By Sybil Davidson
As the world turns its attention to the Winter Olympics, North Georgia United Methodists are bowing our heads in prayer for peace in Korea.
On Sunday, January 21, The Korean Church of Atlanta hosted a powerful service of prayer, song, worship, and light. The gathered congregation prayed for peace on the Korean Peninsula, in the United States, and around the world. (See photos here.)
Rev. William Seihwan Kim, senior pastor of the Korean Church of Atlanta, began the service with welcome. He reminded the congregation that the Lord is able to accomplish what is to us an enormous task, and that prayer is the master key to unlocking peace.
"As we pray in one heart and one mind, the Lord will certainly hear our prayers," he said.
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson brought greetings on behalf of the 830 United Methodist Churches in the Conference. Many North Georgia United Methodists participated in their own churches by praying for Korea in worship. Others took time at 5 pm to pray simultaneously with those attending the special service.
"When the Apostle Paul describes the Body of Christ he says, when one rejoices, all rejoice and when one suffers, all suffer," said Bishop Sue. "My brothers and sisters in Christ from Korea and in Korea, all United Methodists should share in this distress. I pray a blessing on every person here and pray that Christ's spirit of love and peace will prevail."
Rev. Mike Long, the superintendent of the Atlanta-Emory District, was among the speakers who prayed for the Korean Peninsula.
"Today, we humbly bow our heads and pray for healing, reconciliation and peace," he said.
Long also prayed for the participants and hosts of the Olympic Games.
Rev. Jane Brooks, Assistant to the Bishop, offered a prayer for our world and a prayer of confession.
"We humbly confess that we are reluctant to lift our voice ... we do not reflect your divine image. Free us. Make us messengers of your redeeming love," she prayed.
She prayed that the friendships forged among athletes become bridges around the world.
Rev. Minho Chung, an associate pastor of Korean Church of Atlanta, lifted up the cross on the altar. The hand carved "Reconciliation Cross" symbolizes two people embracing or holding one another up.
"Our only hope is the cross of Christ," he said.
A special offering was collected for UMCOR Disaster Response work in Puerto Rico.
Other participants in the service included Dr. Grace Pyen, AROS District UMW president; Rev. Sunmil Kim, associate pastor of the Korean Church of Atlanta; Rev. Yongchul Shin, Immanuel KUMC; Rev. Sangjae Lee, associate pastor of the Korean Church of Atlanta; Rev. Jun Namkoon of Atlanta Bethany KUMC; Rev. Kyeng Gon Kim of Sugar Hill KUMC; and Rev. Hyo Kim of Rock Springs UMC.
Musicians included organist Misook Lee, the KCA Choir with conductor Youngjung Kim, accompanist Mijung Kim, the Men's Choir of KCA, Heejin Choi on flute, Children's Choir of KCA, Chulhwan Kim on pan flute, and Yoojung Min accompanist.
Before sending the congregation forth, each person carried a light and placed it on the altar table.
The service closed with an appropriate hymn, "We've a Story to Tell the Nations."
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth,
the kingdom of love and light.