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Rev. Dr Tveit receives South Korean Order of Civil Merit

Rev. Dr Tveit receives South Korean Order of Civil Merit

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, presiding bishop of the Church of Norway and former general secretary of the WCC, receives the Dongbaek Medal of the Order of Civil Merit of the Republic of Korea from the Ambassador Nam Young-Sook. Photo: Embassy of the ROK

05 May 2020

On 5 May, former World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit received the Dongbaek Medal of the Order of Civil Merit of the Republic of Korea, during a ceremony at the Korean Embassy in Oslo, Norway.

The award was presented by Dr. Nam Young-Sook, the Korean Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway, on behalf of President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea. Their message read: “In accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, you will be awarded the following medal, recognizing your great contribution to the development of the Republic of Korea through the efforts of peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.”

Dr Kyung-seo Park, former WCC Asia secretary and current president of the Korean Red Cross, said it was a joy and honor to offer his greetings. “The WCC, represented by Olav, has been actively involved for advocacy work on the Korean Peninsula for peaceful co-existence without war and nuclear weapons starting in 1984 with the Tozanso process and highlighted at the 2013 WCC Busan Assembly,” he said. “As we continue our common journey, let me count on your solidarity and prayer.”

Rev. Dr Hong-Jung Lee, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Korea, offered warm congratulations to Tveit. “The WCC has been deeply engaged in the Korean peace process, and as a prominent leader of the global religious civic society, Olav, you will bear abundant fruit in the Korean Peninsula,” said Lee. “As I have shared a common vision with you, Olav, I sincerely hope you will open a new gate for the Korean peace process by establishing a Nordic roundtable for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Embassy-group-Oslo

Rev. Atle Sommerfeldt, acting Presiding Bishop of the Church of Norway, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, Mrs Anna Bjorvatten Tveit, Ambassador Nam Young-Sook and Special Adviser Svein Sæther after the award ceremony at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Oslo, Norway. Photo: Emil Engeset/Church of Norway

During the awards ceremony, which was held both online and via social distancing at the embassy, WCC moderator Dr Agnes Abuom recalled the historic moment when more than 800 participants in the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan in 2013 joined in a pilgrimage of justice and peace traveling to Mount Dora and Imjingak, expressing solidarity with the people of Korea and endorsing a worldwide call for the reunification of Korea.

“As general secretary of the WCC, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit inspired them to see themselves as a sign of the fulfilment of God’s promise,” said Abuom. “I appreciate, Rev. Tveit, your faithful leadership through which you have demonstrated what it means to transform Christian fellowship.”

WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca reflected that the WCC has a long history of working together with national, regional and international ecumenical partners for peace on the Korean Peninsula, particularly since the historic Tozanso Consultation of 1984.

“As general secretary of the WCC, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit did much more than simply carry forward this heritage,” said Sauca. “He made it a hallmark of this period of the WCC’s history, and personally played a prominent leadership role in this area of the WCC’s work through a period that has encompassed both some of the most perilous moments in the modern history of the region, and some of the highest hopes for transformative peaceful change.”

Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt, acting presiding bishop of the Church of Norway, said: “The Church of Norway is deeply committed to peace, justice and reconciliation, especially where war and political differences separate people and families. We pray and hope with the people of Korea for a reconciled future, healing the wounds of the past and present, with justice for all.”

Tveit, who will be consecrated as the presiding bishop of the Church of Norway on 10 May, expressed how deeply honored and thankful he was for the recognition of the WCC’s work over many years to promote and support the churches’ contribution to peace for the Korean Peninsula and the Korean people.

“To make peace is holy work,” said Tveit. "To make peace is hard work. It is a call to every human being, and particularly to those who have the responsibility to lead their nations.”

Tveit also prepared a special prayer for the day. “May, the God of life and peace, bless the people of Korea, in the South and the North, and give you peace. Amen,” he prayed.

Full address of the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit at the Award ceremony

Prayer of Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit at the award ceremony, in English and Korean

Greetings to the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit from WCC and NCCK leadership (text)

Greetings to the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit from WCC and NCCK leadership (videos)

The Order of Civil Merit - award certificate text

Interview with Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit

Photo highlights from the WCC work towards peace in Korean peninsula

"Light of Peace", WCC Global prayer campaign for peace in Korea

WCC delegation meets with Korean prime minister (WCC press release 18 November 2019)

National Council of Churches in Korea honors WCC leaders (WCC press release 18 November 2019)