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Church Thanked for Overseas Work

Monday May 21 2018

The Church of Scotland has been thanked for its prayers and support for the Christian church in various trouble-spots around the world.

During the debate on the report of the World Mission Council, which this year focussed on the interfaith work of the Church’s mission partners, visiting delegates from South Korea, South Sudan and Israel/Palestine praised the Church’s engagement with them, but said the work needs to continue.

The Rev Dr Lee Jae Cheon, of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PRK), said that his church had gone into partnership with the Kirk in 1980 . “Since then, your church has always been with us and never hesitated to support our peace movement. We truly appreciate your contribution for peace. Because of you being with us as an ecumenical friend, PRK can sustain our long march towards peace and unification of Korea…

“My church envisions a peace zone over the demilitarized zone, a peace zone between superpowers in the Asia region.”

Adding that his church would be taking part in an ecumenical peace conference in September, he added the hope that the theme of this General Assembly, ‘peace be with you’ would resonate across the event.  “We still need your prayers,” he finished.

A section was added to the World Mission deliverance commending the mediation and trauma training the Church has helped deliver for church leaders from South Sudan. The Rt Rev Peter Gai Lual of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan told the assembly: “Your prayers have sustained us through the most difficult times, such as when we… hid under our beds as bombs fell. We are truly grateful for your generosity to our brothers and sisters.”

The Assembly also heard from speakers from the Holy Land. Kate Aspinwall of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre said that the centre seeks the liberation of Palestinians from ‘unjust occupation’, but also that it seeks to liberate the ‘Israeli oppressors… because oppressed and oppressor are interlinked’.

And Mary Musallam of Jerusalem: St Andrew’s Memorial Church, speaking on behalf of the Tent of Nations, said: “We can overcome darkness with light and hatred with love under our slogan ‘we refuse to be enemies’.”

During his speech, the convener, the Rev Iain Cunningham, said that interacting with people of other faiths was ‘not an optional extra but at the heart of our identity as followers of Jesus Christ’. “Division is not inevitable. There is an alternative way of being that is life enhancing rather than life-destroying,” he said.

Another new section was added, moved by the Rev Louis Kinsey, instructing the Church to urge Scottish and UK governments to lobby Pakistan over the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who is on death row over blasphemy accusations.

Later, there was a warm reception for the World Mission Council’s report on lessons for the Church of Scotland from Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa (the report, along with all reports to this General Assembly, is available in full on the Church website). Mr Cunningham said that the report had identified some factors ‘that you would expect to find in a healthy, growing church’ but that what was most noticeable about African Christianity was ‘its sense of confidence’. Other speakers suggested that the Church of Scotland could also learn from African churches’ eldership training; and culture of sacrificial giving.

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