Following the burning and demolition of church buildings and the flight of many Christians from their villages in Indonesia, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed the world fellowship’s support of religious liberty and its solidarity with Indonesian believers as churches assist displaced people and work toward future peace.
Writing on 20 October, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit assured Bishop H. Pahala Hutabarat and Rev. Dr Batara Sihombing of the Indonesian Christian Church (HKI) of his profound concern “for the safety of thousands of Christians” who remain in peril.
According to news agency reports, Christians have been fleeing the island district of Aceh Singkil in the Aceh province of Indonesia following destruction of church buildings by local officials in the wake of violent protests against Christian practices and presence in the villages.
“The recent attacks on churches and Christian communities are deplorable,” Tveit wrote. “They illustrate the challenges and struggles of Christians in Indonesia, particularly in Aceh Singkil, as they strive to be faithful witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The World Council of Churches condemns all such violence against people and communities on the basis of their religious identity and calls upon the government of Indonesia to act swiftly in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”
The WCC general secretary added, “I support the statement of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) which calls upon the district government of Aceh Singkil to ensure freedom of worship for all religious groups in the district and to stop the demolition of church buildings.”
In conclusion, Tveit offered this prayer on behalf of world Christianity: “May God strengthen and comfort all Christians in Aceh Singkil and those who are bereaved or in fear. May the Holy Spirit give wisdom and courage to all religious leaders and government authorities to strive for peace, freedom and justice for all people in Indonesia.”