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Excitement in Korea!

There is a real sense of fresh hope around the breakfast tables and in the conference hall this morning!

The overnight news that the leader of North Korea has agreed to meet the leader of South Korea and has made it clear that ‘it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed’ has enlivened the whole group. At the beginning of our first session everyone in the hall spontaneously held hands and gave thanks for this progress in the long journey towards peace on the Korean peninsula.

As we turn to our communique on this our final morning, we are glancing at our American participants, since the progress now hinges on the US engaging in talks. The US President says he is ‘ready to go hard in either direction’ so we have a critical responsibility to pressure and encourage him to go hard in the direction of dialogue and peace.

The chair of this morning’s session is a Methodist minister from our Partner Church, Korean Methodist Church, who has been leading humanitarian relief efforts and prayer for North Korea for many years (and called a ‘communist’ and insulted for it). He says he has asked God many times, ‘How long, O Lord?’ but now he feels that it is because the many partners round the world represented here are praying, ‘we can see Spring rain beginning to fall, ending the cold winter of division’. We hope he is right!

Steve on Wednesday


Peace in Korea

Our Conference here in Seoul is entitled ‘Cultivating Peace, Proclaiming Hope’ and is celebrating the 30th anniversary of what is known as ‘The 88 declaration’. In this, the Declaration of Korean Christian Churches on the National Reunification and Peace, the South Korean churches adopted mission goals for peace and reunification. The declaration not only upholds self-sovereignty, peace, and the grand national unity, the principles of the North and South Korean governments’ Joint Communiqué on July 4, 1972, but also humanitarianism and people’s participation in the reunification discussion.

Interestingly, the minister sent to give the government’s greetings to our conference today was very optimistic about the visit of two government envoys to the North taking place as he was speaking and which, he was hopeful, would include a visit to Kim Jong Un himself and translate the momentum achieved during the Olympics into a real dialogue.

Among several other moving contributions today were

· The representative of Mission 21, Jochen Kirsch, giving a piece of the Berlin Wall to the new General Secretary of the National Council Churches of Korea (pictured)

· A recent defector from North Korea describing the pressures exerted on him by the South Korean Security Services

· A survivor of the Jeju massacre describing what took place in 1948 under US military rule resulting in 30,000 casualties

· A keynote address from the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, affirming the call of Christians to be ‘peacemakers, not warmongers’.

It’s a challenging conference on a topic vital for peace in this region, and arguably in the world, and the global ecumenical community has a clear contribution to make.

Steve on Monday


I am in Korea and am pleased to have spent time today with my long time colleague Revd Susan Nam, who oversees mission personnel for the Korean Methodist Church. You see her here with the statue dedicated to the ‘comfort women’ who were abused by the Japanese military during their occupation of Korea from 1918 onwards. The statue faces the Japanese embassy.
As the Olympics draw to a close here there is much talk of change and hope. Koreans from both sides of the armistice line between North and South have been seen cheering and competing together. The new President has a new approach and special envoys are crossing the border for talks this week.
We support the churches here in their work for peace and reconciliation and hosted a delegation at the British Conference last year as they met leaders in several parts of Europe advocating for a Peace Treaty to replace the armistice on the Korean Peninsula. This year that effort focuses on N.E. Asia and we begin a three-day Conference tomorrow on the role of the ecumenical community in building a permanent peace system on the Korean Peninsula.
Steve on Sunday

Offering the hope of Christ on the streets of Chillán

Pastor Huguette continues to inspire us as we travel together in Chile. She is constantly speaking to Haitians on the street as we walk, encouraging them, offering them hope in Christ, reminding them that God has not forgotten them. She works closely with Mariela (our NMA) to ensure that the Haitians she meets know how to find the local Methodist Church so that they can receive love, care and support.

Photo: Pastor Huguette speaking to two Haitian young men in the ‘Catedral’, a famous Catholic Cathedral in Chillán.

Every blessing,


A welcome home for Haitians

During our short time in Chillan we visited a small town called Quimchamali, where the Methodist Church has a small Chapel. Behind the chapel is a welcome ‘house’ for Haitians, although it is actually a single room that used to be the Sunday School room. The church offers this space for Haitians who have no employment to stay until they can find work and pay for accommodation. However, Pastor Alejandra’s dream is for the church to build a welcome house with 20 rooms on the land behind the church. I have now heard and seen the Methodist Churches in Chile work without a designated fund or budget for their work with Haitians, so I am in no doubt that by faith this dream will become a reality for the Church in Chillán one day. Please join the church in praying for finances to build this much needed welcome house.

We were very blessed to visit the family who looks after and leads the congregation in the chapel, and spent time praying and worshiping God with them.

Every blessings,



We are also here in Chile with Revd Nigel Cowgill, London District Chair, and Becky Cutcliffe, the London District’s communications and project officer. They are here to learn about the Methodist Church in Chile’s response to migrants and feed their learning and experience here into the Moving Stories project on migration of the London District. For more information on Moving Stories please visit the website: .

We all attended the church in Chillán’s service last night, and enjoyed worshipping with Haitian brothers and sisters. Chileans say that Haitians are changing the way they worship and bringing their particular way of worshiping God into the church. Most Chileans welcome this and it was wonderful to hear the Haitians singing so passionately to the Lord as they received a blessing from Revds Laurence and Nigel as part of communion.

One of the things that Haitians at the church are asking for is for a space to meet as Haitian Christians, to be able to worship together in Creole and hear preaching in Creole. However they do not wish to form their own church but are keen to be integrated into the church as members (they start membership classes in March). Their requests remind me of the numerous Methodist fellowships that exist in the British Connexion who enjoy the support of a Chaplain. The Methodist church in Haiti has been meeting in their assembly in the last week and one of the items on the agenda was to decide on whether they would be able to send a minister or a lay pastor to work with Haitians in Chile. I look forward to finding out how this partnership between Chile and Haiti, that our Connexion has been supporting, develops in the near future.

Every blessing,


Seasonal work in Chillán

In the capital of the Bío Bío region, Chillán, seasonal workers from different parts of Chile are able to find work in the summer months (between December and February) Chileans and migrants, including Haitians will travel to Chillán to work in surrounding farms and pick seasonal fruit and veg. The work is not paid well but they are more likely to secure work contracts through this type of employment, which assists them in extending their visitors and working visas.

Revd Alejandra Romero, the minister of the Methodist church in Chillán, told us that Haitian migrants started coming to her church in January 2016. As a church they started to collect clothing, mattresses and donate food to the church’s kitchen, to help meet some of their more immediate needs. In the winter months they were opening the church’s kitchen every day to allow Haitians to cook for themselves and other Haitians. There is a severe shortage of employment in winter months (there is little harvest to pick), so Haitians have little opportunity to make enough money to feed themselves, so the need during this time of the year is great. They are currently opening the kitchen every Sunday during the summer months.

The Methodist Church also works with local businesses to find work for the Haitian community, and local businesses trust the church to find them good workers. Revd Alejandra briefs those who are going to start work, encouraging them to work hard and work with integrity, so as to preserve the name of the church and the good relationship they have with local businesses, which will in turn help other Haitians. The church also offers Spanish classes to the Haitian community and is in the process of applying for scholarships from the local college so as to enable 12 Haitians to begin their studies in Chile.

Please join me in praying for Revd Alejandra as she assumes her new post of Superintendent for the region, becoming the only woman in the church’s executive cabinet.

Every Blessings,


Photo: Revd Alejandra and her husband Revd Hugo, who is an indigenous Mapuche and works extensively with Haitian men in the church in Chillán and also an advocate for the Mapuche community at a national level.