Church committee refuses to stop construction, upsetting Sumatra residents
08/08/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On August 2, residents of North Sumatra’s capital, Medan, reported ongoing work at the site of a church after agreements were reached to postpone construction.
In June last year, local residents, members of Tabernacle Pentecostal Church of Christ (GPT), the building committee and the Medan City Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB) met to discuss the establishment of a church In the region. Local residents protested the construction of the worship building due to its location and proximity to residents’ homes. Additionally, it was pointed out that the church cannot continue construction since the congregation does not have a building permit (IMB). A final decision on this issue was postponed, which further delayed and prevented work on the church.
Since that meeting, work on the church has continued. Recently, locals witnessed construction workers at the church site digging channels for sewers and septic tanks. During the confrontation, the workers said they were level the groundnot the construction of the church.
As more and more residents came to protest against the construction, the local police chief, police commissioner Faidir Chan, together with the village chief and sub-district representatives demanded a complete halt to the construction. construction. To resolve this conflict, a meeting was advised for August 6 between the building committee, local civilians and the church.
Opposition to the construction of churches reportedly started in November 2020 when residents met with FKUB sub-district chief and Medan Amplas. The main purpose of this meeting was to discuss concerns related to church building in the area. Since the meeting, members of the local community have sent letters to the FKUB and the Mayor of Medan asking for the construction of the church to be halted.
Li Purnama, a local resident, said the community does not prohibit the establishment of churches, but there must be due process and general approval from the local community.
In Muslim-majority Indonesia, such conflicts are not uncommon, thanks to regulations that discriminate against religious minorities in obtaining the IMB. Although it is almost easy for Muslims to build a mosque, it is very difficult for Christians to obtain the necessary documents for the IMB application. Even with the IMB granted to them, it is rare that they can build their place of worship without protests from the local community.
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