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12/22/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – After waiting for 34 years, a parish church in Indonesia’s Jakarta Archdiocese has finally received the IMB (building permit) needed from the government to build a church.

UCA News reports that Jakarta governor Anies Rasyied Baswedan presented the permit to Christ’s Peace Parish in Tambora subdistrict during a groundbreaking ceremony on Dec. 21. The event was also attended by Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta as well as members of the Interfaith Communication Forum and several government officials.

“Unity must be maintained … We hope that people living around this parish will also feel at peace. Parishioners and local people will respect each other. When we talk about unity, we refer to unity which is beyond ceremonial and accidental events,” Baswedan said.

The parish, established by Jesuit Archbishop Leo Sukoto of Jakarta in 1987, has been gathering at a multipurpose hall belonging to a Catholic school foundation due to lack of the IMB. The 2013 protest of a hardline Muslim group, the Islamic Defenders Front, led to the refusal of the church’s IMB.

Sacred Heart Father Hironimus Ronny Dahua from Christ’s Peace Parish said these parishioners had fought for the permit for 34 years.

“We had faced various experiences. But today, God sends you, Mr. Governor, to present and to take part in the groundbreaking ceremony. This is incredible,” he said.

“It moves us. Moreover, the permit is granted just a few days ahead of Christmas Day when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. And you proclaim the Good News prior to that,” he added.

In Muslim-majority Indonesia, it is common for non-Muslims to face obstacles as they seek to obtain IMB from the government. Even if they received the permit, local authorities often cave into hardline groups’ protests and demands, leading to the cancellation of their permits. Yasmin Church in Bogor, Indonesia is one example. It has been 13 years since their IMB was rejected by their mayor. To date, they still cannot complete their church construction.

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