streamed down
on the outdoor service.
Bishop Shin Kyoung Ha, president of the Council of Bishops of the Korean
Methodist Church, led the efforts to hold the service at one of the most
volatile places in the world. Earlier in the week, members of the World
Methodist Council approved a sweeping resolution for reconciliation and
peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
"Even though two rivers meet together here, people from the North and South
cannot meet. It is our reality and our pain," Shin explained. "This place is
meaningful as people from the South come here and call the names of loved
ones in North Korea with a tear."
Bishop Sunday Mbang, prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria and
chairperson of the World Methodist Council, declared “a new Pentecost in
Korea” at the service.
"Open the door of heaven and pour your Spirit on your children," he
preached. "Do what you did at Pentecost so that none of us will be the same
again. We will become your agents of reconciliation and love."
Acknowledging the risk of coming to Korea during a time of high tension,
MBang observed that, “With God, nothing is impossible. The God I worship is
a God of victory. God will do the unexpected. Are you ready? God is going to
use you to do the unexpected.
"By the power God has given me, and I extend that power to you, I proclaim
this Demilitarized Zone as God’s temple of love and reconciliation. Angels
have taken over, and this place will become God’s temple."
Three young women refugees from North Korea offered one of the most moving
moments of the service with their sacred dance. They were described as
converts to Christianity and very sincere in their faith.
As participants released hundreds of colored balloons into the sky during
the closing of the service, conference leaders began a march to the site
where a placard will be placed, commemorating the time Methodists from all
over the world came to pray for peace.
Following the service, delegates were bused to the observation post
overlooking North Korea. In a briefing conducted by a representative of the
South Korean military, they learned that the mountains in the north have
been stripped of trees by people searching for firewood as the famine in the
*LaBarr is director of communications for the United Methodist Church’s
North Texas Annual Conference. She managed the World Methodist Conference
newsroom in Seoul, South Korea.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or