The dancers whirled in a sea of color as the sound of many drums filled the air and made our hearts pound. Flags, banners, and streamers rushed throughout the Olympic gymnasium, surrounding us with a rainbow of movement and cadence. It was "Korean night" at the Justice, Peace, and The Integrity of Creation World Convocation in Seoul, Korea, sponsored by the World Council of Churches.
"JPIC," as the new program is often referred to, began at the WCC Assembly in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1983. The attempt has been to integrate biblically the most pressing questions facing the world. Underlying the JPIC process, now occurring on every continent, is the fundamental conviction that the various crises confronting us are all deeply related and must be resolved together.
The Seoul Convocation was significant not only for its breadth of participation, but also for the way it brought together the concerns of churches worldwide. The urgency of justice, the longing for peace, and the cry of creation are no longer fragmented agendas, but rather have become the unified and common struggle of our many faith communities.
At the Olympic Park, built for the 1988 summer games, 1,000 delegates, advisers, staff, and media representatives from most of the countries of the world gathered for a week's deliberations. A rich experience of worship filled our mornings, with testimonies reflecting the meaning of the gospel in myriad contexts and circumstances, which both energized and undergirded the days' activities. The gathered assembly heard the stories of young women forced into prostitution in the Philippines and young people in East Germany taking their first breath of freedom, of "untouchables" in India and aboriginals in Australia seeking dignity and self-determination, of black youth in the townships of South Africa fighting for a new nation and in the inner-city of Washington, D.C., fighting for their lives.