Mennonite Church USA has renamed its Leadership Development office Church Vitality to better reflect its focus on helping congregations thrive. “All of our work is […]
Photo: Evening worship participants during singing time. Photo by Vada Snider.
What drew Sue Park-Hur and her husband, Hyun Hur, to the Mennonite church was the reputation Mennonites have for being a faithful peace witness as followers of Jesus.
“We heard about a small group of folks who for over 500 years have tried to follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace,” said Park-Hur, Mennonite Church USA denominational minister for leadership development who spoke at the evening worship July 3. She is also co-director of ReconciliAsian, a peace center in Los Angeles specializing in conflict transformation and restorative justice for immigrant churches.
Park-Hur shared part of her family’s history. They migrated 40 years ago from South Korea to California. “We were born in a place where civil war had ravaged a country, its people, its land, our very heart and soul,” she said.
Her father was 17 when, in 1950, the Korean War broke out and he was drafted. “He saw things a 17-year-old shouldn’t see, and that damaged him, and for the rest of his life he suffered [from] PTSD,” she said.
The trauma of war, as Park-Hur described it, has been transmitted across generations, and the Korean Peninsula today is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world.
“What is the role of the church in a world where violence seems to increase power all the time and peace seems hopelessly idealistic?” Park-Hur asked. “Is peace even possible?”
Turning to John 20, the Scripture focus for MennoCon19 worship, Park-Hur noted how Jesus stood among the disciples and said, “Peace be with you,” a traditional greeting.
She told a story of her husband, Hyun, traveling to North Korea and offering a blessing at a church there: “Mountain View Mennonite Church, in the name of Jesus, sends their greeting, and they want to bless you.” The church in North Korea responded, “Amen!”
John 20 shows that peace begins with being present, she said. Jesus stood among disciples who were traumatized and fearful, as he did with Mary Magdalene at the tomb.
“We, too, can be fully present. We can be with-ness,” she said.
Shifting to the experience of the MC USA constituency, she acknowledged that many within the denomination are fearful. “We have experienced loss and confusion and may want to move on,” Park-Hur said. “Let us pause, sigh, breathe and cry out to truly see Jesus standing among us.”
Marginalized people are not just “over there,” she said. “Some of us are marginalized people.…We are called to meet and embrace until we see the image of God in the other. To embrace each other is not to minimize our differences but to allow our differences to enrich us.”
An offering was taken for church planting within MC USA and for Peace Academic Center at the Hopi reservation in Kykotsmovi, Arizona.
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