Joint Statement of the 10th EKD-NCCK Ecumenical Consultation

입력 : 2023-03-07 13:33:10 수정 : 2023-03-07 13:33:10


National Council of Churches in Korea(NCCK), Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland(EKD)

Joint Statement of the 10th EKD-NCCK Ecumenical Consultation,

16th-20th February 2023

Transforming Division and Making Peace For a joint pilgrimage of German and Korean Churches towards Justice, Reconciliation and Unity

“Christ's Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity"

History and context

In the midst of a profound life-security crisis caused by the effects of climate crisis, the COVID-19 outbreak and its continuous mutations, the Russian war on Ukraine, and the hegemonic struggle between USA and China in the context of the newly developing Neo-Cold War Order, in a critical time we have held the 10th Ecumenical Consultation between the EKD (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland) and the NCCK (National Council of Churches in Korea) in Seoul on February 16, 2023 for five days. We rejoice whilst looking back at the faithful ecumenical engagement and their efforts to both deepen their mutual commitment and enhance the people’s security for life in the service of our common Lord Jesus Christ during the last half century. In 1974, the first EKD-NCCK Joint Consultation was held in Düsseldorf, Germany, under the theme of "Social and Pastoral Needs of Korean Life and the Tasks of West Germany." Since then, the two church communions EKD and NCCK have held eight more ecumenical consultations with a common vision of which one included church representatives from North Korea. The 9th consultation was held in Wittenberg in March 2011 under the theme of "The Role of Reconciliation and the Church." The church's commitment for reconciliation and peace, the unification issue, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation, and the 10th General Assembly of the WCC in Busan were discussed.

The 10th consultation was planned to be held in South-Korea in 2021, celebrating the 30th anniversary of German unification and commemorating the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, but due to COVID-19, it was agreed to gather in Seoul in February 2023. This consultation reaffirmed its mutual partnership solidarity through a meeting between the churches of the two countries for the first time in nearly twelve years, shared the tasks of cooperation granted through the 11th WCC Karlsruhe General Assembly in 2022, and considered the church's role as an agent for justice, reconciliation, peace and unity.

Issues, reflections and focal discussion points

In Europe, the Russian attack on Ukraine in violation of international law in 2022 has brought about a fundamental threat not only to the European peace order agreed on after World War II, but to world peace because of Russia's possession of and threat to use nuclear weapons and all that this entails. Also, consequences of this war affect many countries, also in the global South, for example with food crises, higher energy costs, and inflation.

Whilst sharing our views and concerns about the question of peace and war in our respective contexts, we asked for the role of our churches and church communions in these profound and interconnected conflicts both in East Asia and Europe, and the role which concepts of people's security for life, the central role of the nation state and its institutions play here.

Today, in the midst of the multifaceted crises, the global superpowers are continuously designing and redesigning a neo-cold war order by separating the world according to alliances and partner-ships based on their own interests and values, further escalating a hostile symbiotic tension and brinkmanship on the Korean Peninsula and threatening people’s life-security. In this geopolitical situation, the Korea-US and Japan-US alliances, which represent structural root causes of en-trenching the division of the Korean Peninsula and of an emerging neo-cold war order in North-east Asia, are playing as "double-edged swords," this time, based on the Indo-Pacific Strategy, clearly demonstrating that the geopolitical fate of the Korean Peninsula has been held hostage in an ‘alliance trap’ both in South and North.

In particular, South-Korean society has changed a lot since the candlelight uprising led by people power in 2017. Through the Moon Jae-inn government, South-Korean society showed the diversity of civil society, the candlelight movement showed that South-Korean civil society guaranteed fairness, and the Moon Jae Inn government opened a dialogue phase between the two Koreas and led to the U.S.-North Korea summit. However, the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula is unclear as the South-Korean regime has been replaced by the Yoon Suk Yeol government, and the peace process on the Korean Peninsula has been stalled. Furthermore, discrimination and exclusion of the poor, marginalized, migrants, refugees, irregular workers increase, minorities in Korean society are becoming more and more impoverished, and evil laws such as the National Security Law trampled on democracy and freedom of democratic citizens in the past dictatorship. Now, the South Korean church and society are facing many challenges, questions, and tasks regarding what the role of the ecumenical community should be in the face of a pile of tasks. During our consultation, we agreed that people should no longer be seen as passive victims of those conflicts, but must play inter-subjectively a crucial role in stabilizing inflammatory situations created by the power- and division-oriented regimes and in preserving and fostering justice and peace, healing and reconciliation.

For the ecumenical pilgrimage of justice, reconciliation and unity both in Korea and Germany, our intercontinental ecumenical movement must advocate for constructive steps forward and engage in carefully developed joint initiatives for peace and reconciliation.

