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Anglican bishops in Sri Lanka advise clergy to “prudently discern” whether to hold services

Posted on: April 26, 2019 6:28 PM
Anglican Bishops in Sri Lanka, Dhiloraj Canagasabey of Colombo (left) and Keerthisiri Fernando of Kurunegala, have written to clergy following the Easter Sunday terror attacks
Photo Credit: Church of Ceylon

The bishops of the Anglican Church of Ceylon have written to clergy, wardens and lay leadership urging them to “prayerfully discern whether it is prudent to hold the worship” on Sunday. Their advice comes following last week’s terror attacks in which around 235 people were killed when bombs detonated at Churches and hotels as Christians in the country celebrated Easter.

Local church officials “will need to make an assessment of their ground situation before they make a final decision”, the Bishop of Colombo, Dhiloraj Canagasabey, and the Bishop of Kurunegala, Keerthisiri Fernando, said in their letter. “That is because the dynamics and ground situations differ from one community to another or one area to another area.”

They continue: “If you feel it is not prudent to hold worship in your churches in the prevailing circumstances then please refrain from having any gathering that may not be advisable until there is an improvement in the current situation in the country.

“On the other hand you must not lose sight of the fact that the intention of the forces of darkness and these perpetrators is to stop us worshipping our God and to cripple everyday life by driving fear into people. During the 30 years civil War our worshipping communities were only prevented from meeting for worship only due to curfews.

“Further if you are unable to meet as a congregation on a Sunday please look at other creative means to ensure that the worship and the sacramental aspects of the faithful are not disrupted.”

In the UK, members of the Muslim community in North Wales will gather outside Bangor Cathedral on Sunday as the congregation gather for their 11 am BST (10 am GMT) service in a show of solidarity with Christians in Sri Lanka. Ayad Mawla, from the Bangor Islamic Centre, wrote to the Dean of Bangor, condemning the “abhorrent events” and asking for permission to make a symbolic gesture of solidarity against terrorist attacks on religious buildings.

“We are all conscious that there are forces which seek to set people against each other and to create a climate of fear and suspicion”, the Bishop of Bangor, Andy John, said. “This gracious gesture by our Muslim friends shows we can overcome hatred and violence and I’m delighted the Cathedral in Bangor will host this meeting of solidarity.

“It builds on the excellent relationships we have established together between Cathedral and the Islamic community.”