Friday, October 2, 2015

Seoul Day Five

Seoul Day Five

Woke up to a beautiful day in Seoul -- the sun is shining, and the heavy rain yesterday has made everything sparkle.

The opening keynote today is by our own the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop. "The world needs the confidence that peace is possible." "Reconciliation is the foundation of God's mission." Always a gifted preacher and teacher, our Presiding Bishop talked eloquently about the efforts of peace making and creative ministry that are in process throughout this area of the world. TOPIK -- bringing together old enemies in talks of peace and reconciliation. In other areas, addressing climate change, over mining and fishing -- offering lament, calling attention to the wrongs done to the environment and the various group's responses to these abuses. This is but a small offering of the myriad list of efforts of EAM communities in this region. "EAM communities are inviting us to put a new virus in our DNA -- to see our neighbor not as an enemy but as a friend." "The violence of this world is  born of scarcity." 

The Rev. Bayani Rico addressed the group -- asking for those who attended the workshop on Social Ministry in Korea -- there are more social ministries in Korea than there are Anglican Churches in Korea -- it is a focus of their work in the world.  The Foreign Laborers Center was awarded a gift of money from EAM -- Fr. Columba accepted the gift to support the ministry of the center. I had visited there four years ago -- it is a rich and complete ministry.

Our own Aidan Koh introduced the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Yang to the group.  Jeremiah began his speech by apologizing for his English -- which he did not need to do -- he speaks beautifully. His reflection on    spirituality   is linked to mission shaped spirituality. Mission shaped church is a work to restore the missionary nature of the church. If done, it can reform and reshape the church -- it is a new approach to spirituality. He talked with us in depth about the ferry disaster last year which I will try to capture here -- 250 high school students were among the dead. Students in the sinking boat in their last minutes exchanged text messages with their families and friends -- sharing their last thoughts with those they love. It was gruesome torture for those who couldn't do anything to help them -- their loved ones. It was two hours of self-reproach and agony for those following the event. A few days later people began to realize that the disaster was avoidable -- behind the disaster was corruption, bribery and political and business power. Many theologians in Korea were condemning the underlying theology of the company owner -- which was tied to a theology of capitalism and collusion of a distort Christian spirituality -- its underpinnings was a prosperity gospel tied to capitalism. 

Korean churches responded to the disaster with relative silence -- not questioning what happened -- thinking it was an accident. They did not mourn with the victims families and friends. Easter Sunday fell just 4 days later -- most churches preached and celebrated Easter as usual -- they lost the ability of mourning and reflection -- the loss of the ability to mourn was a great issue. The chair of the Christian Council questioned later why poor students were going to Jeju Island -- a form of continued coverup of the truth of the disaster -- blaming the victims -- criticizing the victims and their families. Families are still wanting to know exactly what happened and what will change in the future. Jeremiah went on to say that we become real human beings when we develop the ability of listen, lament and mourn. God listens to those who mourn -- that is our model -- not sweeping emotions under the rug, but looking at the situation, listening to those who mourn -- lamenting and mourning with them, and then working to change the situation or structure that caused the pain. This is the work of the church. This is the starting point of transformation -- let us move to mission, restoring the nature of the mission of the church -- restoring our missionary heart, our mission shaped church, which listens to and mourns with those who suffer. 

A question and answer session followed with the two keynote speakers. 

We piled into busses afterwards and headed on the one and one half hour drive to Gang Hwa -- the Iona of Korea. We were greeted warmly by Bp. Kim, the retired Bishop of Seoul. This is his home town. We walked to the parish hall and enjoyed a delicious lunch! This church is named WARM WATER
CHURCH because that is the name of the city (this is translated into English).  We had a delicious lunch made and served by members of the parish. You can see me and some of the ladies in the selfie -- they particularly were amazed that I am a woman bishop, and one of them took a picture of my ring!

After lunch, the Rev. Moses Im offered us a history of the church in this area -- one of the oldest in the Province.  The church we were in is relatively new building, with the original church which is over 100 years old nearby. September 26, 1890 the Bishop arrived in Incheon port -- the Bishop began his mission in Seoul and Incheon. He founded orphanages and other forms of mission including medical
ministries. Priests found this island and felt that it would be a starting point for the Church. In 1893 he walled a small house here. 

On Ganghwa Island there are 12 Anglican churches, and 150 Methodist churches!

We are actually on the South of the Island sitting in the church -- we will be heading out to a point farthest north where we can see North Korea. 

At the farthest north point we visited the Peace Wish Park, with it's overlook of North Korea. It seemed so close that you could just swim a little bit and get to it! It is always a bit sad for me to be in a place like this -- to think about and reflect on the separation of families. There was music playing -- Aidan told me it was a sad song (a lament) -- about the people who can't see their beautiful mountain (it is in
North Korea). It was a sad song, and it kept repeating. It was absolutely beautiful up there after the rain -- and it was a peaceful scene on both sides. This tranquility was broken when I looked down towards the shore and saw barbed wire. 

The church we visited next (the original one) was constructed by Charles John Cofe, the inaugural Bishop in Korea in 1900 in commemoration of Koreans who had been baptized in 1896 in Ganghwa island for the first time -- this was the first set of baptisms on the island! The church was named for Sts. Peter and Paul. A royal architect lead the work project. Several renovations were done in the years since, but it still remains in its original form. This building site resembles the Ark, demonstrating the
church's image of salvation. Based on the Korean traditional style, this rectangular shaped church applies the Basilica style to its placement and interior, representing the beauty of harmonization of western and Korean aboriginal architectural techniques. We were greeted very warmly here and shown the grounds and given this history of the church. It is small on the inside but really beautiful!

We went down to the parish hall after our tour of the small church campus (upper campus). The parish hall is a more modern, multilevel building where we enjoyed a delicious dinner! The parish members were very friendly and helpful. They kept wanting to give me more food! Bibimbap with lots of veggies, a salad, glass noodles....yum!

After dinner we got back into our buses for a short ride over to the auditorium where we saw a cultural presentation on Korea. We heard traditional instruments playing traditional (and some more recently
composed) pieces. The woman who played the haegeum -- a two stringed bowed lute was especially amazing. A Gayageum was also played -- it looks like a large zither. Another performer played something that looked like a penny whistle -- but the sound was amazing. Drums of course were played. After four traditional pieces were offered, a keyboard, electric base, guitar and drum set were added and fusion music including the traditional instruments was offered -- beautiful! These are very talented students/musicians!

We left there about 9 pm for the hour long drive back to the cathedral and then the walk back to the hotel. It will be an early morning and a long day tomorrow. I wonder what the 125th anniversary Eucharist in the morning will be like?

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