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North Korea receives humanitarian aid from Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion

November 17, 2007
Office of Public Affairs

Humanitarian aid, in the form of building materials and medical supplies, was presented to North Korea during a November 14 visit to Geumgangsan by members attending the international Anglican conference, Towards Peace in Korea (TOPIK).

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was among the presenters of cement, covers for greenhouses and glucose, valued at $20,000. Organizers said the materials and medical supplies are meant for the North Korean village On-Jeong, destroyed by last year’s floods.

The aid comes primarily from Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) for the Anglican Communion parties along with Australia, the Korean Christian Movement, and Hyundai, a major corporation and developer in the region.

Held prior to the TOPIK Forum in Seoul, the peace trip to Geumgangsan in North Korea was held in the shadow of the majestic Diamond Mountain (Geumgang). The TOPIK conference is a result of a 2005 Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) resolution calling for peace, reconciliation and reunification of this Asian peninsula.

Jefferts Schori expressed hopes that the North Korean government will recognize the efforts of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion through this gift and that the South Koreans have a strategy for moving forward and for growth. Robin Eames, former Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland and president of the TOPIK conference, echoed the concerns and requested information for future endeavors. Both Jefferts Schori and Eames stressed the need for ongoing updates on this project.

“Concern for human need brought out the best in Anglican thinking,” said Eames. “The Communion was both global and local.”

“We hope that this relationship will continue,” said Archbishop Francis Park of the Anglican Church in Korea. “It’s just a beginning.”

Gathered in the rain with Jefferts Schori, Eames and Park for the presentation were: Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth; the Rev. Paul Kim of Korea, chairperson of the pre-production committee for TOPIK; Kirsten Muth Laursen, senior program director for ERD; Bishop Hyee Youn Kwon of Dae Jeon in Korea; Sophia Shim of the Diocese of Dae Jeon; Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu of the Anglican Church of Japan;

Following the presentation, Park celebrated Eucharist, noting that the service marked the first Anglican Eucharist in North Korea since World War II.

Joining the Presiding Bishop at TOPIK are the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, director of Peace and Justice Ministries; Peter Ng, partnership officer for Asia and the Pacific; and the Rev. Dr Charles Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop.