Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Seoul Impressions (3)

Written by Rev. P. Vander Meyden
Reflections on the ICRC Conference in Seoul, South Korea

Fraternal Fellowship
One of the stated purposes of the ICRC Constitution is: "To encourage the fullest ecclesiastical fellowship among the member churches." Accordingly, part of the benefit of the ICRC meeting is that it gives the delegates an excellent opportunity to meet with delegations of other member denominations. On Monday afternoon we made use of the opportunity to contact the Free Church of Scotland delegates (Rev. Dr. Clement Graham, Rev. John Ross, and Rev. John A. MacLeod). It was an open and encouraging contact. The delegates have recommended to the Free Reformed External Relations Committee to consider a proposal to synod about working toward a limited form of fellowship with the Free Church of Scotland.

Rev. Bilkes and I also had an opportunity to meet with the delegates of the Canadian Reformed Churches, Dr. N.H. Gootjes and Rev. C. VanSpronsen. In the discussion it seemed to become clearer to us that they had no difficulty about recognizing more than one denomination in a nation as "true church." They also recognized that the oneness of the church has at its basis, not only the oneness of confession, but also a union in Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit. We expressed that we found the publications of Prof. Dr. C. Trimp constructive. We look forward to more movement toward an appreciation (and an appropriation) of the experiential element in preaching. We agreed that these matters could use some more discussion between us. The Canadian Reformed brothers indicated that some approach from their part was forthcoming and possibly would be considered at their upcoming synod. We appreciated the brotherly spirit in which we could have this discussion.

Seminary Construction
There were about 10 Korean students who had come to visit the conference from the theological seminary of the Kosin church which is presently at Pusan, in the south east part of South Korea. However, a new seminary is being built, much closer to Seoul. On Wednesday the hosting church treated us with a tour of this Seminary construction site, a national memorial and a folk village.

At 7:30 AM we were picked up by two large tour busses, and, while traveling south, we were each treated to a "boxed" breakfast on the bus. After an hour and a half ride, we arrived at the (new) Korean Theological Seminary to the south east of Seoul, in the area called Chu-An.

The Korean Theological Seminary being built by the 134,000 member Presbyterian Church of Korea (Kosin) will house the seminary which is now in Pusan. It will include a chapel which will hold 1500 people, a library of three floors, a building with 200 dormitory rooms and will be able to handle up to 700 students. The 30,000 square metres of floor space will cost $28 million US dollars. The people of this denomination have a very strong commitment by their prayer, attendance and gifts for the Lord's service. They are looking to the Lord to use this seminary as part of the means to unify their nation spiritually. The lofty location on a hillside overlooking a valley and much of the population of Korea over the hills beyond enables the students to look out over the needy masses of their fellow countrymen and then look up to the Lord from Whom they hopefully expect a great work of His Spirit.

A Tour of Korean History and Culture
From the seminary we reboarded the busses and were taken to visit the Independence Hall of Korea. This is a combination memorial-museum which was built to commemorate Korea's national independence from Japanese occupation. It was begun in 1983 and opened in 1987. Various halls contain artifacts tracing a 5,000 year history of struggle against Japanese aggression as well as a celebration of Korea's determination in the face of severe oppression. Independence came at a great cost to the Korean people. The movement toward independence started with the reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1919 and culminated in W.W.II in 1945. Hindered by the division of the land and a confrontation with Communism, general elections were finally held in 1948 and the Republic of (South) Korea was established. Korea today has achieved a remarkable level of development and is struggling to maintain a stable economy. God has been merciful to the Korean people.

After lunch on the bus, we were brought to Yong-In Folk Village, which is a large park of reconstructed homes representing different time periods in the history of Korea and displays of the movement from ancient to modern civilization (much like a pioneer village). Of course, there were souvenir shops everywhere so we could stock up for the family back home. (Souvenirs are much more exiting when you buy them than when you bring them home. You just had to be there.)

We again enjoyed Korean hospitality all day: breakfast and a box lunch in the bus, touring around all day, and then a buffet dinner at one of the finest restaurants in Seoul on the way home. We were then ushered back to the church where we enjoyed a special prayer/praise service with part of the Seo-Moon congregation.

Going Home
The next day, Thursday, was our last day. We finished off the business of the conference by mid-afternoon. A closing session would be held that evening,but Rev. Bilkes and myself had to get to the airport by taxi to catch our evening flight back. We had a lot of impressions to think and talk about during our 10-1/2 hour flight to Seattle.

It is our prayer that this conference may serve for the upbuilding of the member churches throughout the world and also may help to encourage each other to continue to preach the Gospel boldly to a needy world.

As my email messages went spinning around the world each day while in Seoul, it struck me that this new technological marvel is nothing compared to a much greater wonder. Each day God, through His Word and Spirit, is in close and loving communication with each of His millions of people throughout all the nations of the world. He speaks to their hearts, He listens to their prayers, He fully understands them in their language, He knows them each by name and meets all of their needs in the context of their own culture and circumstances. Led by His Word and His Holy Spirit, His true people all truly worship Him in spirit and truth wherever they gather in His name.

We were thankful to have been kept safe and arrive back in our homeland with our families and our own churches. But we had certainly seen the evidence that God is doing much more in this world than what we experience in North America. This should excite us all, but it should not surprise us. After all, He has told us that it would be so.

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