Vision of the Northeast Asia Reconciliation Initiative
The annual Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia is part of a wider Northeast Asia Reconciliation Initiative. The initiative is focused on nourishing Christian leadership, theology, mission, and collaboration to pursue God’s peace in Northeast Asia. The current geographic focus is China mainland, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the United States.
The vision for the Northeast Asia Reconciliation Initiative was birthed in 2012 at a consultation at Duke Divinity School and the Duke Center for Reconciliation in the U.S. There, 28 Christian leaders and organizations from Northeast Asia and U.S. called for a second gathering in Northeast Asia. In April 2014 the first Forum was held in South Korea, with 40 participants from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.
The second Forum was held in Nagasaki, Japan in April 2015, growing to over 50 participants. A powerful impact was made meeting in the 70th anniversary year of the U.S. atomic bomb drop and beginning of Korean peninsula division, and the 150th anniversary year of the discovery of Japan’s persecuted “hidden Christians.” Through a moving pilgrimage of pain and hope into Nagasaki, these stories richly informed the relational and theological engagements. Adding strength to the Forum’s public witness was two one-day theological symposiums on peacemaking which followed, respectively, in Nagasaki (at the atomic bomb museum) and a week later in Tokyo (at Aoyama Gakuin University). The two symposiums create a platform to influence Japanese society and church at a time of rising Japanese nationalism. The third Forum was held in Hong Kong in 2016 with 55 participants. The 2016 pilgrimage took the participants together to Macau to learn the story of the roots of Christianity in all of Northeast Asia. In 2017 80 participants gathered for five days on Jeju Island, South Korea. A deep impression was made in pilgrimage to the sites of the Gangjeong naval base, St. Francis Peace Center, and “4.3” memorial to the deaths of many civilians from 1945-1952 on the island.
Goals of the Initiative
To strengthen leadership for God’s ministry of reconciliation in Northeast Asia through a fresh space of learning and community.
To teach and learn together within a framework that is theological, contextual, and practical—including worship, Scriptural reflection, and a pilgrimage of pain and hope in Nagasaki.
To engage key areas of contextual challenge in the region.
To create platforms that will be catalysts for fresh ideas, partnerships, and collaboration between people and institutions pursuing the ministry of peace and reconciliation in Northeast Asia.