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Youth Hold Ecumenical Prayer Service at Border Between N and S Korea

Vespers Led by Taizé Aims to Stay Close to Brothers in the North

Catholic, Protestant and Anglican young people gathered Sept. 19 near the border between North and South Korea and prayed for peace and reconciliation.

The Taizé Community in Korea held a pilgrimage and vespers at the Church of Repentance and Atonement in Paju (a city located just south of Panmunjeom on the 38th parallel), welcoming young people from all Christian Churches and all countries to come and pray in unity for the peace and reconciliation of Korea.

“Reconciliation has always been the spirituality of our community,” said Brother Shin Han Yol of Taizé, the main coordinator of the event. “We have been praying for peace in Korea for over 40 years. Since 2013, we thought it would be nice to invite the young people—Catholic or not—to join in our prayer.”

“A pilgrimage,” he added, “symbolizes a journey. We do not stay in our comfort zones. We get up, step outside, and begin the journey of reconciliation. ”

More than 200 people participated in the Taizé vespers, including members from SFCS (Seoul Federation of Catholic Students) and the Christian Youth Academy. Young people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Myanmar, and France also came.

Brother Shin Han Yol said that one of the main purposes of the service is “to bring together people of different backgrounds to pray for the same intention: peace.” Through prayer service, the community hopes to “build bridges” between different religion and different countries.

Holding the Taizé vespers in Paju city also adds another significance to the event.

“Our hope is to pray together with our brothers and sisters in North Korea,” Brother Shin Han Yol explained. “Since they cannot come here due to the difficulties of reality, we’ve decided to travel as close to them as possible. If the vesper was held in Seoul, we would probably receive much more participants. But that is not our purpose. Our purpose is to stay close with our brothers and sister of the North.”

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