Several members of a church congregation in Jambi city burst into tears on Thursday upon seeing their house of worship sealed by Public Order Agency personnel.
“We have been worshiping here for 18 years. Suddenly [the church] is closed. We are shocked,” Sinaga, one of the leaders of the Kanaan Methodist church on Jl. Lingkar Barat Tiga in Kota Baru district, told reporters.
Sinaga said the church leaders had applied for a permit from the city administration for years but had never been granted one.
He said up until now there had been no conflict with followers of other religions around the location of the church, and congregation members were often involved in communal activities.
Jambi National Unity and Politics Office head Liphan Pasaribu said the sealing had been conducted because of local residents’ rejection of churches without permits.
“Based on negotiations between the administration and residents, it was agreed to seal the church,” Pasaribu said, without divulging details on the parties involved.
The administration had reportedly planned to seal three churches in the area but postponed the move on two of them amid opposition from their congregation members.
Before the sealing of the Methodist church, a letter widely circulated in Jambi stated that some 1,000 residents would gather at a nearby mosque to demonstrate against the three churches. (jun)