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Bible Society Celebrates God´s Word Through Music

Updated: June 25, 2008 10:16 AM GMT
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Choral music rang out of the Dushanbe Youth Theatre as the ecumenical Bible Society of Tajikistan celebrated its second Bible Day. tj_dushanbe.gifCatholic and Orthodox choirs as well as representatives of Protestant denominations performed at the concert on May 24, this year´s designated Bible Day, which organizers hoped would bring Scripture closer to local people. "Music touches people´s hearts much better than any words or other presentation can," Olga Belkevich told UCA News. The Bible Society member explained that the main goal of Bible Day is to introduce the Bible to those who are unfamiliar with it. "Christians know what the Bible is. Most important is to reach out to those people who still do not know the Gospel, and music is the best way to do it," the Baptist woman said. Most of the 150 people who attended the concert were Christians of various Churches and denominations, but some others were present too. Elena, a 20-year-old student who attended the concert with a friend, told UCA News: "I do not identify myself with any religion, but I like the singing of Orthodox and Catholic choirs. Their songs are so solemn that you cannot help but think about religion and heaven." This is what Eugenia Rasanova, a 45-year-old Baptist hoped for, that the concert would help people remember God´s word, which she told UCA News is the most important treasure in life. Her friend Maria likewise remarked, "The beauty of the singers´ voices lets us see the beauty of God and his love for us." The Christian musicians performed classical and religious songs including Orthodox and Catholic hymns. Father Juan Carlos Sack, leader of the choir at St. Joseph Parish, the Catholic parish in Dushanbe, told UCA News they presented songs by Henry Purcell, Engelbert Humperdinck, from his opera Hansel and Gretel, and John Hutchings. In this country where Muslims make up almost 97 percent of the population, the Bible Society of Tajikistan organized its first Bible Day last year. According to Belkevich, the organization does not have any fixed day for celebrating the Bible. "This year we held it on May 24. Next year we will choose some other date. We have to coordinate it with the government´s Committee of Religious Affairs and must put it closer to Easter, because this is a better time to talk about the Bible," she said. "Mostly we work on translating the Bible and other religious literature, like hagiographies about the saints or children´s bibles, into Tajik," she added. "We have people of different religions in our collective. The head of our society is an Orthodox priest." The society, founded in 1994, three years after Tajikistan gained independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union, brings together Catholics, Orthodox Church members and Protestants. Father Sack is in charge of translating Latin for the society. He thinks promotional activities such as Bible Day should continue. "It is good that more and more local people can get to know the Bible through such kind of initiatives. Maybe someone will develop a keen interest in the Bible and want to learn more about it," he said. The Incarnate Word priest from Argentina also sees such events and Bible Society activities in general as beneficial for ecumenism. "We can be together with other Christians. You know the Bible is the basis for unity among Christians of all denominations." According to Father Ezequiel Ayala, the fellow Argentine missioner who heads St. Joseph Parish and who also attended the Bible Day concert, "at such meetings we could talk not only about what we share in common but also about differences which separate us, and that will help us to be one." "I believe in Jesus´ prayer that we will be one," Father Ayala said. END

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