Solidarity urged as violence rocks Church in India

The Methodist Church is calling for urgent prayer forthousands of persecuted Christians in India as violence flaresacross the state of Orissa.

The British Methodist Church offered its support to The Church ofNorth India (CNI) this week as more than 50,000 people were lefthomeless and many killed in attacks following the worstanti-Christian violence India has seen since independence 60 yearsago.

Revd Dr Enos Das Pradhan from CNI made contact with the WorldChurch Relationships Office, asking Methodists to uphold theirbrothers and sisters in Orissa in prayers for peace. "Fear ofattack has taken every Christian into its grip and our people areliving in the most persecuting time of their lives," he said. "Willyou join us in prayer for our brethren in Orissa? Kindly uphold thepeople of Orissa in your prayers, that God grants them strength tobear the losses and also to be witness of His love in these tryingtimes."

CNI, the British Methodist Church's partner in the region, hasbeen at pains to condemn the killings of both Hindus andChristians. Revd Dr Pradham also condemned the killing of Hinduleader, Pradhan Swami Laxminarayan Saraswati and his fourassociates in his letter to British Methodists.

Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia, was keen to passon CNI's request. "To use religion as a justification for attackingindividuals or groups is abhorrent and yet we are seeing widespreadcommunity violence," he said. "We have heard of horrific attacks onhomes, places of worship and individuals. Many of us were movedthis week by a press photo of a young girl whose face had beenburnt because she was a Christian. We ask the Indian Government toact for peace, to act for the vulnerable and quickly undermine theculture of intolerance and violence while there is time."

Kasta Dip, Coordinator of Youth Concerns for CNI emailed youth andchildren's Connexional team colleagues at the British MethodistChurch. "We have been hearing news of killings everyday," saidKasta. "My hometown Bolangir is in the western part of Orissa.There have been already over 60 instances of violence, includingthe burning alive of at least eight persons and over six hundredhomes. "Last night three CNI churches were burnt. Pray for ourthree dioceses in Orissa."

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