Methodist leader 'appalled' at atrocities in Pakistan

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

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

Martyn said: "I am appalled at the atrocities that have taken placein recent days in Pakistan. People of all faiths have been deeplytroubled by these acts, which represent personal disaster for verymany families who have lost relatives, homes and livelihoods. Itcasts a shadow on all people of faith, both Muslim and Christian,who know that such violence should never be a part of religiouslife.

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

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

Martyn joined with Revd Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of theWorld Council of Churches, in calling on the Pakistani governmentto take action to stem the violence. He said: "These recent riotsare a matter of serious concern and it is the responsibility of theState to provide security to all its citizens and to call on allpeople of faith - especially local and national leaders - to focustheir efforts on building peace rather than seeking reasons forfurther disunity.

"Our message is clear: acts of violence targeted at a religiousminority are always wrong. When they do occur they must beinvestigated diligently and the perpetrators must be brought tojustice."

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

Merciful God, Whose loving heart yearns for peace and justice toflow freely in all communities, Be with all the people of Korianand Gojra in these difficult times, May those who have lostrelatives and friends be comforted, Those who have lost their homesbe sheltered, Those who have lost hope find peace. We pray forfaith leaders, both Christian and Muslim, and for national leadersin Pakistan and in Europe May they work consistently for peace andkeep justice constantly in view. We pray for ourselves, that we mayplay our part in expressing your love for the whole of creation inall we do and say this day. Amen.