Mosque and church are helpful neighbours

helpful neighbours

In Jakarta, a modern 9000 square metre mosque and a colonial-era Christian church sit across the road from each other.

Despite their different faiths, the two houses of worship are friendly, helpful neighbours — and an example of pluralism in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation at a time of heightened fears over religious intolerance.

“We respect each other,” said Nur Alam, an imam at the Sunda Kelapa Grand Mosque which opened in 1971. “If we never offend other people, then we will be respected.”

Across the street, Adriaan Pitoy is a pastor at St. Paul’s Church which was built in 1936 under the Dutch colonial administration.

Known locally as the Gereja Protestan di Indonesian Bagian Barat “Paulus”, Jakarta (St. Paul’s Protestant Church in West Indonesia, Jakarta) or in short GPIB Jakarta, it is a Reformed church.

“Our relationship is just one of many steps we take,” he said of the neighbours at the mosque. “We also go to other mosques to promote dialogue. Our relationship with our friends next door is normal.”

For the two houses of worship, normal means sharing parking spaces during busier services: Friday Prayer for the mosque, Sunday service for the church.

They also host interfaith dialogue sessions and even volleyball tournaments.

During Ramadan, the Muslim holy fasting month, the staff at St. Paul’s, some of whom are Muslim, carry boxes of food to the mosque for worshipers there to break their fast.


News category: Asia Pacific.

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