Theological disagreements over issues including attitudes to ecumenism were among factors leading to the decision to postpone the General Assembly of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) in South Korea.
Scheduled for October this year, the Assembly – held once every six years and designed to bring together the 129 national alliances for prayer, business and training in national leadership – was called off by the WEA Council, which cited ‘recent internal divisions among the evangelical community and challenges they pose for holding an Assembly there at this time’.
The Assembly was planned by the Christian Council of Korea (CCK) with input from the WEA. The CCK is dominated by conservative Presbyterian churches which withdrew from or never joined the National Council of Churches in Korea (NKCC). Established in 1989, it has proved to be a controversial organisation and various leaders have faced accusations of bribery and financial corruption; accusations of heresy also circulate among its members.
A third group, the Communion of Churches in Korea, was formed in 2012 and is made up of denominations which withdrew from the CCK.
WEA delegates were present at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches held in Busan in Korea last year, with representatives declaring ‘We are brothers and sisters in Christ.’ However, some CCK churches demonstrated against the WCC at the event.
The WEA said: ‘Initiatives intended to be worked on at the Assembly will continue in other forums, such as in regional and national meetings and meetings of the WEA commissions, building up to the hosting of the Assembly, date and location to be announced in coming months.’
It continued: ‘The WEA International Council is grateful for the important and energetic vision of the Church in South Korea, both within the country and in its mission initiatives worldwide. The Council also prays for a new coming together of evangelical leadership, nurturing the Church in its life and witness, centred in Jesus Christ.’
CCK secretary general Bae In-gwan said that the Assembly was postponed ‘to better prepare’, adding: ‘When and whether it will be in Korea as planned, will be decided through discussions with WEA.’