Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pilgrimage of Peace

The weekend in Korea was spent being part of a group of 800 who made a Pilgrimage of Peace on Saturday up to the border of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea as well as a trip to Seoul for a Korean cultural night, overnight accommodations and worship in a local Korean congregation on Sunday.
The Pilgrimage of Peace began with a train trip from Ulsan Station in the southern part of Korea near Busan to a little north of Seoul at Haengshin. From Haengshin we took buses to Imjingak Peace Park, right up against the fence of the DMZ.

There we travelled to the the pond for a service of prayer, music and dance to pray for peace.

Following custom, we then pinned ribbons with prayers for peace on the fence itself at the end of the Bridge of Freedom, which is now cut off and ends at the border.
It was a dearly moving experience and allowed the WCC Assembly participants to join with the aspirations of the South Korean people for peace, reconciliation and reunification.
We then boarded buses for the trip to Seoul. Once in Seoul, we arrived at the largest Christian church in Korea, the Myungsung Presbyterian Church, for an unbelievably festive dinner and a Korean Cultural Night that was outstanding from the Fan Dance to the Drummers' Dance to the singing, the children 's choir, the pantomime of Korean history and the the singing of opera to the accompaniment of the KBS Symphony Orchestra. It was truly amazing and ended with a heartfelt rendition of the Korean folk song "Arirang" as well as Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.
The Roman Catholic group was then bused to a hotel for the night. The next morning, we had the privilege of attending and concelebrating the Mass at the Cathedral of Seoul, called the Myeongdong Church, which barely survived the Korean War and has been beautifully restored.
The Catholic hosts then took us to a local restaurant for a great meal and we were off to the Seoul train station for our trip back to Busan.
The event would not have been possible without the intricate planning of the Korea Host Committee and its legions of volunteers. It was a remarkable encounter and experience.

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