Mission Statement of the Northeast Asia Reconciliation Initiative
The annual Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia is part of a wider Northeast Asia Reconciliation Initiative (NARI).
The mission of NARI is to forward the ministry of reconciliation in Northeast Asia by inspiring and educating Christian leadership, fostering community and healing across divides, bearing prophetic witness, and being a catalyst for collaboration and new initiatives.
The vision for NARI 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. In 2018 88 leaders gathered in Kyoto, Japan. In 2019 90 participants gathered in Jeju, South Korea.
In 2020 the Forum had to be held virtually due to COVID-19. 145 participants gathered online. There were powerful teaching and inspiring stories on the Ministry of Reconciliation in a Time of Xenophobia, Rising hostility, and COVID-19, and Message of Hope and Comfort in the DPRK. In 2021 the Forum had to be held virtually again but for 3 weeks with 71 to 98 participants. The Forum covered Divisive Social Media and Ministry of Reconciliation and the social media as God’s New Creation was the most impressiv expression. There was also very inspiring time, regional peace workers roundtable, to have great leaders in the ministry of reconciliation around the world.
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.