26 April 2019

A first-hand report from Sri Lanka

Anne Baldwin is the Methodist Church’s mission partner in Sri Lanka. On Easter Sunday, Anne was worshipping at the Methodist Church in Kandy when she heard news of the attacks.

Anne has written this first-hand report on the immediate impact of the tragedy on her community.

Last Sunday morning a large congregation gathered for a service at the Methodist Church in Kandy.

The minister, Revd Niles, had invited Bishop Kumara (Rtd) to preach. Bishop Kumara had been principal at the Theological College of Lanka when Rev Niles had been a student there in the 1990s. As Bishop Kumara was coming to the end of his sermon, information began to come through that churches were being bombed and that the police suggested we returned to our homes.

A few people left, but the Communion service took place as normal. Afterwards we went to the church hall for refreshments and fellowship. At that point, none of us fully understood the scale of what had happened.

It was only later, when I checked my phone, did I realise the enormity of it all. I contacted my daughters and my home church, Emmanuel Methodist United Reformed, Ormskirk, to let them know that I was OK. Because of the time difference, my church friends were able to receive the news during the Easter breakfast.

Curfews are now in place each night but are gradually reducing in length. We are near the main Colombo to Kandy road and usually there is traffic noise 24 hours a day. Now it is eerily quiet during the curfew and social media is still closed down.

Everyone I meet is shocked and subdued; friends, people on campus, waiters, everyone. There are white flags along the roadsides as tributes to the dead.

Here on campus at the Theological College of Lanka we held a memorial service. We stood in a circle and passed around a lit candle as we silently said our own prayers. With Bible readings and meditation, it was very moving and just what I needed.

The people I have meet from other faiths are as shocked and concerned as the Christians here. While everyone is shocked, I see the biggest impact on the children. Many adults had witnessed death and destruction during the civil war.

I have received so many messages over the last few days, it was been wonderful and so uplifting to know that prayers are being said for us.

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