Day 5 29.10.16
After a hearty breakfast with the President of Honam Theological University and Seminary we reflected with Professor Song InDong on the influence of Christian forefathers on Korean Christian thinking especially Eugebe Bell a missionary sent by the Presbyterian Church in the US and founded and served as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Korea as well as founding schools at Gwangju station; next came a full and frank conversation with Chang-Bae Byun as to what the Memorandum of Understanding between the URC and the PCK could, and should, in reality mean (there are exciting times ahead); a visit to the May 18th National Cemetery where the multitude of graves of those who took a stand for democracy against unfair government martial law for 10 days from 18th to 27th 1980 was moving beyond words. Gwangju is proud to be the city of democracy and rightly so (Gwangju mean ‘village if light’); a visit to Bonhyang Church and the story of a church which began with a handful of people in 1980 and now houses thousands for worship under the leadership of Rev.Dr. Young Nam Chai, former Moderator of the PCK, was inspirational and testament to the Spirit’s work of reconciling humankind to God; another Korean meal saw us on our way back to Seoul; a quick coffee with a group of Hungarian pastors at Seoul Station revealed a connection with Southern Synod in that Dr. Abraham Kovacs has taught a number of our Ukrainian Students who serve the Sandwich and Thanet Cluster – it’s a small world although a visit to a local market with its hustle and bustle may have suggested otherwise.
Final Day 6 30.10.16
Morning worship on ‘Thank, thank the Lord’ with drama, dance and song at Myeongseong Presbyterian Church, Korea’s foremost mega church seating 7200 in the new church building. Today for Thanksgiving Sunday they used the old church as well totalling over 10,000 worshippers. Led by its senior minister Rev. Dr. Kim Sam-Whan we learned of the history of Christianity coming to Korea for which we should give thanks. Once again Robert Jermain Thomas of Hanover Chapel (National Synod of Wales) was commemorated for his part in bringing Christianity to Korea for which he sacrificed his life. After worship we joined the 72,000 people from worship and the surrounding area for a harvest lunch of beef stew for which 17 cows had been sacrificed we were told. The two church spires are a reminder of service and prayer- the two tenets which underpin the churches’ teaching. A quick tour of the museum has left me feeling uncomfortable about what I saw but I cannot deny the power of the Spirit was moving in this place.