2015 Young People's Delegation to South Korea Report

8/19/2015


By Rev. Bruce Case, Mississippi Conference Peace with Justice Coordinator 
 
Photo right:
Sara Altman of Mississippi City UMC spoke to her church about being a delegate to South Korea. Click here to read what she said impacted her most.
 
Photo below right: Young people from Mississippi and South Carolina annual conferences took this picture following worship service in Seoul, South Korea.
 
Photo below left: A student took captured this picture of "Amazing Grace" scripted in Korean.

I am excited to report to the Mississippi Annual Conference that our 19-member 2015 Young People's Delegation to South Korea was a major success!  The main goal of this pilgrimage was to give our United Methodist college students an opportunity to think and lead on global issues in the context of our faith and church. We threw a lot at them.  We asked them to study the history, culture and faiths of another country, the role of the United States in their history, and to make parallels and connections of justice and peace within our own place and time.

We covered issues of sex trafficking in this region and talked with rehabilitated sex workers near U.S. military bases. We stood near the 38th parallel and spoke with a woman who assists North Korean refugees. We also spent a day with a 19 year-old South Korean soldier and heard from people who had been tortured for resisting the dictatorship in South Korea in the 70s and 80s. Our group worshipped with Methodists in Seoul and took the time to hear the faith stories of many Koreans-young and old.  We enjoyed this mysterious and beautiful culture; its food, music, family life, and university life.  In addition, we discovered the rich 130-year history of U.S. Methodist missionaries in Korea. 
 
Our students wrote down their thoughts, prayed and worshipped together, and worked very hard to process their own faith and convictions in light of the struggles and joys of people in South Korea.  They listened intently to people who shared on a host of extremely complicated and emotional issues in Korea that spanned over a century.  And now our 10 Mississippi college students are back on their campuses, ready to share what they learned from this amazing experience.  Many of them have already visited groups and churches to share pictures and stories of this pilgrimage to South Korea.  They are all looking for churches, youth groups, and men's and women's groups to share their story with, so be on the lookout for one of these delegates to be speaking in your area.  I'll do my best to post such presentations this fall, so you'll know where to find them.
 
Finally-thank you so very much for your prayers and for the tens of thousands of dollars of support that came from individuals and churches all across our conference.  I am so proud that the Mississippi Conference did something so unique and relevant for our time.  I would like to extend special appreciations to Rev. Justin White of Greenville First UMC for helping lead our delegation and to Bishop James Swanson Sr. for his enthusiasm and support all year long. Thank you to the Rev. Jeri Katherine Sipes of the South Carolina Conference for her leadership!  To Levi Bautista, assistant general secretary of General Board of Church and Society(GBCS) and Jillian Abballe from the GBCS New York office, than you for your hard work.

From what I witnessed of our Mississippi United Methodist college students, our church has a wonderful, bright future ahead.  To close, thank you Lord for a safe journey, and for an experience we will not soon forget.

If you are interested having one of the delegates talk to your church or group, contact Rev. Bruce Case at jbrucecase@gmail.com.