GPF International leadership welcomed Korean faith and government ministry leaders to the United States at a briefing at the Washington Court Hotel blocks from the U.S. Capitol in preparation for a Capitol Hill Forum, “Multifaith Engagement and Track II Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula,” on March 1.
At the informal briefing, representatives from Korea and the United States agreed that civil society, and particularly faith leaders, can make significant contributions in bringing humanitarian relief to the North Korean people and building bridges that can ultimately reunify a nation and people divided for more than 50 years.
Rev. George Rhee, founder of Love North Korean Children, talked about his experience delivering food directly through schools in North Korea and the extremity faced by many people, sometimes even going to the mountains to take bark from trees to eat. “Children are innocent. Children are pure. But children are hungry,” Rhee said, adding that in his experience the South Korean government seemed more concerned with the government in the North than the people.
The Capitol Hill Summit convenes on March 1, 2012
ROK Ministry of Unification senior representative Mr. Dae Keun Moon told to group that “in one sense you are doing the work of the Ministry,” and that religious leaders particularly have contributed to cross-border dialogue, notably mentioning Rev. Rhee and Venerable Young Dam, a Forum panelist and Buddhist representative working on Korean reunification.
GPF leaders emphasized the key timing of the forum for leaders on Capitol Hill. “It is important to engage not only religious leaders but leaders from all sectors,” GPF Vice President James Flynn said. “Leaders generally have a spiritual and ethical framework for their lives. Faith leaders can strengthen this framework and represent the conscience of society.”
Dr. Robert A. Schuller, chairman of Coalition for American Renewal and a GPF Global Leadership Council member, reflected on the days following the September 11 attacks, and of joining hands with President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and other government leaders in prayer for the nation. “Leaders are looking for direction,” he said. “If we come together beyond our differences, faith leaders can provide direction to world leaders.”
*The Global Peace Festival Foundation (GPFF) was renamed Global Peace Foundation (GPF) in November, 2012