GUJRANWALA: An inter-denominational peace seminar gathers all the Churches in Pakistan at one platform.
This peace seminar was aimed to create an environment of mutual cooperation and unity among the Churches in Pakistan. This seminar was held at the Presbyterian Church in Gujranwala and hosted by Arif M.Siraj-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Pakistan. Pastors from various Churches attended this seminar and expressed unity with each other. In excess of 80 participants from all around the country were present at this occasion.
Professor Dr. Arthur James said,” It is encouraging thing to keep making efforts to maintain unity among the churches”. He said that,” St. Peter got the apostles together in Jerusalem to discuss important matters for the early Christians and that was the sign of their unity and came up with the common decision for the future of the Church. Their gatherings at Jerusalem and Antioch are example for us for Church unity. The World Council of Churches has taken the initiative for Church unity and is working in collaboration with the Vatican. The Ecumenism and evangelical efforts in a united way will bring more fruit.” He expressed his delight at the arrival of the Ecumenical Unity Committee’s (EUC) in Gujranwala thus promoting unity among officials of Churches.
Fr. Francis Nadeem- Coordinator of EUC and parish priest of St. Joseph Church Lahore, OFM Cap said that “We are determined to bridge the gap among the denominations and provide occasions to come together at different forums to show our unity in a visible manner. The representatives of four official Churches; Salvation Army, Church of Pakistan ,Presbyterian Church in Pakistan and the Catholic Church have spent a day visiting different institutions in the Christian Technical Training Centre compound. We appreciate the work done for the progress of the country in different fields of life. He expected that the institutions will continue making their utmost efforts for promotion of peace and tolerance through their talents.”
The divisional commander of Salvation Army Major Salamat Masih said that,”It was his first time to enter the compound of CTTC and first time to come to the Church for this peace seminar.” Whilst thanking Arif M.Siraj, he prayed that “May we be blessed to remain united for the glory of God”.
Rev. Emmanuel Khokhar Vicar General of Church of Pakistan Diocese of Raiwind said,” We are going through an era of terrorism which is shameful for our country. In this situation unity among denominations for peace has not only to be through words but shown in a practical way and toady we have expressed this by our gathering here. Love is greater than fear all around us. Our identity and presence in Pakistan is very important.”
Parish Priest of St. Joseph Church, Gujranwala, Fr. Philip John said,” In the recent Francisabad tragedy all the denominations and especially Presbyterian Church was with us and we experienced a good and effective cooperation. No doubt we get together in the time of crisis but it is important to meet in the peaceful times as well. Our gathering for peace seminar will have positive effects for unity among Churches.”
Shahid Miraj- Church of Pakistan Diocese of Lahore, Dean of Lahore Cathedral said,” St. Thomas the Apostle of Jesus Christ brought the message of peace in the first century to our land and we have the spiritual pride to be very Pakistani. The message of peace, love and forgiveness taught by him has to go on not only in the difficult times but in the peaceful times as well.”
Rev. Sharif Alam of the Presbyterian Church said, ”Since we are family of disunity in the country, therefore the teaching peace has to be included in the syllabus in the education system. By this the hatred and intolerance among religions will be diminished and we will be able to have peace which is initiated by Jesus Christ; the Prince of Peace.”
Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary Fr. Inayat Bernard said, “The EUC was established in October 2012 and since then have conduced Ecumenical Christmas Carol 2012, Unity Octave programs in 2013 and 2nd Alleluia Conference all in Lahore. It was the first time for EUC to come out of Lahore and extend this unity and peace process in the other cities of Punjab may this unity will extend to the whole country.”
Arif M.Siraj Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Pakistan in his speech at the end of the seminar expressed his gratefulness to the Ecumenical Unity Committee and the all the participants of the peace seminar. He said, ”Despite the heavy rain the seminar has been successful and the message of peace will go around and have a good effect.”
Other particpants who spoke at this seminar include, Fr. Benjamin Joseph, Jahanzeb Iqbal, Shakeel Luqa, Rev. IB Rocky and Saleem Khokhar.