Bogor, West Java (ANTARA) - Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian lauded the completion of a Presbyterian church in Bogor, West Java, as the result of continuous coordination between the authorities and local religious figures to uphold residents' rights of worship.

The church is named GKI Pengadilan -- GKI to denote its affiliation with Indonesia Christian Church (GKI) -- and earlier known as GKI Yasmin, which planned construction was central in the years-long dispute between the church and locals who oppose it.

"I think this can be a lesson for all of us. An issue, including issues on the development of places of worship, can be resolved through good ways without conflict, with good leadership, management, and coordination, as well as capability to embrace all sides to achieve a good resolution," Karnavian stated after officiating GKI Pengadilan here, Sunday.

During the ceremony, which coincides with the Easter Mass, the minister expressed his thankfulness for the church's inauguration signaling the end of the 16-year dispute.

"I express my gratitude to the Almighty God because (the church construction is completed) after a long dispute for at least 16 years, and today, officially, the issue is resolved in a good way," he said.

The dispute became a national and international spotlight and prompted the central government to act to resolve the dispute.

The Christian group began building a church on Jalan Abdullah bin Nuh in the West Java town in 2006 but met opposition from local residents who accused the group of collecting fake signatures of residents to approve the construction.

The government later revoked the permit to build the church to avoid conflict. A protracted legal battle ensued between the congregation and the city government.

In 2012 the city government offered a relocation plan for the church construction. In June 2021, Bogor Mayor Bima Arya granted land to build the church after members of the group agreed with the relocation plan.

Karnavian, who had accompanied GKI Yasmin church members demonstrating for their church during his tenure as Greater Jakarta Police Chief, admitted that deadlocks in the effort to resolve the issue in the past had overwhelmed him.

However, through communication and coordination between the Bogor City authority and the central government, the dispute is finally resolved, and the church can be constructed, he said.

"I salute Minister (Mahfud MD) for his continuous encouragement for the state to be present (for the people). We always remember this," Karnavian said.

The minister added that the regional authority's tireless work to communicate with the central government and the people, as well as its keenness to get down and observe the actual condition in resolving the dispute, must be emulated by others.

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Translator: Linna Susanti, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Sri Haryati
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