By Nathan Day Wilson
31 October 2013
One of the liveliest venues at the World Council of Churches’ 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, is a room called madang.
Madang is the Korean word for the courtyard in a traditional Korean home. It’s where families, friends, neighbors and guests congregate in order to share and celebrate, dream and remember. The Korean churches (which, by the way, have been wonderful hosts!) proposed using the term and concept as a way to root the assembly and give it shape and meaning.
This is no mere exhibit hall. Rather, the opportunities in this space are organized around five interrelated themes, which also run throughout the assembly: koinonia (which is Greek for fellowship), martyria (mission and witness), diakonia (service), ecumenical formation and interfaith dialogue. They include workshops, booths, theatre, areas set up for conversation, a bookstore, a coffee shop, concerts and more.
I have seen tears shared among reuniting friends; deep discussion about beliefs and behaviors; native dancing and singing as expressions of faith. I participated in a craft project of making human-shaped paper figures that will be linked together to care for each other.
It is a place for encounter and blessing.
Wilson pastors First Christian Church in Shelbyville, Indiana, and coordinates the “Faith & Values” section of The Indianapolis Star. He is an accredited media representative at the WCC’s 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea.