The World Council of Churches interim general secretary Rev. Ioan Sauca has expressed alarm and dismay at the destruction of the joint liaison office in Kaesong, a special city in the southern part of North Korea.
The office was opened in 2018 to facilitate communication and cooperation between the two Koreas - and renewed threats of military action on the Korean Peninsula.
"Together with its members and partners in Korea and around the world, the WCC has worked for more than 30 years to facilitate encounter and dialogue between North and South Koreans, and to promote an end to the conflict and division on the Korean Peninsula," Sauca said in a statement on June 17.
"Particularly after the high hopes raised during 2018, and coming just as we approach the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, yesterday's events are a bitter disappointment and a dangerous escalation."
Sauca noted that there have been many fluctuations between hope and despair during the more than 30 years of ecumenical engagement for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Still he said, the Christian faith is a foundation for steadfast hope and commitment to seeking an end to conflict and division on the Korean Peninsula.
"We call on both North and South Korea, and all relevant parties, to refrain from further escalation, to return to the table of dialogue, and to renew commitment to a patient step-by-step process of tension reduction and trust-building," said Sauca.
"We call on both North and South Korea, and all relevant parties, to refrain from further escalation, to return to the table of dialogue, and to renew commitment to a patient step-by-step process of tension reduction and trust-building," said the WCC leader.
"We appeal to all parties to mark the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War not with renewed confrontation, but as an opportunity to bring that long-suspended state of war to an end, and to move towards the establishment of a secure and durable peace."
North Korea blew up a joint liaison office with the South near the North's border town of Kaesong, the BBC reported June 16.
North Korea's move came just hours after Pyongyang renewed threats of military action at the Korean border.
The site had been left empty since January due to Covid-19 restrictions.
In a statement, South Korea warned it would "respond strongly" if the North "continues to worsen the situation".
The destruction of the office, it said, "abandons the hopes of everyone who wanted the development of inter-Korean relations and peace settlement in the Korean Peninsula".
"The government makes it clear that all responsibility of this situation lies in the North."
North Korea has blamed the escalation on Seoul's inability to prevent defectors from flying anti-regime propaganda over the border, the BBC said
On June 17 the WCC said that a Joint Ecumenical Peace Message for the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War would be presented at an online event on June 22.
Titled "Ecumenical efforts for peace on the Korean War's 70th Anniversary," will be hosted by the World Council of Churches.
During the event the Joint Ecumenical Peace Message will be read by representatives of churches and councils of churches around the world, including the countries that participated in the Korean War, promoting the peace and reconciliation message for the Korean Peninsula in church circles and beyond.
The event will support the 2020 Global Prayer Campaign for the Korean Peninsula to promote ecumenical cooperation in advocating for a permanent peace regime in Korea.
The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, and the World Council of Churches, together with the National Council of Churches in Korea, launched a Global Prayer Campaign.
Titled, We Pray, Peace Now, End the War," the campaign invites all churches and Christians to join in prayer for the formal end to the Korean War and the replacement of the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty.
The two sides are still technically at war as they have never signed a peace treaty.