nun who pioneered mission in India dies.
Ann Roberta Powers of Sisters of Charity of Nazareth,
who pioneed their mission in the Indian villages soon after Indian independence,
died June 27 in Bihar. She was 90. more
A change in the Blasphemy Law?
A draft bill has been finalised by the government,
and will next be put before the government for approval. To combat the
growing abuse of the law, the proposal will also introduce severe penalties
against those who make false allegations of blasphemy. more
The Church of Scotland, the United Reformed Church
and the Methodist Church have come together to issue a joint statement
and a prayer for Pakistan following Sunday's terrorist bombings in Lahore.
They have united to issue the following condemnation of the atrocity:
"Christians and Muslims across the world are shocked and dismayed by
this barbaric attack. There is never any justification for hatred. We
join with everyone who is praying for Pakistan, for the families and
communities that have been devastated by this attack. "Freedom of religion
is a precious human right. We must do all we can, at home and abroad,
through our prayer and action, to protect it. Governments around the
world must do all they can to help defend minorities from violence and
discrimination. "At home we hope that we can continue to foster a culture
of tolerance and respect, through education, dialogue and mutual understanding.
We pray that God will guide us in the ways of love and forgiveness."
The statement has been supported by the Rt Rev John Chalmers, Moderator
of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; the Revd Kenneth
Howcroft and Gill Dascombe, who are the President and Vice President
of the Methodist Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain; and
John G Ellis and the Rev John Proctor, who are the Moderator of the
General Assembly and General Secretary of the United Reformed Church.
The churches also recommended a prayer for Pakistan which is posted
on the Methodist website. The joint statement followed a release from
the Church of Pakistan issued yesterday, Sunday 15 March 2015. The release
condemns the attacks and urges Christians in Pakistan to refrain from
retaliation. It also quoted Bishop Samuel Azariah saying: "The Bishop
expressed his deep disappointment in the individuals that took the law
in their hands and in their state of anger brutally killed two people.
Taking of life is not what is taught in the Christian faith and the
Bishop said that we must be careful of such acts and let the law take
its due course."
Here is a link to BBC coverage:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-31894708 and, sadly,
violent Christian response: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-31904690
PAKISTAN: Horrendous Atrocity
A Christian couple
in Pakistan have been beaten to death by an angry crowd after being
accused of desecrating a Koran. Their bodies were burned at the brick
kiln where they worked in the town of Kot Radha Kishan in Punjab province
and some reports state they were burned alive. Here
are links to some news reports:
4th Nov ; BBC
5th Nov. ; BBC
7th Nov. ; Guardian
You can also hear Wilson Chowdhry, of British Pakistani Christian Association
interviewed on Premier News here.
There was a protest demonstration outside 10 Downing Street on Saturday
INDIA: Death of Rev. Samuel Isacc
The World Council
of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has given
thanks for the life of Samuel Isaac , whom he said made contributions
in the "search for unity" and in the churches' "determination
to respond to the needs of people". Isaac, who served as deputy
director of the WCC's former Commission on Inter-Church Aid, Refugee
and World Service (CICARWS), passed away on 20 August in Chennai, India
at the age 72. Remembering Isaac's work at the WCC from 1980 to 1996,
Tveit said that Isaac's "critical thinking and managerial skills
were crucial as the churches worked together in proclaiming the Good
News while alleviating poverty, violence and suffering." "We
owe a great debt to Samuel Isaac for his unrelenting honesty in analysing
where both churches and societies went wrong in their actions and activities,
especially in his outspoken critique of the churches' and government's
role in the tragedy of Rwanda during the 1990s," Tveit said in
a condolence letter, issued on 21 August .
text of letter of Condolence
Member churches in India
INDIA: Cyclone Phailin
Please pray for all
those affected by Cyclone Phailin which hit the east coast of India
this week. Many have been left homeless, without food and supplies;
homes, crops and infrastructure have been destroyed up to 25km inland.
Christian Aid partners on the ground are helping to meet needs. An estimated
12 million people are likely to have been affected.
Of the hundreds of thousands of people evacuated, many have no home
to return to and their source of food and income has been destroyed.
PAKISTAN: Muslim mob torches 178 Christian homes in Pakistan over blasphemy
On 9th March, Badami
Bagh, a district of Lahore was the scene of extreme violence as a result
of a young Muslim accusing a Christian man of blasphemy. 2 churches
and 178 homes were burned and seriously damaged by hundreds of extremists.
A special edition of 'The
Frontier News' documents the church's response. Please remember
those traumatised so severely in prayer.
