From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Indonesia: The LWF fosters unity among all human beings

Date 13 Apr 2000 12:54:15

JAKARTA, Indonesia/GENEVA, 13 April 2000 (lwi) - The Lutheran World
Federation (LWF) general secretary, Dr. Ishmael Noko, has expressed hope
that the Indonesian government will continue in its efforts to create a
political and social climate which allows the minority groups in that
country to live in peace and dignity.

In a meeting with officials of Indonesia's religious affairs ministry,
Noko talked about the activities of the LWF in countries with a Muslim
majority, and emphasized that the focus in such a context is to foster a
relationship between religious communities and overall assist such
nations to work toward unity among all human beings. He added that the
LWF supports all efforts to strengthen the unity of Christians and good

Responding to Noko's remarks, Indonesia's Assistant Minister for
Religious Affairs Dr. Johan Effendy said the new government under
President Abdurrahman Wahid has adopted a strategy for change which
includes encouraging and facilitating dialogue between local leaders.
"Dialogue between religious leaders has now been developed in order to
promote mutual understanding among the religious communities," Effendy

The minister said education especially for youth, includes awareness
building about good neighborliness and tolerance among people of diverse
faiths. He said the new government?in office since October 1999?is
committed to defend the rights of Christians. He added that the
country's leadership will pursue the idea of promoting the concept of a
civil society the rights of which are guaranteed by a government that is
open to all religious communities and is clearly opposed to all forms of
religious fundamentalism.

The general secretary was heading an LWF team visit to Indonesia from
1-11 March 2000, of which the purpose was to foster supportive
relationships among LWF member churches in Indonesia and gain an
understanding of the root causes of the Christian Muslim tension and
human rights violations that have been going on in the country.
Accompanying Dr. Noko was the LWF director for finance and
administration, Mr. Friedrich Manske and the Department for Mission and
Development (DMD) area secretary for Asia, Rev. Ginda Harahap.

Indonesia's former military strongman for more than 30 years, General
Soeharto resigned in 1998 amid pro-democracy protests in the capital
Jakarta, religious and ethnic violence in other provinces and the
referendum on independence in East Timor. Wahid, who took over the
leadership last October, is the nation's first democratically elected
president in decades, succeeding Soeharto's former vice-president, B. J.

(The LWF is a global communion of 128 member churches in 70 countries
representing 59 5 million of the world's 63.1 million Lutherans. Its
highest decision-making body is the Assembly, held every six or seven
years. Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by a 49-member Council,
which meets annually, and by its Executive Committee. The LWF
secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)

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Lutheran World Information
Assistant Editor, English: Pauline Mumia

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