Last week, January 18th – 23rd, Jim Winkler, president of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCCCUSA) came to Seoul to follow up on a promise to visit the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) after the NCCK visited Washington D.C. during the U.S. campaign trip last July.
Jim Winkler met with the Reconciliation and Unification Committee of the NCCK as well as the NCCK, participating in an afternoon discussion focused on the ways the church councils in the USA and in Korea respectively can further coordinate their resistance in the current situations of an ongoing impeachment trial of the current president in South Korea and the rise of the Trump administration and the concerns it poses. At one point, an NCCK member asked Winkler if there was some hope that Trump’s unpredictability might have room for a diplomatic breakthrough with the North Korean leader in the vein of Nixon’s breakthrough with China. Winkler warned that there is a possibility of a surprise breakthrough as Trump sees himself as a kind of “messiah” and might be able to celebrate himself “bringing peace,” but this carries a great risk. If North Korea does not obey Trump’s likely demands he may respond in erratic or rash ways leading to an even greater catastrophe.
Winkler also met with several of the NCCK member denominations and worshipped at a Korean Methodist congregation (himself a Methodist) where he preached on that Sunday. You can read his sermon text here: Winkler Seoul Sermon. He finished his visit with a press conference regarding the NCCK’s commitment to support the NCCK’s campaign for a peace treaty as well as their pledge to uphold vulnerable communities in the US and around the world who might come to harm during a Trump administration.
Especially, Winkler and the NCCK agreed on two proposals for ways in which the NCCK and NCCCUSA might work together in the coming months:
- The NCCCUSA can invite a representative(s) of the NCCK to the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C. this coming April 21st – 24th.
- NCCCUSA might visit North and South Korea either at the end of this year or early next year to meet with leaders of both the South and North Korean churches. (This will depend in part upon the political situation in South Korea and whether impeachment is confirmed and the opposition party can take back the government and bring in a more open policy of dialogue.)