Officials remove seal from church in East Jakarta
Three months after the Gereja Kristen Indonesia Palsigunung church had been forced to close, local officials removed the seal from the gate on 26 June.
The congregation of the GKI Palsigunung church had to move to a new area due to flooding in March. Once they found a suitable location, they had to obtain a required number of signatures from local residents. This is a mandatory requirement to establish a place of worship in the community. They also applied for the essential permits. Despite of meeting all the legal requisites, the head of the Citizens Association and the local neighbourhood leader refused to sign the application and the church was forcibly sealed.
Authorities had claimed that the congregation’s legal permits did not meet the requirements and were incomplete. They also insisted that the church building was going to be used as offices and not a place of worship.
After reopening the church, one of the leaders reassured believers that allowances will be made to grant worship in the building whilst the final paperwork is being processed. Local Christians are praying that adjustments to the application will be completed soon. They are hopeful that the church will not be forced to close again and they can use it as a place of worship without any further obstacles.
In some regions of Indonesia, Christians face difficulties getting permission to build churches. Authorities set strict permit requirements and the strenuous process can take years to finish. Even if the congregation fulfils all legal requirements, officials still often ignore them. They can also ban religious gatherings in local homes.
Churches that engage in evangelistic outreach are at risk of being targeted by Islamic extremist groups. There are certain hotspots, such as West Java or Aceh, where extremist groups are strong and exert a strong influence on society and politics.