Preservation of the environment is the focus of Christian Unity Octave in South Korea. (Photo: Unsplash)
Catholics and Protestants in South Korea are focusing on ecological conservation for the common good of the world during prayer meetings and seminars to mark Christian Unity Octave from Jan. 18-25.
The declaration was made by the Korean Council of Christian Faith and Order, also known as the Korean Faith Ministry, ahead of Christian Unity Octave, a joint initiative of the World Council of Churches and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong of Gwangju is one of the co-conveners of the forum that includes the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, National Council of Churches in Korea and Korean Orthodox Church.
The theme of this year’s Christian Unity Octave is “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (John 15: 1-17), which draws inspiration from the ecumenical and monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland.
“The closer Christians come to the Lord, the more they can overcome all sorts of divisions caused by minor misunderstandings,” the council said in a statement.
“We can stay in Christ, accept the price and sacrifice for reconciliation as part of our lives, and share love. When the time comes, the dreams and hopes we all desire in the world will come true.”
Referring to the Covid-19 pandemic, the council noted the ongoing crisis has disrupted social life across the world and it was caused by human damage to the ecosystem.
“In order to keep God’s order for creation, we should not cause harm to ecology and the environment. It is our responsibility to be united to ensure preservation of the natural environment,” the council said.
Meanwhile, it also noted that in the past divisions existed between Christian groups and there have been renewed efforts to overcome weaknesses.
“As we pray for Christian unity, we repent of old divisions and speak of new hopes. We have been striving to overcome the past when the strong oppressed and exploited the weak. The church has walked this path together in solidarity with civil society.”
The council has planned a range of programs including ecumenical prayer and discussion meetings that will be held virtually due to Covid-19.
On Jan. 19 evening, thousands are expected join the Korean Christian Unity Prayer Meeting online that will be broadcast live on the Korean Faith Ministry’s YouTube channel.
South Korea has a population of about 51.8 million, according to census data released last month.
According to Pew Research Center, about 46 percent of South Koreans adhere to no religious faith while 29 percent are Christians and 23 percent Buddhists.
Christianity has grown in South Korea spectacularly from just 1 percent in the 1900s to 29 percent in 2010 thanks to the work of missionaries and churches over the past century.
While Protestants make up the majority, the Catholic Church also has a significant following, estimated to be 11 percent of the population or about 5.6 million Catholics.