BANGLADESH: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's Visit
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
represented Pope Benedict XVI this week on a five-day visit to Bangladesh
to mark the 400th anniversary of the presence of the Christian faith
in that part of south Asia and the 125th anniversary of the creation
of the Diocese of Dhaka, writes Abigail Frymann.
Speaking at a seminary in Dhaka on Monday, the archbishop emeritus of
Westminster told seminarians to put Christ rather than status first
because "status means nothing, compared | with the love and care you
receive from the | people to whom you minister."
At a meeting of the bishops' conference, he highlighted the Second Vatican
Council documents and encouraged the Church to | work with Muslims for
the common good.
The cardinal on Wednesday addressed Muslim figures at the Islamic Centre
in Dhaka, saying: "Genuine religious belief... reminds us of the...
duty to live peaceably with our neighbour, of the importance of living
a life of integrity." He was due to preach at Friday's Mass to celebrate
the 125th anniversary of the ' archdiocese.
'THE TABLET' 10th November
One of highest Civilian Honours in Pakistan for Catherine Nicol
a C of S missionary 'retired' in 2001 but immediately returned to Pakistan
and continues to run a Girls' Hostel. She has completed 50 years in
Dr Daleep Mukarji elected as Vice-President Designate of the Methodist
the recent Methodist Church Conference (July 2012) held at Plymouth,
Dr Daleep Mukarji was elected Vice-President Designate of the Conference.
He will take up his office at the next Methodist Conference to be held
in July 2013 in London. Daleep is a Patron of Friends of the Church
in India and Chair of the Mission Working Group of the Methodist Church.
He is a graduate of Christian Medical Copllege Hospital, Vellore and
retired CEO of Christian Aid.
New Bishop of Dornakal Diocese, CSI, consecrated
Rt. Rev. Dr. V Prasada Rao was consecrated on July 9th. There is a report
of the consecration on the CSI
Rt Rev Dr M Azariah of S. India
Rev Dr M Azariah died on 17th May 2012. An obituary, written by Rev.
Eileen Thompson is now on our Obituaries
New Moderator of Church of N. India
Rt. Rev. Dr. Philip Marandih, Bishop, Diocese of Patna was elected as
the 12th Moderator of the Church of North India for the triennium 2011-2014
at the recently concluded 14th Ordinary Synod of the Church of North
India, at St. Thomas School, Mandir Marg, New Delhi, on October 6-9,
New Bishop of Hyderabad, Pakistan
Kaleem John has been appointed
New Bishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Rev. Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey was ordained and installed as the 15th
Bishop of Colombo on 14th May this year. Full
New Bishop of Diocese of Multan, Pakistan
of the fourth bishop of the diocese of Multan, Church of Pakistan
The Church of Pakistan has formally announced the election the fourth
Bishop of the Diocese of Multan -Church of Pakistan. The elections took
place on Friday the 3 June 2011, in St Mary's Cathedral, Multan. The
Rev Leo Paul was elected as the Bishop. The consecration has been decided
for 19 June 2011. A church spokesman said, "We are grateful to the Lord
for this achievement after a struggle of almost 7 years in electing
the fourth Bishop of Multan. We look forward to your prayers and support
in the future."
Petition Calling For UN Commission Of Inquiry in Burma
petition with 5,323 signatures calling for a UN Commission of Inquiry
into crimes against humanity in Burma and organised by Christian
Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Partners
Relief and Development, has been delivered to the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In a letter to Foreign Secretary, William
Hague, accompanying the petition, CSW and Partners Relief and Development
said they "warmly welcome the support the UK government has already
given" for the recommendation made by the UN Special Rapporteur for
Human Rights in Burma for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry
to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Special Rapporteur
has made this recommendation in his reports to the UN in March 2011,
October 2010 and March 2010. CSW and Partners Relief and Development
urge the UK, as a member of the Security Council, "to provide increased,
proactive leadership in support of these recommendations."
Assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti
Bhatti , the Pakistan Minority Affairs Minister was assassinated
on 2nd March. The following is reproduced from the Ekklesia
"Following the assassination on 2 March 2011, of the Pakistan Minority
Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti who was the first Christian to be a
member of the Pakistani President's Cabinet, church leaders and spokespeople
have condemned the killing.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Rowan Williams and John Sentamu
issued a joint statement saying: "It is with the greatest shock
and sorrow that we have heard of the assassination of Mr Shahbaz Bhatti."
"This further instance of sectarian bigotry and violence will increase
anxiety worldwide about the security of Christians and other religious
minorities in Pakistan, and we urge that the Government of Pakistan
will do all in its power to bring to justice those guilty of such crimes
and to give adequate protection to minorities."
Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, international director of the World Evangelical
Alliance, said he found it hard to express in words his response to
the murder, especially as it came just a day after he had received an
"upbeat email" from Bhatti.
"Shahbaz Bhatti had become a good friend and was a great hero of
the faith," he said in an email to colleagues.
The Vatican said the assassination reinforces what Pope Benedict XVI
had been calling for – the need to protect Christians against
"The assassination of … Bhatti ... is another terrible episode
of violence. It shows how right the Pope is in his persistent remarks
concerning violence against Christians and against religious freedom
in general," the Vatican stated.
"Our prayers for the victim, our condemnation for this unspeakable
act of violence, our closeness to Pakistani Christians who suffer hatred,
are accompanied by an appeal that everyone many become aware of the
urgent importance of defending both religious freedom and Christians
who are subject to violence and persecution."
Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships for the Methodist
Church in Britain, said: “The killing of Shahbaz Bhatti is deeply
shocking. He is known to have understood the potential consequences
for his stand on the interpretation of Pakistan’s blasphemy law,
but as minister for minorities he was clear that it was his obligation
to promote tolerance, acceptance and justice for Pakistani citizens
regardless of their religious affiliation."
Bhatti, a Roman Catholic, had spoken out against Pakistan's blasphemy
laws, which he said were being abused to persecute religious minorities,
including the tiny population of Christians. He was seeking reform,
specifically an amendment, so that the law would not be used "as
a tool of victimisation," he told the international new channel
France 24, earlier this year.
He also had defended a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, after she was sentenced
to death in November for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad.
His position angered extremists who issued death threats against him.
Fliers left at the scene of the killing were signed by two Islamist
militant groups – al-Qaida and the Punjabi Taliban – described
Bhatti as an "infidel" and warned others who oppose the country's
blasphemy laws that the same fate awaits them. Though well aware of
the threats, Bhatti was committed to standing up for religious minorities
and for human rights." See also video
where he anticipated his possible assassination
Assassination of Governor Salman Taseer
Salman Taseer from the Punjab was one of Pakistan's most outspoken
liberal politicians. He was shot on Tuesday by a bodyguard angered by
his opposition to blasphemy laws. Although many have condemned the assassination,
some religious leaders have praised the governor's killer. The governor
- a senior member of the governing Pakistan People's Party (PPP) - had
recently angered Islamists by appealing for a Christian woman, sentenced
to death for blasphemy, to be pardoned. (see below). There
is full coverage on the BBC
Bibi is still waiting in jail for the High Court in Lahore to decide
the date for her appeal against the death sentence for blasphemy passed
in November 2010. In the midst of an imminent governmental crisis Islamic
religious parties are stepping up pressure against the government to
prevent any change to the controversial blasphemy law. In an attempt
to ease the pressure, the government announced in no uncertain terms
that it does not plan to eliminate or amend the blasphemy law. In a
statement before the National Assembly on 1 January, the Minister for
Religious Affairs Khursheed Shah said the government is not responsible
for the proposal put to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Pakistan People
Party (PPP) to change the law. The Parliamentarian Rheman Sherry submitted
the proposed amendment to Parliament. "The government has no plans
to remove the blasphemy laws ... to ensure respect of the Holy Prophet
is part of our faith," said Kursheed Shah.
The minister assured the minorities that the government will take the
necessary steps to ensure that the law is not misused against them.
Protests by Islamic parties began when President Asif Ali Zardari announced
his intention to pardon Asia Bibi, a Christian sentenced to death on
false charges. The government had previously indicated their willingness
to amend the law, and had formed a committee for this purpose, headed
by Minister for Minorities Shabahz Bhatti.
Gill, a member of the committee of FOST wrote:
'Asia Bibi' in Pakistan
has been sentenced to death under the Blasphemy Law.
This is the first ever sentence of its kind for a woman.
Also for the first time, I believe, the President's pardon has been
rejected by the Judiciary.
Christian organisations in Pakistan are supporting Asia's family and
have a meeting scheduled with the hierarchy of Islamic Clergy in Lahore.
(I think most people who surf the net for
News in Pakistan will be aware of this.) See
also useful report
from Episcopal News Service
SANDY SNEDDON's REPORT from PAKISTAN
Sneddon, Asia Secretary of the World Mission Council of the C. of S.
was in Pakistan from 11-21 Sept. This is part of his report.
