United Methodists pray for student sentenced in North Korea

Translate Page

The United Methodist West Ohio Conference and Friendship United Methodist Church in Wyoming, Ohio, are praying for the safe return of Otto Warmbier, a young University of Virginia student arrested in North Korea and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Warmbier was charged with stealing a political propaganda poster from his hotel. He stated he was bringing the poster to a church member from Friendship as a “trophy” from his trip.

The U.S. has called on North Korea to release Warmbier and called the sentencing “unduly harsh.”

The conference leaders said they are following news reports about Warmbier’s arrest and sentencing and are staying in touch with the family.

“It is deeply troubling that any family would have to go through this kind of worry and concern from their child’s well-being. We hope and pray for forgiveness by the North Korea officials for any perceived transgressions by the young man, and for his quick and safe return to his family.”

Warmbier, who had traveled to Pyongyang on a trip organized by Young Pioneer Tours, was arrested on Jan. 2 at the airport as he was about to board a plane.

The North Korean government alleged that the young man was encouraged to commit the “hostile act” by a member of the church in his home state of Ohio, a secretive university organization and even the CIA.

In a tearful video, Warmbier said he made “the worst mistake of my life.”

Gilbert is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].

Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

Mission and Ministry
Tim Tanton, United Methodist Communications. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Why church should care about press freedom

World Press Freedom Day is a time to reflect on the importance of newsgathering and the ties that connect freedom of expression and religion.
Mission and Ministry
Tim Tanton (center, in red), chief news and information officer for United Methodist Communications, shares updates with African communicators and other UMCom staff during the 2019 General Conference. World Press Freedom Day, observed May 3, commemorates journalists and highlights the difficulties they face while reporting truth. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News

World Press Freedom Day and the church

Tim Tanton with United Methodist News talks about giving voice to the voiceless and why freedom of information is essential not only for society but for the church.

Wesley’s Chapel makes history relevant today

While still welcoming visitors who want to see the church that Wesley built, the current congregation is firmly focused on the denomination’s presence in the community and contributions to global Methodism today.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

©2023 United Methodist Communications. All Rights Reserved