10,000 pray for peace in northeastern India
By Matters India Reporter
Diphu: More than 10,000 people from various Christian denominations spent four days in a northeastern Indian town to pray for peace in the region.
“There was a rumor about violence breaking out, so we decided to come together and pray,” said Father Tom Mangattuthazhe, secretary of the United Christian Forum that organized the February 11-14 Bible Festival at Diphu, the headquarters of East Karbi Anglong district in Assam.
As many as 32 churches participated in the “biggest program” local Christians have ever arranged, the Diphu diocesan priest told Matters India February 15. He said all ethnic groups were represented at the festival. “It was also a statement of our ecumenical identity that Christians are one although there are several things that divide us.”
According him the Bible “certainly unites us” and the festival helped people experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
One of the main activities during the festival was expounding the Scriptures. “There was conviction, there were healings,” the UCF secretary claimed.
Young people presented choir from various churches wearing traditional dresses. “It was a statement of our faith that in Jesus we are one and we love our culture, our dress our language and that by being a Christian we continue to worship God as we are,” Father Mangattuthazhe explained.
The choir groups included Diphu Hmar Christian Fellowship, Karbi Anglong Presbyterian Church, Birla and Karbi Anglong United Choir.
Various churches and Christian schools in the area presented choreography based on the Bible. The Believers Church in India presented choreographies depicting different Bible themes on all days of the festival.
Around 200 young people from all Churches worked as volunteers during the festival. The organizers hailed their “utmost dedication and sincerity” in serving others.
The festival’s core team was headed by Prabhakar Teron, a layman.
The UCF is an organization of Christian Churches in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts of Assam. It comprises Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Believers Churches of India and several other denominations.
The Bible festival was held nearly a month after local media alleged that churches were hiring non state actors to create violence in the region.
A UCF submitted a memorandum to the district collector of Karbi Anglong on January 17 dismissed the allegations as false and demanded an impartial probe.
The memorandum signed by UCF chairperson Reverend Athang Sabu and Father Mangattuthazhe regretted that such reports led to conflict in the region and threatened peace and harmony and fundamental rights.
“We request your office to look into our concerns and we affirm our sincere cooperation in maintaining peace in our region,” the memorandum said.