A Church Reopens after 18 Years of Building Permit Struggle

02/26/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – A church in Indonesia’s central Java is finally able to gather again at its church, after nearly two decades of building permit (IMB) challenges.

According to Times Indonesia, the Provincial Government of Central Java, the Regional Government of Jepara Regency and the Forum for Religious Harmony (FKUB) have successfully resolved cases related to the establishment of the Evangelical Church in Java Land ( ITJ Church ) in Dermolo Village, Kembang District, Jepara Regency, Central Java.

This settlement ended 18 years of tensions between the church and the surrounding community with the issuance of a letter from the Regent of Jepara. The January 27, 2021 letter stated that the IMB Number: 648/150 (issued March 9, 2002) concerning the building permit for a house of worship in Dermolo Village RT 02 / VI is still valid.

The Regent’s letter revokes the two previous letters from the Jepara Regency Government dated June 2002 and another letter dated December 2013 regarding the Temporary Cessation of Use of the Dermolo Church. This revocation was carried out because the 2002 letter could not overwrite the 2006 Joint Decree of the Minister of Religion and the Minister of Home Affairs on building houses of worship.

“Due to the decision of the Jepara Regent, on Sunday, February 7, 2021, the ITJ Church congregation can carry out their services peacefully in the church,” said Deputy V of the Presidential Staff Office, Jaleswari Pramodhawardani in a written statement to TIMES Indonesia on February 9.

According to him, the presence of the state in ensuring the security of citizens, including guaranteeing the protection of people’s rights to freedom of religion and belief is President Joko Widodo’s priority agenda.

The reopening of worship activities at the ITJ Church is a manifestation of Jakarta’s commitment to guaranteeing religious freedom rights and strengthening tolerance between religious communities. It is also the result of the collaboration of all government stakeholders from central to regional with various community groups and interfaith leaders.

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