In searching for specific topics and concrete commitment, our consultation identified several areas of common concern in different contexts and perspectives which may mutually enrich, question and encourage us: We critically reflected on persisting challenges of both the 33-year unified Germany and the peace movement in Korea since the NCCK's 88 Declaration on Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

In this context, we also shared the experiences of both churches in increasingly secularised societies and facing declining membership. Having been the starting point for the ecumenical consultations in 1974 when our church communions advocated for better working and living conditions of Korean workers in Germany, migration and the question of the church's task towards refugees, migrants and other marginalized groups is a burning issue now for our churches both in Germany and Korea. Likewise, in both societies fighting Racism whether based on ethnicity or religion is needed.

Closely connected with, but not limited to that question, we reflected on the vision of a multi-dimensional diaconal church. In times when societies are drifting apart and Christian values are often no longer clearly visible or compromised due to striving for profit, high expectations, a clearer diaconical approach and impact of the churches’ visible diaconical work could set an agenda for a just, inclusive, intergenerational future orientated societies, where Christian values are visible. In both societies with tendencies to a more secular understanding, the diaconical role could set a counterpoint – concepts and ideas here could be shared in the future including also the risk like the question how far it can consist of cooperation, and it should work in line with market conditions.

In our conciliar ecumenical solidarity, we, the EKD and the NCCK, should never let the logic of "the economics of war" and “the politics of war” control our understanding of the Korean and European peace processes. The ecumenical solidarity of the EKD and the NCCK should strengthen civilian peace diplomacy involving Christians from the relevant countries. By enhancing people’s peace-capital in a realistic international political environment we can help changing the direction and quality of the current international diplomacy that lays buried in national interests. As a common task of cooperation between the churches of the two countries, we should open a safe and sustainable dialogue to build peaceful relations between the two Koreas so that various generations can form peace talks and reopen civilian exchanges between citizens of the two states. In addition, we will continue to work together as an ecumenical community to understand the situation in neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines amid long colonial and historical trauma, national-security autocratic ideology, poverty, grievances, and the climate crisis. For this, cooperation also with the Christian Council of Asia (CCA) is needed and welcome.

The faith based community of EKD and the NCCK as a community of healing and reconciliation will strengthen our role and capabilities as peacemakers and promote a Eucharistic solidarity based on mutual confidence, while establishing the will to trust and take risks following our beliefs.

As seen in the theme of the WCC 10th Busan Assembly, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace,” and that of the WCC 11th Karlsruhe Assembly, “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity,” justice and peace are the two inseparably interdependent axes that sustain the whole web of life, and the love of Christ is the moving force to recreate the wounded and broken world into a healed and reconciled one world. Justice and peace are the core of people’s security for life, and it essentially requires an embracing and integrating process of justice and peace, that is, a spiritual and strategic process of healing and reconciliation.

Without an ongoing process of healing and reconciliation, there will be no integration between justice and peace, no giving of life and no life abundant, and therefore no people’s security for life. In the process of healing and reconciliation, the Truth in Christ’s Love leads the way to justice and peace, and all healing, reconciliation and unity are therefore ultimately rooted in God.

The meetings and conversations of the consultation have clearly indicated that both Korean and German Churches were bound by friendship and solidarity with each other as we have been for the last 50 years journey together.

In order to broaden our theological understanding of God's mission in which we are participating and in order to strengthen mission cooperation and kindred friendship, our churches are to share the experience of just reconciliation and unity to give evidence of Christ's love for our neighbor and for the stranger and the peace of the gospel. For understanding more deeply the differences between tradition and politics and culture, joint research and efforts must be made together to achieve human rights, social justice, overcoming division and world peace, and for this purpose, mutual ties and cooperation of our churches in different continents must be strengthened through real and deepening encounter.

Therefore, the Korean and German Churches should continue mutual visiting exchanges between various leaderships and church groups in each regional body, working-level, and all generations, not least to share their experiences and learn from and with each other. For throughout our consultation various testimonies have indicated that the experience of such intercultural exchange at a young adult age is life-forming. Ecumenical formations such as volunteer programs and EFK (Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification & Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula) young adult peace seminars are essential for sustainable and long lasting development, and they pave the way to future ecumenical understanding and solidarity.

Furthermore, partnership work, for example on the church district level, should be strengthened. For this, the important role of Korean congregations in Germany, represented in the convention of the Korean congregations in Germany, and the German speaking congregation in Korea should be valued as "Bridge builders".

We, the NCCK and EKD, invite our member churches and ecumenical partners and people of good will everywhere to join the journey towards reconciliation and peace in the world and within our societies with renewed energy, in close partnership and transparent relationships to each other and with the churches and Christians in both our church bodies. We agree that the diverse societal consequences of the socio-ecological transformation in our societies, such as the increasing differences between rich and poor, the consequences of labour migration and flight, growing racism and the demographic change in our communities and societies, mean that we share responsibility and help shape those challenges. Together we want to discuss and develop sustainable models of inviting communities with spiritual charisma and a diaconial profile in the spirit of a 'church with others'.

