US, Korean church bodies to host peace conference

(Photo: Reuters / Kim Hong-Ji)A visitor poses for a photograph next to fence decorated with ribbons, on which people have written their hopes for peace and reunification of the divided Korean peninsula, near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul April 14, 2013.

U.S. and Korean church bodies are sponsoring an ecumenical conference in May that will focus on tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

It will discuss ways for participants to build a coalition that will pursue steps to officially end 60 years of war between North and South Korea.

Speakers for the May 15-17 Ecumenical Korea Peace Conference  in the Atlanta, Georgia area will include  Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and Rev. Syngman Rhee, former President of the National Council of Churches USA who was also a former moderator of the Presbyterian Churches (U.S.A.).

Event sponsors include the United Methodist Church and the National Council of Churches in Korea.

The theme is "Embrace Peace, Pursue It: From Armistice to Just Peace on the Korean Peninsula."

The organizers say the purpose of the conference is to learn about the issues, enable participants to advocate for ending the conflict, and build a coalition that will take the next steps toward establishing peace and reconciliation in the peninsula.

"It is time for Christians in the two Koreas and around the world to renew a divine call to be peacemakers," states a brochure for the conference.

The conference venues for the event will be Korean Church of Atlanta UMC in Duluth, Georgia. Organizers. Registration closes on April 25.

Sponsoring groups include:

- Korean American National Association of the UMC Committee on the Korean Reunification and Reconciliation
- General Board of Global Ministries, UMC
- United Methodist Women
- Korean Ministry Plan, UMC
- National Council of Churches in Korea
- National Network of Korean United Methodist women

Other speakers include:
- Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, Resident Bishop of the United Methodist Church Wisconsin Area, who chairs the 2013 Ecumenical Korea Peace Conference Planning Committee
- The Rev. Jaejung Lee, chair professor at the Sungkonhoe University, Seoul and former Minister of the Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea
- Dr. Christine Ahn, Executive Director of the Korea Policy Institute, who also serves as Senior Research and Policy Analyst for the Global Fund for Women.

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