Sarawak is the only Christian-majority region among Malaysia's 13 states
Christians pray during an ecumenical prayer gathering in Sarawak Malaysia on July 22 to mark the states' Independence Day. (Photo: Screengrab of Facebook live broadcast from St. Thomas Anglican Cathedral)
Christians from various denominations joined other faiths for the first ecumenical prayer gathering in Malaysia’s Christian-majority Sarawak state for peace, equality and religious freedom in the region.
About 1,200 people, mostly Christians as well as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Bahais attended the gathering at the Christian Ecumenical Worship Center in Jalan Stampin on July 22, on the occasion of Sarawak Day, Borneo Post reported.
The Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS), an ecumenical forum covering the state, organized the event.
The day is celebrated as Independence Day in Sarawak to mark the end of its status as a British crown colony and its joining the Malaysian Federation in 1963.
A Malaysian regional Christian council in Sarawak held its first ecumenical prayer meeting on Sarawak Day to foster peace, equality, and religious freedom in the region.
The Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) organized the prayer event on July 22 at the Christian Ecumenical Worship Centre in Jalan Stampin with the theme “You shall be a blessing (Genesis 12:2)” reported Borneo Post Online.
"Our state of Sarawak has been blessed with tremendous growth and development"
Archbishop Simon Poh of Kuching Archdiocese led the opening prayer with a particular focus on peace, harmony, and respect in Sarawak, so everyone is entitled to equal rights to develop one’s talent and potential, as well as the freedom to practice one’s belief.
“For the past 59 years of our independence, our state of Sarawak has been blessed with tremendous growth and development,” Archbishop Poh said.
During his sermon, Reverend Danald Jute of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei shared the Biblical example of Abraham from whom the great nation of Israel emerged.
“The verse Genesis 12:2 reads ‘I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing’ said the Lord to Abram,” the prelate shared his message quoting the Bible.
“God clearly did not bless Abraham for his sake, but so that Abraham would become a blessing to all the families of the earth,” he added.
Dignitaries from various churches and the government attended the celebration.
Muslims make up the majority or more than 60 percent of Malaysia’s estimated 32 million people. Buddhists are the largest minority with 20 percent, Christians are 10 percent and about 6.3 percent are Hindus, according to 2018 government estimates.
About two-thirds of Malaysia’s Christians reside in two of the country’s 13 states, Sabah and Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, where they make up one-third of the population.
Sarawak is the largest state in terms of area where Christians make up the majority with 1.2 million (50.1%) in a population of 2.4 million. Muslims make up 800,000 (34.2%) and Buddhists account for about 300,000 (12.8%).
Protestants, mostly Anglicans, are the majority among Christian denominations. The Catholic Church has also a sizable following with more than 441,300 members spread in the Archdiocese of Kuching and Miri and Sibu dioceses.
Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia that holds state elections separately from federal elections. Under the Malaysian constitution, Sarawak enjoys a higher degree of autonomy than other states.
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