A six-person international ecumenical delegation with representatives of the World Council of Churches and the World Communion of Reformed Churches leadership has visited Pyongyang in North Korea.
WCC general secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit and WCRC general secretary Rev. Chris Ferguson, the North Korean capital from May 3-7 at the invitation of North Korea's Korean Christian Federation.
After the visit they released a statement saying, "We celebrate and affirm the joint declaration of commitment to realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula."
This they said is, "in the context of our efforts for a nuclear-free world through advocacy for universal ratification and implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)."
The visit took place just a few days after the historic events of the Inter-Korean Summit at Panmunjom on April 27, where South Korean President Moon Jae-in his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un met.
There they jointly signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula in which they pledged to "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula."
The WCC said that these extraordinary initiatives have created a new momentum for peace which the delegation strongly wishes to affirm, support and encourage.
It said that the worldwide ecumenical movement has been engaged in promoting dialogue, peaceful co-existence and the reunification of the divided Korean people for more than 30 years, especially since the 1984 'Tozanso Consultation' convened by the WCC.
The WCC said that relationships with the North Korean church body and South Korea's National Council of Churches, the WCC and WCRC member churches in South Korea have been at the center of this ecumenical solidarity movement for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
"We give thanks to God that today we are able to celebrate together with KCF and the NCCK the political commitments expressed in the Panmunjom Declaration, encompassing so many long-held ecumenical hopes and aspirations for peace on the Korean Peninsula," said the WCC.
It said these include especially the commitments to joint efforts to alleviate military tensions, to promoting inter-Korean exchange and cooperation, to achieving a peace treaty to replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement, "and the solemn declaration that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula."
The statement celebrated the joint declaration of commitment to realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
This is the context of the churches efforts for a nuclear-free world through advocacy for universal ratification and implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)."
During the visit to North Korea, the delegation met and discussed with representatives from the KCF, as well as with Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples' Assembly and with Dr. Ri Jong Hyok, president of the National Reunification Institute.
MEETING IN SEOUL
Tveit and Ferguson met in Seoul prior to traveling to Pyongyang with Cho Myoung-Gyon, South Korean Minister for Unification, and the ecumenical delegation met with President Kim Yong Nam of the North Korean Supreme People's Assembly.
They emphasized the "importance of the role of church leaders and faith communities in past and future efforts for peace and reunification of the Korean people."
The delegation saw the Inter-Korean Summit and its outcomes as an almost miraculous new spring for peace in the region, after months and years of dangerously escalating tensions.
"We visited Pyongyang in a beautiful new spring season, not only in the natural world but also in the relations between the people and governments of the Korean peninsula," said Tveit. "We know that spring is also a season in which to work, to ensure that we reap a good harvest of what has been sown."
WCRC's Ferguson, "Together, the WCC and the WCRC are committed to mobilizing our churches around the world in support of these new steps towards the peace that we have so long sought and desired for the people of the peninsula and the northeast Asian region."