Solidarity with churches under pressure in Indonesia

By staff writers
11 Oct 2011

The moderator of the World Council of Churches' Central Committee, the Rev Dr Walter Altmann brought the solidarity of the worldwide fellowship of WCC member churches to the members of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) in the city of Bogor, West Java where worship activities have been restricted recently.

The GKI Taman Yasmin Church has been prevented from worshipping in their sanctuary and has been banned from continuing further construction of their building, in spite of their constitutional right to conduct worship services.

This right has been recognised at all levels of appeal including the Supreme Court. Under the circumstances, the congregation has recently begun to gather for worship on the street in front of the church building.

However, this gathering, too, has been prohibited by local authorities, and members who gathered for worship last Sunday were dispersed by police forces.

On visiting the site of these events, Dr Altmann, who is from Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, declared: “My visit of solidarity to the GKI Taman Yasmin Church is part of the WCC’s uncompromising commitment to the full respect of religious beliefs and to the faith practices, foremost worship, of all religions.”

“We have opposed and will oppose any legal measures or administrative actions that may limit the right of Muslims to practice their faith in Western countries. And we look up to Indonesia as a model of religious pluralism through which respectful relationships and cooperation between Christians and Muslims may be fostered, " he declared.

"In this particular case," Altmann continued, "it is our expectation that the prohibition of worship by the Taman Yasmin Church shall be lifted on the basis of peaceful dialogue. We also appeal to the local government, as well as to the central government of the Republic of Indonesia, to implement without delay and without restrictions the decision of the Supreme Court. We are also calling for the solidarity of the churches worldwide. ”

Dr Altmann visited Indonesia from 2 to 11 October 2011, in order to participate in the second gathering of the Global Christian Forum, which took place in Manado, North Sulawesi. He also met with members of churches in Jakarta in a visit organised by the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (CCI).

[Ekk/3]

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