Indonesians build peace after church bombingBy Laura Dueckman Mennonite Central Committee
SALATIGA, Indonesia — Mennonites in Indonesia are part of in an ecumenical group aiming to quell terrorism-related violence before it happens and react quickly to natural disasters.
An incident last fall showed how the group works. On Sept. 25, a bomb detonated at Bethel Full Gospel Church in central Java, killing the suicide bomber and injuring 24 people as they left a worship service.
The attack was widely reported to have been perpetrated by a small group of Muslim militants.
Members of the Forum Across Religions and Groups, or FPLAG, an interfaith peace forum, went into action within hours to discourage inflammatory reactions. FPLAG is a partner of Mennonite Central Committee.
MCC’s partnership with FPLAG comes through group members who are part of Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia Mennonite church. MCC accompanies the church in its interfaith initiatives, said Jeanne Jantzi, MCC Indonesia representative with her spouse, Dan. They are from Lowville, N.Y.
“Bridges are being built among Indonesian Christians and Indonesians of other faiths, and also between MCC’s North American Christians and Indonesians who are committed to interfaith action for peace,” she said.
By 7 p.m. on the day of the bombing, religious leaders were joined by the local mayor to discuss what happened and how to prevent further violence.
They traveled to the church to present a statement, which said Muslims and other interfaith leaders rejected the bombing as a religious expression of Islam. This message was broadcast nationwide.
“Afterward, the leaders stayed in front of the church, praying until 1 a.m.,” said Paulus Hartono, a Mennonite pastor and founding member of FPLAG.
Hartono’s team followed up on the initial response by providing trauma-healing services.
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