Titus Presler reports from Pakistan
Rev. Dr. Titus Presler, Principal of Edwardes College in Peshawar, Pakistan, sent the following report yesterday after the horrendous slaughter of people attending All Saints’ Church there. We at CGCM grieve for those killed and with those injured.
After church bombing Edwardes closes for 3 days and empathy abounds
In both grief and protest, the churches of Pakistan have declared three days of mourning and solidarity for the victims of today’s bomb blast at All Saints’ Church, Kohati Gate, Peshawar, in which it is reported that at least 150 people were killed and at least 200 were injured, many of them critically.
To its great credit, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province of which Peshawar is the capital, promptly endorsed that move and declared three days of mourning in solidarity with the Christian community and stated that what it called “missionary institutions” would be closed for the three days. To its equal credit, the Federal Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan soon followed suit.
The bombing’s impact on Edwardes College itself is considerable. We’re not sure how many of our students were killed at the church, but there are at least several. A number of alums were killed. Victims also included students and teachers at Edwardes College School, a feeder institution located on our campus. More information will be forthcoming over the next day or so.
Following is the letter that I sent out to all faculty and staff:
Dear Edwardes Community,
We are all shocked and grieving in the aftermath of the bombing at All Saints? Church, Kohati Gate, on this Sunday, Sept 22. The scale of the atrocity is terrible. News is still coming in, but it is said that about 150 people or more were killed and 200 or more were injured. The news has gone around the world.
Information is emerging, but a number of our current students were killed as were a number of Edwardes College alumni. The same is true of Edwardes College School and, of course, other church institutions throughout the city.
The churches of Pakistan have declared that all church institutions throughout the nation will be closed for three days of mourning for the dead and in solidarity with the bereaved and with the Christian community. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government has endorsed this closure.
Members of the Management Team have discussed the matter and are agreed on the College’s participation in this closure. Therefore as an institution of the Church of Pakistan, Edwardes College will be closed Monday-Wednesday, Sept 23-25. The present plan is to reopen on Thursday, Sept 26.
Let us join in reaching out to those who are mourning their lost loved ones.
May we all know the blessing of God in this troubled time.
Followers of events in Pakistan will feel today’s attack on one religious minority resonating with other attacks on other minorities in Pakistan, most notably the attacks in January and February on Shia Muslims in Quetta, in Balochistan, in which about 200 people were killed. Unfortunately attacks on religious minorities are on the rise.
Being stateside at the moment, I first heard of today’s event in a text from a Muslim faculty member this morning: “Very sad news a blast in Kohati Gate church Peshawar. 30 casualties. May God put their souls in peace.” Missing the church reference, I responded: “Terrible. Tnks for letting me know. God bless the victims.”
My interlocutor responded: “Amen. I’m too very sad for my Christian brothers and sisters. It was a cruel incident. May God help us. Amen.” To which I replied: “Do you mean that Christians were the targets?” “I’m not sure,” he answered at that early hour. Now we know they most definitely were.
I was touched by his concern for the Christian community.
As I was by the following email from another faculty member:
It’s really matter of shame for all of us, what happened today at Church at Kohati Gate Peshawar.
Islam is peaceful religion, and in Islam there is no place for such people who create violence with anyone, regardless of their religion, at any cost. Personally all my sympathies are with those who suffered today. May Allah bless their souls and may they rest in heaven. At this crucial time we all are with the Christian community side by side, so please do not think you are alone.
Oh Allah forgive us. As we are not following the right path, forgive us.
Such ecumenical spirit is crucial in any place and time, but especially so in Peshawar and in Pakistan today. So I thank God for such compassion and generosity of spirit between people of different religions.