……. Earlier I went to Pandoki
village on the outskirts of Lahore where Bishop Azariah dedicated a
new church building. The informal service contained some of the best
of Punjabi culture – exuberant singing of Psalms, reverence for
elders and guests and wonderful food to mark the occasion. On Sunday
morning I joined the congregation of Central Church and brought greetings
to the congregation as well as the assurance of the Church of Scotland’s
continuing concern and support for the Pakistan Christian community.
On Sunday evening I arrived in Sialkot. This was the excuse for some
of the teachers at St Columba’s to prepare a special meal of rice,
beans, potatoes and sweet rice. I then joined over 200 young girls to
watch some of their peers perform sketches of two parables – The
Parable of the Talents and the Ten Virgins – where the lessons
of using opportunity and preparedness were driven home, along with energetic
bhangra dancing! Catherine Nicol has been retired for ten years but
still runs St Columba’s and told me many of the girls’ life
stories. Many come from disadvantaged backgrounds – orphaned,
poor, broken family – to St Columba’s which gives them a
safe place to grow up, access to education and training and the opportunity
of employment and better life chances.
I then travelled to Peshawar where on Wednesday and Thursday I visited
Tarnab, a village on the outskirts of the city, Charsadda and Risalpur.
Along the roadside there were a number of relief camps as well as piles
of mud that had been cleared from roads that had been underwater. Fields
were covered in mud and many crops, even trees, were flattened. Hundreds
of houses are uninhabitable. In Tarnab families are currently sleeping
in the church hall, itself damaged. Everywhere flood waters have undermined
the foundations and as the buildings settled, the structures cracked.
I saw house after house with collapsed or cracked walls and roofs, broken
floors, ruined furniture and some rooms that had been swept away. As
the ground dries out the houses will settle further causing even more
damage. The damage to these houses is irreparable and they will have
to be demolished and rebuilt. In the Christian community no lives had
been lost and people were extremely resilient and thankful for the assistance
they had received. Government offices and schools have been wrecked
and important records have been lost. Children have lost school books,
ministers’ libraries have been destroyed. In Charsadda I joined
diocesan office bearers to deliver relief goods to Muslim families and
Bishop Humphrey Peters held a press conference with Muslim leaders showing
common cause. Building interfaith relationships and cooperation is important
when tensions are running high but this itself is building on several
years of interfaith work initiated by the diocese following the 11 September
2001 attacks by al-Qaida and the US- and UK-led wars and invasions in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
On Friday 17 I travelled south to Sind and discussed various issues
with Rt Rev Rafique Masih, Bishop of Hyderabad, including how WMC grants
can continue to support diocesan priorities. On Saturday we went to
Mirpurkhas where I saw classrooms, science and computer laboratories
at St John’s High School paid for by WMC grants over the past
two years. The rooms are ready to be painted and equipped. The Principal,
Mrs Najma Caleb, asked that her thanks be conveyed to WMC for this financial
support. Students from the Muslim, Christian and Hindu faith communities
all study at the school. On Sunday morning I joined the congregation
at the refurbished 150-year old St Thomas’ Cathedral for the communion
service and was introduced by Bishop Rafique. We sang Psalm 99 in Punjabi
to the tune of Auld Lang Syne and Rev Naseer John preached on being
Children of God from 1John 3:1-11.
On Sunday afternoon I joined a team from Church World Service and travelled
five hours north to Khairpur. One of CWS’ local partners, Participatory
Village Development Programme, gave a presentation on their work in
the area and the next day we visited some communities that had been
displaced by the floods. Thirty families had been ordered to vacate
the school premises they were occupying in the village of Agra so school
could re-start but their houses had been destroyed. Another village,
Tayyab Sheikh, had been flattened when water two meters high had flooded
their village. Some families were returning and those who were able
had begun to rebuild some kind of shelter. The village had organised
a makeshift school for their children under a tree, though none were
educated enough to lead proper lessons. In Sukkur we saw non-food items
being distributed to 500 families and later visited a community on the
banks of the River Indus where a number of people were grateful for
the cooking utensils, soap and mosquito nets they had been given. These
people were living in wretched conditions and the only help they received
was from a coalition of organisations working under the umbrella of
the Diocese of Hyderabad.
FLOODS in NORTH-WEST PAKISTAN
about the floods in a special edition of C. of S. World
Dear friends, Thank you for continuing
to pray for us in the light of recent events. Another challenge for
Pakistan…. Multan city itself has had more rain than usual, and more
is expected so that affects buildings and roads unused to such treatment.
