Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A visit to Korea

The WCC Assembly, held every 7 years, will meet in Busan, Korea, from 30th October to 8th November, 2013. It’s a unique moment for the whole fellowship of member churches to come together in planning, prayer and celebration. Korea was selected to host the Assembly because of the unique ecumenical “horizon” that the witness of the Korean churches offers the wider ecumenical movement. The theme is 'God of life, lead us to justice and peace'.

Along with the WCC member churches, partner organizations and other churches have a strong presence at the event. This makes a WCC Assembly the most diverse Christian gathering of its size in the world. It is a unique opportunity for the churches to deepen their commitment to visible unity and common witness.

The DIAKONIA World Federation (DWF) has been invited to attend as an ecumenical partner, and I am privileged to represent DWF at the WCC Assembly. 

I will also have an opportunity to visit some of the sisters in the Diakonia Sisterhood in Korea. I am inspired by their work, and especially at their care and compassion for older citizens, giving them a sense of purpose in older years.

Serving older people - Sister Rhee, Young-Sook
The Diakonia Sisterhood in Korea (originally published here)
“There are so many old people in Korea who have nobody to care for them. We have decided to take them in so that they can live and die in dignity”
(Sister RHEE Young-Sook)

It is mainly old people in need of care who find care and refuge with the Diakonia Sisterhood. Using donations, the sisterhood is building an old people’s home.“Where are our talents most needed?” is the question that the sisters always ask themselves afresh. So in the last few decades their work has continued to develop. They began with a health project that became a pilot project in the region around the port of Mokpo. Some years later the greatest need was care for old people because industrialization had destroyed traditional family structures. And so the sisters began to care for elderly people who were living alone in the poor areas of Mokpo. Working with the city, they built welfare centers for them. They help with the practicalities of life and take care of old people who are sick and without health insurance or caring relatives. Some of the chronically sick live in a home on the sisters’ premises. Fifty men and women have found a new home in the recently opened nursing home. There they are cared for and given pastoral assistance and spiritual companionship until their life’s end. The sisters are planning to extend the old people’s home.

Please pray for preparations for WCC and also for the Diakonia Sisterhood in Korea and their life-giving work to vulnerable and elderly people. 

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