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International Peacemaker to focus on religious pluralism while visiting the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Scholar skilled in interreligious dialogue to share her thoughts and expertise

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Angie Wuysang

LOUISVILLE — Overcoming conflicts that arise between people of different faiths in Indonesia will be discussed by an International Peacemaker who plans to travel to the United States later this year to shed light on issues affecting her country.

“I want to share stories about religious pluralism in Indonesia, the challenges of conflict and the potential to explore the value of peace,” said the Rev. Angie Wuysang, a lecturer for the Indonesian Christian University of Tomohon (UKIT). “Hopefully, the congregation(s) in the United States can reflect on my experiences, both as (a) pastor and religious scholar (who’s) been spreading the message of peace between religious communities.”

Each year, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program welcomes peacemakers from around the globe to share their stories with mid councils, churches, educational institutions and others. The peacemakers will address issues of justice and peace that are affecting their countries and inspire those who meet them during visits that will take place between Sept. 15 and Oct. 9.

Wuysang is an ordained minister of GMIM (Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa), the Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa. She also is a researcher and teaches on eco-theology and environmental ethics, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and theology of religions.

One concern that Wuysang will be raising is the exclusion and persecution of religious minorities, such as Christians and people who practice indigenous religions, in her country

“Certain majority groups are willing to use violence,” she said, “and it’s legitimized by the false virtue of the need to save others from infidelity.”

However, a “recent increase in the promotion of religious moderation in Indonesia reflects an expanding trend in counterterrorism policies in the country,” she said. “These policies are a response to the fact that the spread of radicalization is facilitated by (a) socio-political-legal context effectively cultivated by militant and extremist groups.”

Wuysang is part of the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies, which has been conducting research in various regions in Indonesia and often invites the government and policymakers to discuss the topics of upholding religious freedom and protecting minorities, she said.

During her visit to the U.S., Wuysang looks forward to sharing a story about a situation that involved her own church and that allowed her to use her skills in communication and negotiation to resolve a conflict.

“While serving as pastor in the Manado congregation during 2016 to 2019, our church faced a bit of (a) ‘clash’ with the neighboring [Muslim] community,” she said. “The issue was that our [Muslim] neighbors were not happy with the presence of a minority Christian family in their neighborhood (in front of the mosque) as Christian worship is considered as disturbing.”

Tapping into her educational background in interreligious dialogue, Wuysang “ventured to visit the Imam of the mosque and the chairman of Majelis Ulama Indonesia (Indonesian Council of Ulama) of North Sulawesi Province, despite the strict prohibition by the priests in my church,” she said. “Thankfully, my visit was accepted, and we could discuss … how to build peace and harmony between our church and their mosque. Since then, the Christians and the [Muslims] can carry out their respective worship without feeling threatened or disturbed.”

Go here to learn more about this year’s peacemakers and how to become a host.

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