Action plan and suggestions

1. On this common, mutual, prayerful journey together we commit ourselves to:

a) Embody the spirit of courage, caring, communication, confession, conciliation and commitment.

b) Pray with people and churches of Korea by designating the Sunday before 15 August as the "Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula".

c) Organize solidarity visits to churches in Korea and Germany that can serve as peacemakers and bridge builders. A first encounter should be the young adult peace seminar hosted by EFK in Seoul at the end of July 2023. Participation of youth from both countries should be ensured.

d) Continue accompanying the churches of NCCK and EKD by providing a common platform for member churches and ecumenical partners from both Korea and Germany to come together in order to advance towards reconciliation and peace. Online seminars and personal exchanges, for example from churches, Universities, diaconial institutions, and during pastoral education should be fostered and initiated, as well as volunteers' programs. The exchange of youth, students, theological lecturers, pastors, diacons, and other volunteers and ecumenical encounters in Germany and Korea should be encouraged and supported in order to provide opportunities for understanding better the other context and for learning from each other, and to envision a desirable common future for the two church communions and countries.
We recognize that a historically symbolic moment for such initiatives could be found in 2024, the centennial year of NCCK.

e) In a changing world new topics and issues should be tackled such as intergenerational justice, climate change, sexual violence, gender and diversity, or work-life balance. Ways and means of interaction should be sought for taking up these and other issues.

2. Furthermore, we commit ourselves to take actions to:

a) Participate in the Korean Peace Appeal (KPA) Campaign for ending the Korean War and transforming the Armistice Agreement into a Peace Treaty. For this, we the NCCK and the EKD may actively participate in the KPA Campaign.

b) Join the WCC’s ecumenical advocacy project “Light of Peace” this year. To join the KPA Campaign process we may invite our partner churches, particularly those whose countries were involved in the Korean War as combatant states in various forms – 16 states for direct combat, 6 states for medical support, 40 states for material support, and 6 states for post-war rehabilitation support.

c) Call upon all foreign powers in the region to participate in a creative process for building peace on the Korean Peninsula by halting all military exercises on the Korean peninsula, by ceasing their interventions and reducing military expenditures.

d) Enhance peoples’ peace capital through a praxis-oriented “positive” peace education and develop a civilian alliance of peace diplomacy. In this course, we may provide various peace platforms for young generations both in North and South Korea to meet together in order to envision a common future for the Korean Peninsula.

e) Being in solidarity with those who are suffering in the context of Asia (after COVID 19) from Militarism and authoritarianism, poverty and inequality, from climate crisis, Gender and Sexuality discrimination, and where despite the bloody grassroots struggles in Asia, military rule and authoritarianism still survive. The liberated Asian countries were taken into the cold war framework without a chance to clean up the waste of colonialism. Liquidation of colonial vestiges, rooting-out of militarism, and establishment of economic justice are the ways toward a just and peaceful society. As the upholding of universal values along with the global network led by the ecumenical movement has supported Korea's democratic movements during military dictatorship, churches and the ecumenical community have to act for supporting peace in Asia.

f) Regularly conduct various forms of the global ecumenical prayer movement for healing and reconciliation of the Korean Peninsula. For this, the EKD in cooperation with the NCCK and the KCF (Korean Christian Federation) may organize the “Sunday of Prayer” along with their member churches. For making peace, we Christians do not have weapons of war, but we do have prayer.

g) Work with the EFK and the governments of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in providing international cooperation to maintain a truly Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and transform it into a zone of peace.

We, the NCCK and EKD churches together and with our ecumenical partners, both in our own context and cooperating internationally, will be the main actors of this journey. We, too, consider our reflections and plans to be an invitation and suggestion for individuals, parishes, and communities to participate in the movement of justice and peace for the Korean Peninsula, Germany and beyond. The main subjects of peace-building are us, “we the people,” who live on the democratic values of sovereignty resting on every human being. The crucial key points are the people’s consciousness of peace-sovereignty, and our will for building a peace-alliance in solidarity with love and justice. For a continuing Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, let us deepen our spirituality of reconciliation and unity and develop our strategy and expertise for enhancing social reconciliation and visible unity for the suffering, marginalized and the weak. Let us develop the EKD-NCCK’s ecumenical capacity in faith-based civil peace diplomacy by mobilizing all the relevant personnel resources of our member churches and partners.


We are a fellowship on the move, a community of pilgrims. We journey together towards life in all its fullness. We pray for God’s guidance and inspiration, so that our journey of love and solidarity will open us to one another through dynamic and creative interaction for justice. May the triune God of life lead us to be living instruments of justice and peace. We sincerely hope that the Holy Spirit will be the driving force of the EKD-NCCK Peace Solidarity as an indispensable people’s peace-alliance, so that the Holy Spirit makes us embody the love of Christ that moves us to reconciliation and unity.

February 20th, 2023

Protestant Church in Germany (EKD)
National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK)