Korean Anabaptism: a Witness for Peace

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From left: Yongha Bae (Korea), Junho Han (Korea), Jina Im (US), Kyunchae Oh (Korea), Jinho Jang (US), Junggyu Yang (US), David Kim (Canada), Sook Park (Canada)

From July 1-6, 2013, over 4,000 people gathered in the blistering Phoenix heat to participate in the bi-annual national convention for MC USA.  Throughout the week, we wrestled with the theme of what it means to be “Citizens of God’s Kingdom” and how we are to move ahead “Healed in Hope.”  Numerous workshops, seminars, learning experiences inside and outside of the convention center were planned throughout the week for the participants to engage in the theme of the convention.

On July 3rd, Korean Anabaptists were given the opportunity to plan a Learning Experience. These Korean Anabaptists  from Canada, Korea, and the US gathered in the designated Phoenix Convention Room waiting nervously to see if anyone would attend the Learning Experience workshop.  Would anyone be interested in a workshop entitled, “Korean Anabaptism: a Witness for Peace”?

016Apparently, people did.

The room was packed with over 60 people who came to the workshop eagerly wanting to hear what has been happening amongst the Korean Anabaptists.  We began the workshop showing the film, “Memory of Forgotten War” which narrated the stories of North Koreans who now reside in the US but their heart longs for reunification and peace in the Korean Peninsula.

Then, we showed another film about Mennonite Central Committee workers who served in reconstruction of Korea after the Korean War.  We had not planned this, but discovered shortly before the workshop, that an ex-MCC worker who served in Korea was going to attend the workshop.  After the film was shown, we recognized and thanked him for his service and sacrifice in the rebuilding.  It was a moving moment witnessing that the seeds of peace he had helped to sow in Korea have raised up Korean peacemakers who were present in the room.

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Namshik Chon shares about the growing interest in Anabaptism in Korea

Next, Namshik Chon, from Dream Church in Daejun, shared about Korean Anabaptist Fellowship as well as the vision of planting Mennonite churches in Korea.  Then, Hyun shared about the vision and mission of ReconciliAsian.  Lastly, Hyungjin Pablo Kim shared about Church for Others, the only Korean Mennonite church on the west coast.

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Left upper corner: Rhoda shows off “I am a fan of ReconciliAsian” fan; Right bottom: Jinah greets Palmer Becker whom she met in Korea several years ago

At the end of the three presentations, the participants were invited to gather in small groups around their table with a large butcher paper, and they were encouraged to write down important questions that these different Korean Anabaptist ministries need to ask as they wrestle with their identity, calling, and mission.  The conversations were lively and insightful. Palmer Becker, the author of What is an Anabaptist Christian? participated in the conversation around the table with Noel Moules of the Anabaptist Network in England and Rhoda Miller Blough of Everence.  Old friends like Jennifer Sensenig and Matt Hamsher who helped to initiate the formation of Korean Anabaptis Fellowship were also present.  Kuaying Teng from MC USA Asian Ministries also came as well as the Riegseckers and the Yordys who have supported Korean Anabaptist ministry endeavors since the birth of KAF.

We have commented that in preparing for the Learning Experience workshop, the facilitators were the ones who learned the most.  The Korean Anabaptist leaders felt deeply encouraged that they were affirmed by the larger Mennonite community, and though their work could be difficult and lonely as they trudge ahead, what they want to pursue is valuable and meaningful.

If you would like to support the ministry of Korean Anabaptist Fellowship, ReconciliAsian, or Church for Others, prayerfully or financially, please contact us at reconciliasian@gmail.com.

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