The hosp is ok but we do have one building with a floor beneath ground
level which easily can get flooded so needs vigilance. Rooves are ok
and have been swept to clear standing water/debris Flooding is occurring
further west , along the River Chenab (not so much as 1992 but still
came without warning which caused more problems altho not so much loss
of life) (the river we sometimes go to for a picnic), further west still
is the Indus, which has collected much more of the rainfall from further
west and north and it is seriously flooded and taking its floodwaters
further south too. North and West they have had flash floods in numerous
valleys causing havoc and loss of life, as you have no doubt seen on
the news. So some of our patients have been affected but the city so
far ok, and further afield things are dire in some areas. Tank Hospital
had some problems with a foot of water in the wards after heavy rain
on the 3rd. This has been cleared meantime. The monsoon season usually
lasts until the first week of Sept or so… so we could have much more
rain in the country yet. If the rain is heavier in the North East rather
than the North West (as now) our closest river will get much worse….
Thank you for your continuing interest in me and mine! Marian Morrison
(Women's Christian Hospital, Multan)
MOURNS AFTER DEADLIEST FIRE
The national flag flew at half-mast and
people of all faiths joined in prayers last Saturday (June 5th 2010)
as Bangladesh mourned the deaths of nearly 120 people in the country's
deadliest blaze. The fire raged for three hours late Thursday, destroying
at least six multi-storey apartment buildings in one of Dhaka's most
densely populated areas. At least 117 people have died in the inferno
but officials feared the toll would rise as dozens of critically injured
patients lay fighting for their lives in Dhaka's overstretched hospitals.
Investigators Saturday took witness accounts as they launched a probe
of the blaze which firefighters said was fuelled by an illegal chemicals
warehouse. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has visited the injured and
announced compensation and free treatment for the victims. Fires caused
by short-circuits, substandard wiring and electrical faults are common
in Bangladesh, where building regulations are rarely enforced. "Dhaka
is growing vertically at a rapid pace as our economy is growing fast.
But many of the buildings are simply death traps," said Jahangir Alam,
a civil engineering professor who led a government study on Dhaka's
quake preparedness. "In 2008, Dhaka had 583,000 buildings. But most
of its high-rises and apartment buildings don't have enough fire protection
measures. They are built ignoring basic construction rules," he said.
(Source:AFP via Church of Scotland 'Update')
of Bishop of Calcutta.
23 members of the Fellowship of St. Thomas
met in Edinburgh on 10th February 2010 to hear Bishop Ashoke Biswas
of Calcutta. He has been bishop since 2008 and was in UK to attend a
consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Several of the persons
present were shortly going to pay a visit to the Calcutta Diocese. The
Calcutta Diocese contains 26 congregations and 5 out stations. There
are 30 priests and also non-stipendiary priests and church workers.
It also contains 14 English medium schools, a Bengali Medical School,
2 colleges - an Engineering College and a Nursing College. There is
also an active Mothers’ Union and Youth Fellowship.
2 homes for elderly persons have been opened and it is hoped to raise
the standard of care in both of them. Social services are run by St.
Paul’s Cathedral and other churches.
The main ethos of the diocese is to show the church as the house of
God open for all, and seeking to show Jesus in the lives of its members.
The diocese has opened a clinic in association with CMC Hospital, Vellore
for providing medical checkups. There is also a TB clinic and a TB Hospital
in Howrah. Hospices are being set up for the treatment of HIV and other
terminal illnesses. The church has a responsibility to continue the
missionary outreach to those outside, who expect a Christian response.
The CNI brings unity but the freedom to act in individual ways with
Anglican, Presbyterian and Congregational emphasis. The church has strong
links with the CSI and the churches in UK. Bishop’s College has
started lay persons’ training.
In Orissa the conflicts arose from old tribal problems about land ownership
which became religious squabbles. Newly educated young people are threatening
the power of the old landlords. As the tribals are enlightened the new
church leaders take over the influence of the BJP. The Communists stopped
English medium in the schools for 25 years but realising their mistake
they are now re-introducing it.
The challenge for the church is to involve the youth in its programmes.
The presbyter is meeting the young people and providing for them. The
Pastorate Committee includes 2 women and 2 young people. The church
seeks to strengthen the Mothers’ Union in order to build up the
home and the young people in the family. Hindus invite Christians to
their festivals and vice versa. The Governor comes to the Easter and
Many people first gain interest in the church after a visit to CMC Hospital,
A centre has been opened for the treatment of HIV/Aids with a separate
home for the children of patients. An annual HIV Sunday is held in the
churches and teaching is given in the schools and the youth groups.
The Bishop is invited to special functions in other denominations.