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NCC Sends Ecumenical Delegation Of Women To North Korea

            July 11 , 2000, NEW YORK CITY – Church officials who have long been working toward unity between North and South Korea welcomed the June negotiations involving leaders of both countries.  With hopes for reconciliation between North and South Korea bolstered, officials of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA) are initiating a unique effort to help build a supportive foundation for peace and equality.   

As part of this initiative, the Partnership With Women Task Group, part of the Office for International Justice and Human Rights in the Church World Service and Witness Unit of the NCCCUSA, will send a delegation of five North American women to North Korea on August 23 to establish direct relationships with women from the Korean Christians Federation (North Korea). Together the women will discuss peace, reunification and ecumenism.  The Task Group, chaired by Mia Adjali and Pat Patterson, includes Roman Catholic and Protestant members.  

This initiative builds on a 1997 consultation among the Korean Christians Federation, the National Council of Churches of Korea (South Korea) and the NCCUSA.  This landmark consultation successfully brought together representatives of all the participating groups, however, the mix did not include North Korean women.  For this reason, organizers of the current initiative decided to make the involvement of North Korean women a priority in the peace process.  

 “The ecumenical movement is important for women everywhere, and we don’t want anyone to be left out,” said Kathy Todd, the Director for the International Justice and Human Rights Office. “We want to bring women with common commitments together. ”   

            As a concrete expression of this concern, the women will accompany a shipment of $96,000 worth of cooking oil, rice and other supplies for North Korean families.   These humanitarian relief supplies, which will help ease severe food shortages, were donated by Church World Service, the humanitarian response ministry of the NCCCUSA; Presbyterian Church (USA); United Methodist Church; United Church of Christ; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; United Church of Canada; Church Women United; Franciscan International; Korean American Church Women United. 

During the trip several of the delegates from Partnership With Korean Women Task Group will visit members of the National Council of Churches of Korea, where they will share their experiences of  North Korea and discuss ideas for peace. 

“We want to act as a bridge between the two groups and support reunification work, said Kathy Todd.  “We want to bring these women together in a global ecumenical fellowship.”  

            Organizers hope to eventually establish a worldwide network of women who are concerned about humanity, reuniting families, and maintaining peace and reconciliation.  “Women who are concerned about empowerment understand that the larger the network, the stronger it will be.  There’s strength in numbers and strength in diversity,” said Kathy Todd. 

            The following women, chosen for their work with international ecumenical work, will be in attendance: 

        Peggy Billings (United Methodist Church), a member of the first official delegation of the National Council of the Churches to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1987, was also the chairperson of the North American Coalition for Human Rights in Korea from 1975-88. Now retired, she worked as a staff member of the Women’s Division and World Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. 

        Nancy Anne Hudson (United Church of Canada), the area secretary for East Asia with the Division of World Outreach in the National Office of the United Church of Canada since 1992 has helped nurture relationships between the United Church’s relationships and church partners in the Philippines, Taiwan, North and South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and China. She has also participated in several international consultations and delegations to North Korea. 

        Kathy Anne Jeffries (Christian Church- Disciples of Christ), vice president of the International Christian Women’s Fellowship, also serves as president of Church Women United in Tennessee and on the Regional Board of the Christian Church in Tennessee. 

        Wilma Samuella Kucharek (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) serves as the secretary of the Board of the Division for Global Mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Torrington, Conn., dean of the Eastern Conference of the synod, and co-chair of the synod’s International Relations Committee.  

        Carmen Alicia Nebot (United Church of Christ) is the Co-Chair of the NCC Justice For Women Working Group, oversees administration of the Global Education and Advocacy program(GEA) as the associate for GEA for the United Church Board for World Ministries (UCBWM), and is the UCBWM representative to the United Nations. 

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