by Roddy MacKenzie
WCC Korea 4: The Enthusiasm Builds
As several thousand participants from 100 countries pour into Busan basking in this magnificent fall weather of deep blue skies and rich autumn colours here in Korea, the enthusiasm builds. The meeting facilities here in Busan are incredible, and well-suited for such huge numbers of people. For my wife Ka Hyun and me, the good news is that BEXCO (Busan Exhibition and Convention Centre) where everything is happening is right across the street from our hotel. The bad news (sigh) is that the world’s largest department store is right behind our hotel, and has already attracted Ka Hyun’s attention. The Ying and the Yang featured so prominently on Korea’s flag. Such is life!
More good fortune. Of all people at the 10th Assembly, the very first person Ka Hyun and I encountered was Mark Beach, WCC’s Director of Communication! Mark and I have been exchanging emails, so meeting face-to-face was extra nice. Mark was magnificent — he made Ka Hyun and me feel so welcome, and he steered down the right paths from the outset for this enormous Assembly by giving us invaluable information and guidance. This makes much more effective our ability to discharge our tasks as Accredited Media of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Ka Hyun and I are now covering the Pre-Assembly Conferences, three of the most interesting for us being the Youth Pre-Assembly, the Indigenous Peoples Pre-Assembly and the Women’s Pre-Assembly. There are many countries worldwide where women continue to endure appalling treatment. One of many reasons why Christianity is warmly welcomed in Korea is that Christianity significantly improved the position of women in Korean society. On point, Ka Hyun attracts enthusiastic attention here through being female Ordained Clergy of Korean descent in the Anglican Church of Canada. The other Pre-Assembly Conference of particular interest to me is that of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN). This is because my Mom was confined to a wheelchair by polio for the final 19 years of her life. Canada in those days handled people with disabilities poorly so our lives were made difficult by many disability roadblocks that thankfully now are disappearing.
Physical Structure of BEXCO for the WCC Assembly
BEXCO is enormous, and so well-equipped to accommodate enormous gatherings such as the WCC’s 10th Assembly. The three interlocking, architecturally pleasing buildings of BEXC are the Auditorium, the Convention Hall and the Exhibitions Hall. For the 10th Assembly, these will be used as follows:
Auditorium will be the site of all Plenary Sessions
Convention Hall conveniently located between the Auditorium and the Exhibitions Hall is now hosting the Pre-Assembly events and will host all Bible Study Groups, Ecumenical Conversations, Regional Meetings, Confessional Meetings and Madang Workshops
Worship Hall in the Exhibitions Hall will be the location of all Prayer Services including the Gathering Prayer, the daily Morning Prayer, the daily Evening Prayer, Taise Prayer and the Sending Prayer to conclude the Assembly. 5,000 people are expected to convene in the Worship Hall for these Prayer Services, so the 10th Assembly is being called the “Praying Assembly”!
Madang Hall in the Exhibitions Hall will host 100 Exhibitions and Encounter Spaces including for Habitat for Humanity (made famous by former US President Jimmy Carter), Indigenous People’s Space, the International Association of Woman Ministers, the International Association for Religious Freedom, the Berlin to Busan Peace Train Committee, the World Student Christian Federation and the YMCA.
Wonderful Weekend in Gwangju With Ka Hyun’s Family and Friends
To conclude this “setting the stage” commentary in anticipation of the formal Opening Ceremonies of the 10th Assembly here in Busan tomorrow, here’s a brief mention of our wonderful weekend in Ka Hyun’s hometown Gwangju with her family and friends. Gwangju is the smallest (1.5 million) of Korea’s seven cities, it’s three hours west of Busan and it’s Ka Hyun’s hometown. It has two fine universities of about 25,000 students each. Ka Hyun earned her bachelors degree at one and then taught high school. Afterwards, she earned her Masters of Marketing at the other, before coming to Canada where after several years working in Kamloops in September 2008 she entered the Vancouver School of Theology at UBC to become an Anglican Priest and, on her first day, met me!
My parents-in-law, sisters-in-law and brother-in-law Shin Sung Woon as always treated us with such warm and generous hospitality in Gwangju. These visit however was particularly special because I met for the first time my new nephew, Sung Woon’s son Shin Tak Hwa. Tak Hwa has just turned two. He’s a nonstop energizer bunny of endless enthusiasm with an amazing Victory Dance he created for whenever he does something well. Although he’s just beginning to speak, and his language is of course Korean, he greeted me very solemnly by looking me straight in the eye, reaching out his hand to shake mine and with perfect pronunciation said three English words: “Hello Uncle Roddy“.
And Thus Concludes This WCC Background Information!
And thus concludes this WCC 10th Assembly background information! The Enthusiasm Builds! Christian Greetings to all of you and especially from my wife The Reverend Ka Hyun MacKenzie Shin to her beloved Congregation of St. Stephen The Martyr Anglican Church in Burnaby, Canada. God be with you all!
Yours faithfully, Roddy