Posted by: Titus Presler | September 22, 2014

Peshawar marks one year since bombing of All Saints’ Church in 2013

Today is the first anniversary of the attack that killed 128 people and wounded 170 at All Saints’ Church in the old city of Peshawar on 22 September 2013. The suicide bombing was the worst attack experienced by the Christian community in Pakistan since the founding of the country at Partition in 1947.

Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters reports that services have been held in the Diocese of Peshawar beginning at 8:30 in the morning and continuing until 4 in the afternoon as the Christian community reflects on the experience and draws strength through prayer and worship together.  Moderator Bishop Samuel Azariah of the Diocese of Raiwind, recently returned from a visit to the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops meeting in Taiwan, was present, as were the bishops of Lahore and Multan, among others.

Over 4,000 people attended an afternoon liturgy held at Edwardes High School, which was established in 1853 as the first secondary school in the border region with Afghanistan.  “We commemorated the occasion in a grand way,” said Bp. Humphrey.

The major Eucharist was held at All Saints’ Church itself, timed so that Communion would be served around the time that the two bombs exploded, which was at 11:45am on Sunday, Sept. 22 in 2013, and at that time a minute of silence was observed.  The parish’s memorial observances got underway yesterday, as reported and photographed yesterday in Dawn newspaper.

The diocese continues to care for the injured and for those bereaved of their loved ones, especially widows and orphans who lost the sole breadwinners in their families.  Bp. Humphrey is pursuing with the federal government of Pakistan its promise to provide a Rs. 200 million (about US$2 million) endowment for the care of victims.

In another major observance, yesterday the Diocese of Peshawar marked the second anniversary of the burning of St. Paul’s Church in Mardan, about 35 miles northeast of Peshawar, on 21 September 2012. A crowd was processing through that city on the Day of Love for the Prophet (Yaom-i-Ishq-i-Rasool) proclaimed by the government in protest against the anti-Islam film, “The Innocence of Muslims,” when some demonstrators broke into the church compound and burned St. Paul’s.

Since then St. Paul’s has not only been rebuilt but also extended and is now fully in use.  Reconstruction was assisted by a grant from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government.

Korean Christians have pledged to establish a Peace Center at All Saints’ Church.

(Articles about the referenced events of 2012 and 2013 are available on this blog – just type in key words.)

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A Prayer on the Anniversary of the Bombing at All Saints’ Church, Peshawar

In the Name of God who gave birth to the Word,

God the Word made flesh,

and God the Spirit who empowers the Word for life.

 

O God, you are the source of all healing and reconciliation:

 

We call to mind the All Saints’ victims,

who witnessed to their faith with courage

and who died in religious violence.

May they grow from grace to grace in your eternal glory.

 

We lift up before you those who were wounded,

especially those who live daily with pain and disability.

Visit them with your healing power.

 

We pray for all who grieve those who were near and dear to them.

May they know the strength of your daily presence

and the comfort of family and community.

 

Strengthen your Church that it may be a channel of your healing love.

May it speak your prophetic word.

May it share your reconciling power among all the children of Abraham

and on behalf of all who suffer oppression and violence. Amen.

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