World Council of Churches -
Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
For immediate release:
1 November 2002
Ecumenical delegation to visit churches in Pakistan
Cf. WCC Press Update, Up-02-30, of 2 October 2002
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is sending an ecumenical delegation on a pastoral visit to Pakistan, 2-9 November. Organized in consultation with the WCC member churches in the country and the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, the delegation will visit Karachi and Lahore to listen and learn from the people about the situation in the country as a result of the war in Afghanistan, and the challenges facing the churches there. There have been a series of attacks on Christian churches and institutions in the country since the war started in Afghanistan.
The visit to Karachi follows the attack on 25 September on the office of Idara-e-Amn-o-Insaf (Committee for Justice and Peace) in which seven young Christian workers were killed. The authorities have failed to identify the attackers but according to news reports, they are alleged to belong to Islamic extremist groups. Idara-e-Amn-o-Insaf was set up in 1974 by the diocese of the Roman Catholic Church with the Church of Pakistan to promote and protect human rights.
Mr Clement John, executive staff in the WCC International Relations team, notes that "as the war in Afghanistan intensified, the anger and resentment amongst the Islamic parties and militant groups increased." He noted that, to date, none of the perpetrators involved in the series of attacks have been brought before a court of law for trial. "The Christian community in Pakistan is a tiny minority", he says. "It lives in fear of more such attacks." "Through the visit, we wish to express solidarity with the churches and Christians in Pakistan and encourage the government to provide safety and security for the Christian minority there," he explains.
The WCC has two member churches in Pakistan, the Church of Pakistan and the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan. Christians account for less than three percent of the country's population.
Members of the delegation include:
Bishop Roger Sainsbury, moderator of Churches' Commission for Racial Justice, UK
Dr L. J. Koffeman, advisor for Ecumenical Relations to the general secretary, Uniting Churches in the Netherlands
Mr Tony Waworuntu, International Affairs secretary, Christian Conference of Asia, Hong Kong
Ms Youngsook C.Kang, deputy general secretary, Mission Contexts & Relationships/Mission Education, United Methodist Church, USA
Rev. John Moyer, director, Frontier Internship in Mission (joining the delegation for part of the visit)
Mr Clement John, International Relations, World Council of Churches
Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.