Rev. Park Hyung Kyu, a pioneer of the Korean churches’ ministry among the urban poor and a Christian leader who actively participated in the Korean democracy movement passed away on 18 August 2016. The octogenarian Christian leader served church and society in various capacities. He was moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Republic of Korea (PROK).
Rev. Park Hyung Kyu’s unique role in initiating Korean Christians’ early participation in people’s movement was widely recognised. He was the first chairperson of the Seoul Metropolitan Community Organizing (SMCO) committee, the forerunner of the Korean Urban Poor Mission movement, when it was officially founded in 1971. He led the Christian movement against political forces which oppressed the self-reliant life of the Korean people during the authoritarian military regimes in Korea in 1970’s and 1980’s.
In a condolence message, the General Secretary of Christian Conference of Asia Dr. Mathews George Chunakara described, Rev. Park Hyung Kyu, “a committed Christian leader, theologian, a tenacious fighter who stood for human dignity, and a political prisoner who epitomized the Korean Christians’ aspirations for a new church, new confession of faith, new theology and the process of the budding and growth of new actions based on their Christian faith and witness”.
Dr. Mathews George recollected the role of Rev. Park Hyung Kyu “in shaping the theological convictions and undergirding of churches participation in people’s struggle for freedom and human rights”.
He played a noteworthy role in developing the much publicised Theological Declaration of Korean Christians, issued in May 1973, which has been compared to the ‘Barmen Declaration’ of the German Churches under Hitler. The wide publicity and recognition to this document publicised by the Korean churches during the military dictatorship within and outside of the country disturbed the rulers and subsequently Rev. Park Kyung Kyu was arrested and imprisoned in July, 1973. The World Council of Churches and the churches in many parts of the world advocated for the release of Park Kyung Kyu.
In a meeting with the visiting delegation of WCC to Korea in early 2013, Rev. Park Hyung Kyu greatly acknowledged the role of the World Council of Churches and the international ecumenical community who came forward to condemn his arrest and imprisonmentas well as sustained advocacy forhis release from the prison.
Rev. Park Hyung Kyu served as a member of the team of ‘Standing Advisors to the Host Committee of WCC’s Tenth Assembly’ held in Korea.
The funeral will be held in Seoul on Sunday 21 August.
Click here to read Condolence Message by CCA General Secretary Park Hyung Kyu 21 August 2016