Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) Moderator Rev. Dr Soon Chang Lee presents a gift to CCA General Secretary during a visit of the PCK’s leadership team on 27 October 2022 at the CCA Headquarters in Chiang Mai, Thailand;
from left to right: Rev. Dr Young Sang Roh, Rev. Bohyun Kim, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, Rev. Dr Soon Chang Lee, Rev. Hoon Jung, Rev. Grace Moon, and Rev. Chun Jung Huh
Chiang Mai: A delegation of the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK) headed by its newly elected moderator, Rev. Dr Soon Chang Lee, paid a visit to the headquarters of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) on 27 October 2022.
General Secretary Rev. Bohyun Kim, Stated Clerk Rev. Hoon Jung, President of the Korean Mission to Seafarers, Rev. Dr Young Sang Roh, and a missionary in the Mekong subregion, Rev. Chun Jung Huh, were other members of the leadership team of the PCK who visited CCA.
Recalling his participation as a young pastor in 1985, his first time at a CCA’s people-to-people exchange programme for pastors and church workers visiting three different Asian countries, as well as his other involvements including his attendance at the 50th anniversary of the CCA held in 2007 in Indonesia, the PCK moderator said that PCK was committed to supporting and strengthening the ecumenical mission of CCA in Asia, which he considers an important role of his church.
“We are very much thankful for your warm welcome and hospitality. My ecumenical journey started with one invitation letter from CCA in 1985 to attend the Asia consultation on ‘Development and Service in Rural Community’. At the time, I was a young pastor of a local congregation, not knowing much about the ecumenical movement of Asian churches, but surely it was a great eye-opening opportunity for me to learn the importance of churches’ accompaniment with people in need. As we really value the presence of CCA as a leading ecumenical organisation in the Asia region, we have been anticipating this visit to the CCA with a view to strengthening our fellowship and cooperation between the CCA and PCK,” stated Rev. Dr Soon Chang Lee, the Moderator of PCK.
Rev. Dr Lee added that his first overseas visits as Moderator included CCA, which he visited within a few weeks after his election and his acceptance of his new responsibility, thus manifesting his commitment to CCA and its mission. Rev. Dr Soon Chang Lee was elected as the moderator of PCK at its 107th General Assembly, which was held in September 2022.
Thanking moderator Rev. Dr Soon Chang Lee and other members of the PCK leadership team for their visit to CCA, Dr Mathews George Chunakara responded to the delegation’s queries related to CCA’s mission in the changing Asian context and ongoing activities. The CCA General Secretary told the PCK delegation, “CCA’s priorities include ecumenical accompaniment with the forgotten churches in economically less advanced Asian nations, and in those Asian nations ridden with ethnic and religious conflict. Our support and accompaniment are really needed by our neighbours in Asia. As several Asian churches struggle now to survive amidst growing religious intolerance and extremism, violence, human trafficking, human rights violations, the climate crisis and frequent natural disasters, increasing poverty, and a lack of good governance, CCA is demonstrating its prophetic witness in humble ways with the support of many of its member churches and ecumenical partners within Asia and beyond. CCA is committed to paying attention to these realities in Asia and to considering ways of effectively addressing these concerns through our prophetic witness and mission.”
Recalling CCA’s and Asian churches’ accompaniment with the churches and people in Korea during the authoritarian dictatorships and democratisation struggles led by Korean churches and people’s movements, Dr Mathews George Chunakara emphasised the pressing need for Asian churches to collectively accompany churches and communities in vulnerable situations.
The CCA General Secretary expressed the hope that “churches in Korea will seriously consider strengthening their prophetic and Diaconal witness towards the neighbouring nations in Asia with a strong sense of commitment and a feeling of togetherness”.
“Your presence here is a good sign of the affirmation of your commitment and of the cooperation between the PCK and CCA, which will definitely strengthen ecumenism in Asia,” he added.
The CCA General Secretary also shared updates on the progress of the preparations for the CCA General Assembly to be held in 2023.
Rev. Bohyun Kim, General Secretary of PCK stated, “At present, the PCK has sent out about 1,500 missionaries worldwide. In the context of the global landscape of Christian mission facing many challenges, especially during/after the COVID-19 pandemic, the PCK is considering how to strategise our mission activities by making them more holistic, ecumenical, and more effectively responsive to the emerging concerns in the Asian context.”
The PCK General Secretary thanked CCA for its longstanding support and commitment to the mission of accompanying Korean churches for decades and added that “building ecumenical and inter-church relationships is an essential priority of the PCK, and it is with such a vision that PCK will be engaged in its mission, especially in strengthening ecumenical relations in the coming years,” and that in this process, CCA will be a “prime partner”.
Rev. Hoon Jung, the Stated Clerk, also stressed, “Hearing the importance of churches’ engagement in serving the vulnerable people in Asia, it is very important to sensitise the local congregations with the ecumenical perspectives in mission. This should be our priority task to educate and nurture the ecumenical leadership.”
As PCK will be organising a retreat in Phuket, Thailand, for its Seoul headquarters-based staff, numbering 50, in December 2022, CCA’s assistance was sought by the Moderator. He requested the assistance of CCA, especially the facilitation of certain sessions on ecumenism by Programme Coordinator Rev. Jung Eun Moon at the PCK staff retreat.
The PCK leaders also visited the Bangkok headquarters of the Church of Christ in Thailand and met its leadership, prior to their arrival in Chiang Mai for a meeting with the CCA General Secretary and the staff team at the CCA headquarters.