Posted by: Titus Presler | April 6, 2014

Korean Christians resolve to build peace center at All Saints’, Peshawar

In a heartening move for the Diocese of Peshawar and the Christian community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Christians from South Korea have committed to building a peace center at All Saints’ Church, Peshawar, site of the Sept. 22 bomb blasts that killed 128 parishioners and wounded 170 in the worst attack on Christians in the history of Pakistan.

Vision for a center for reconciliation and peace was expressed by Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters in the early days after the bombing. Funds received after the bombing from multiple sources have been devoted to the medical care of the wounded, which continues at a number of hospitals and in homes, and to longterm provision for widows and orphans who have lost the income brought in by wage-earners who were killed in the bombing.

The Korean Christians’ specific concern with the building of a peace center is therefore especially welcome and helpful. The project was reported in the monthly news organ of the Diocese of Peshawar, Frontier News, from which Anglican Communion News Service picked up the story.

The center will be constructed within the All Saints’ Church compound in the heart of the old city of Peshawar, Bp Humphrey tells me, and it will be a catalyst for reconciliation between people of different religions.

There are a number of outstanding features of this project:

• Longterm Reconciliation Work between Communities – Building the Peace Center looks beyond the important work of recovery and rehabilitation of victims to the communal need for reconciliation and peace between religious groupings in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan. This commitment is truly redemptive for the long term.

• Location Where the Need Is – Much inter-religious dialogue today occurs in conference centers and hotels that are relatively far from where religiously motivated discrimination and violence takes place. The Peace Center, by contrast, will be constructed on a site of violence as a memorial to the martyrs killed in that violence, and in the heart of the old city of Peshawar.

• Intra-Asian Sponsorship and Funding – The Peace Center is not being funded primarily by Christians in the Europe or North America, but by Christians in South Korea. South Korean Christianity is now among the world’s stronger Christian communities in numbers, funding and global vision. Their initiative in taking on this project in collaboration with the Diocese of Peshawar is striking and commendable. While the center of gravity in the numbers and vitality of world Christianity has moved to what is commonly termed the Global South – a way of designating the world beyond Europe and North America – funding often continues to be dominated by the North Atlantic societies, but this project confirms a new day.

• Ecumenical Support – Korean sponsorship is from multiple Christian sources, not only from one church, and it appears to include at least Anglicans, an evangelical association, a seminary, and a Korean indigenous church – and probably more groups are participating. This ecumenical collaboration resonates well with the ecumenical foundation of the Church of Pakistan itself, which in 1970 brought together Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians in one united church. The multiplicity of Christian groups, with their members often fiercely loyal only to their own group, has often hindered collaboration. The broad-based support for this project is a good sign.

Blessings on this important initiative in solidarity.

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