5th alleluia conference encourages the main line churches to move forward
03 May 2017
Lahore: May 3, 2017. (Fr. Inayat Bernard) It is encouraging that the mainline churches are praying together and conducting unity programs thrice a year. It is not enough but we have to move forward. Bishop Samuel Robert Azariah; the moderator Bishop of the Church of Pakistan diocese of Riawind was talking to some 200 inter-denominational faithful gathered at St. John’s Church, Kot Lakhpat Lahore. It was organized by Ecumenical Solidarity Committee Lahore (ESCL) and Council for inter-faith dialogue.
Bishop Azariah continued that our unity is becoming visible now but we have to take a second step to pave the way to participate in the Eucharist which is our belief that it is the body and blood of Christ. Although we meet in the time of crisis but it is the real challenge and Eucharist will further unite us according to the wish of Lord Jesus Christ depicted in the 17th chapter of the Gospel of St. John. It will take time but we have to make a start to talk about it and make other religious leaders likeminded for full participation in the Holy Eucharist.
He said that the leaders of the churches should meet together for a day to reflect on the one church for unity in possible ways. He informed that four denominations joined 46 years ago and are closely working as the Church of Pakistan. He said that informally they are going to have negotiations with the unity with the Presbyterian Church as well. It might not come soon but we are going to make an effort in this regard.
The main speaker of the 5th Alleluia conference was the professor at the Gujranwala Theological Seminary Padri Dr. Maqsood Kamal said that the Resurrection is the gift for the suffering church. Roman Empire killed thousands of the faithful who were witnesses of the Risen Lord and preached about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. John the Apostle was thrown into the boiling water after being exiled in the island of Pitmos. He saw many visions about the persecution of the Christians but hope was given that Jesus Christ has overcome all these problems.
Jesus Christ he continued has conquered death and is well aware of the gravity of death. He told his disciples not to fear because he has destroyed death and rose from the dead. He says *I AM. *He is the master of whole universe and is the universal savior. He says I was dead and am alive now. That very promise is the life giving message for watch human being. Jesus Christ wished peace after resurrection and this peace was for all peace loving human beings.
In response to the talk of Bishop Azariah, Rev. Amjad Niamat; the moderator of Lahore presbytery recalled that during the special Silver Jubilee mass of Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in December 2016 he received the Holy Communion from him. He said that we have reached to this point to participate in the mass and have no problem of faith difference.
Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap thanked the organizers, choirs and the faithful. He said that it was his 2nd time when earlier years Rev. Emmanuel Khokhar was the parish priest here and now again he is appointed as the parish priest of St. Johnâs Church belonging the Church of Pakistan diocese of Raiwind. As the coordinator of the Ecumenical Solidarity Committee Lahore (ESCL). He said in the light of the Bishopâs talk they will soon invite the pastors of mainline denominations to come together to discuss the possibilities of further cooperation in different religious fields.
Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap made a special mention of the recent visit of Holy Father Pope Francis to Egypt where he prayed for the terrorists who killed dozens of Coptic Christians in Cario. He said that the martyrs are the witness to the Risen Lord. He said not to fear but have full trust in the Lord.
Fr. Inayat Bernard said in the beginning that the representatives of four mainline churches. i.e. Salvation Army, Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, Church of Pakistan diocese of Lahore and diocese of Raiwind met in October 2012 to plan the unity Octave in January, Alleluia conference in March/April and Ecumenical Christmas Carol on 14th December every year. We have faithfully carried out these programs. We wish for further and deeper religious relationships to be united in faith and be witness to the Risen Lord.
The participating choirs were St. John Church (host), St. Francis Catholic Church and St. Esther Memorial Church. The prayers were said by Major Salamat Masih and Major Slaeem Yusaf along with Rev. Saleem Khokhar, Samuel Barkat and B.M.Aslam.