06 August 2009

Methodist leader 'appalled' at atrocities in Pakistan

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Britain, has expressed deep concern over violence against Christians in Pakistan.

Over the last week in Pakistan many acts of violence have been committed against Christians, including the burning of 47 homes in the village of Korian and 100 homes in Gojra City. More than 290 families have been made homeless and at least nine people have died in the violence, which has arisen as a result of religious tensions between Christians and Muslims.

Martyn said: "I am appalled at the atrocities that have taken place in recent days in Pakistan. People of all faiths have been deeply troubled by these acts, which represent personal disaster for very many families who have lost relatives, homes and livelihoods. It casts a shadow on all people of faith, both Muslim and Christian, who know that such violence should never be a part of religious life.

"I welcome the care and compassion shown by many Muslims to their Christian neighbours, taking them into their homes for safety and making efforts to rebuild peace in the communities."

The Methodist Church in Britain has made an initial solidarity grant of £10,000 through Church World Service to provide emergency relief supplies such as food and shelter.

Martyn joined with Revd Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, in calling on the Pakistani government to take action to stem the violence. He said: "These recent riots are a matter of serious concern and it is the responsibility of the State to provide security to all its citizens and to call on all people of faith - especially local and national leaders - to focus their efforts on building peace rather than seeking reasons for further disunity.

"Our message is clear: acts of violence targeted at a religious minority are always wrong. When they do occur they must be investigated diligently and the perpetrators must be brought to justice."

Martyn also called on Christians to pray for the Church in Pakistan over the coming weeks and commended the following prayer for use in churches and prayer meetings:

Merciful God, Whose loving heart yearns for peace and justice to flow freely in all communities, Be with all the people of Korian and Gojra in these difficult times, May those who have lost relatives and friends be comforted, Those who have lost their homes be sheltered, Those who have lost hope find peace. We pray for faith leaders, both Christian and Muslim, and for national leaders in Pakistan and in Europe May they work consistently for peace and keep justice constantly in view. We pray for ourselves, that we may play our part in expressing your love for the whole of creation in all we do and say this day. Amen.

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