Moderator backs fresh appeal to give peace a chance

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has backed a fresh appeal for peace on the Korean peninsula.

Right Rev Dr Derek Browning said he "warmly endorsed" an impassioned plea to the international community issued by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), which is increasingly alarmed by the “war of words” between the USA and North Korea.

Derek Browning
Right Rev Dr Derek Browning

Tensions have been mounting following six missile tests by the North Koreans.

The rhetoric has led to the United States’ Air Force deployment of a B1-B bomber beyond the Northern Limit Line (NLL) under South Korea’s silent consent.

In response, North Korea has vowed to exercise self-defense procedures against the US.

NCCK is appealing to all peace-loving governments, churches and people to “prevent war and give peace a chance”.

Dr Browning said: “In every time of international tension, the need for dialogue and the determination to listen to what those we disagree with have to say is essential.

“It is one of the marks of civilised society.

“It is my personal hope and prayer that the tension between the United States of America and North Korea will be resolved through diplomacy - both talking and listening.

“I warmly endorse the appeal made by our brothers and sisters in the NCCK, and pray that the path of peace may not only be found, but followed.”

Nuclear tests

An armistice ended the Korean War in July 1953 but a formal peace treaty has never been signed and the peninsula remains one of the world’s most dangerous regions.

A NCCK statement, signed by representatives of nine Korean churches, said: “As apostles of peace, the Korean churches, together with 10 million followers, strongly oppose a second war in the peninsula and therefore would not tolerate any forms of military actions aggravating the situation.

"Hence, to resolve the current severe crisis in a peaceful manner, we sincerely appeal the following to the governments, churches and civil societies in the world:

  • The United States should immediately halt its military threats as well as sanctions on the North Korea and create an atmosphere for a peaceful dialogue.
  • North Korea should stop its nuclear tests and respond to the dialogue requests of the neighbouring countries including South Korea and the US.
  • We demand denuclearisation to all nuclear power states including the US as we support 'denuclearisation of the whole world' declared by the World Council of Churches.
  • South Korea should consolidate all its efforts to bring the US and North Korea to the table for dialogue.

China has told North Korean companies operating in its territory to close down as it implements United Nations sanctions against the country.

The move is part of an international response to North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

The UN Security Council, of which China is a member, voted unanimously for fresh sanctions on September 11.

New Testament

Korean Christians have a special connection to Scotland because it was Balintore-born missionary, Rev Dr John Ross, who helped establish the religion in Korea.

Dr Ross, who was an elder at Mayfield Salisbury Church of Scotland in Edinburgh and is buried in the city, served in north-east China.

While there he met traders from Korea and went on to make a Korean translation of the New Testament, which he finished in 1887.

The Scottish Korean War Memorial is located near Bathgate in West Lothian.