Statement on Church Bombings in Indonesia
By Thomas Kemper
We of the United Methodist mission community stand in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters in Indonesia in the wake of the bombing of three churches in and around the city of Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday, May 13. We pray for the families of those killed—the number initially set at 11—and for the speedy recovery of the 40 persons reportedly wounded. We join in outrage with our ecumenical partners worldwide that the Indonesian Christian minority must endure such violence.
The terrorists struck with suicide bombers at Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, Surabaya Pentecostal Church, and the Indonesian Diponegoro Christian Church.
We grieve the loss of lives, the destruction of properties and the erosion of trust that result from such tragic incidents.
This is by no means the first terrorist action against Christians in the large, predominantly Muslim Asian country spread over dozens of islands. Too often we have taken account of harassment and murder of Christians and discrimination against their communities. We know of incidents in the past in which Methodist churches have been forced to discontinue worship in the wake of threatened violence.
We appeal to civil authorities on national, regional and local levels in Indonesia to take steps to protect religious minorities. We join in this appeal with the World Council of Churches, whose protest of the Surabaya bombing said, “In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence.”
We are in touch with Bishop Sabam Lumbantobing of Jakarta, whose annual conference includes East Java and Surabaya, assuring him of our concern and prayers. The bishop asked that we continue to pray for Indonesia. Indonesia has two Methodist conferences based in Java and North Sumatra with a combined membership around 120,000.
Methodism was planted in Indonesia by extension of American Methodist mission work in Singapore in the late 19th century. The current membership is 70 percent Batak and 20 percent Chinese, with the remaining 10 percent composed of persons from other ethnic groups.
Global Ministries has three young adult Global Mission Fellows from Indonesia currently serving respectively in Hong Kong, South Korea and the Philippines. One global missionary from Zimbabwe, a former Global Mission Fellow who served in Indonesia, will return to begin service in Jakarta later this year.
General Board of Global Ministries
The United Methodist Church