World Communion of Reformed Churches
12 June 2012
Reformed church leaders in Nigeria are asking for prayers in the wake of attacks on Christian congregations in the central and north-eastern regions of the country.
“We ask for prayers and encouragement,” says Peter Aya, General Secretary of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC).
Aya made the request in a message received yesterday by the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) at its offices in Geneva, Switzerland. A second request for prayers arrived from the United Church of Christ in Nigeria (HEKAN) late in the day.
The HEKAN and ERCC churches, with congregations in the troubled region, are the most affected of the six Nigerian WCRC member churches.
The calls for prayers follow attacks on congregations in the Nigerian cities of Jos and Biu on Sunday that, according to some reports, left at least 10 people dead and many more wounded.
In responding to the appeals, WCRC’s general secretary, Setri Nyomi, says he is outraged at the way sects like Boko Haram use religion to destroy communities and cause senseless loss of life.
“Our sympathies go to the families who have lost loved ones,” says Nyomi. “We appreciate what our churches are doing to reach out to peace-loving Muslims to build harmonious communities in Nigeria. We call on all our member churches to pray for peace in the country and for wisdom in building communities for peace in these trying times.”
HEKAN’s president, Emmanuel Dziggau, says the church is seeking peaceful solutions to the problems.
“The advice I give members is to pray – not to react,” Dziggau writes in a cell phone text message sent following a peace meeting in the area.
ERCC is planning a day of prayer on Sunday, 17 June for victims of the violence. Parishes throughout the country will engage in prayer and fasting as well as raising funds for those who have lost property or belongings.
In a related initiative, the church has established a peace committee to go to the Assakio region in central Nigeria where clashes between Muslims and Christians on 1 and 2 June caused extensive property damage.
The committee was set up following a visit by church leaders to the area where Christian homes were burned and belongings looted.
“No church was burned,” Aya says. “But church property was stolen. People were really frightened and are seeking for peace.”
He adds advice from WCRC member churches on how to organize peace and reconciliation or interfaith initiative forums would be welcome.