Community gathers to remember Christian victims in Sri Lanka

The unity among Bartholomew County’s multi-faith community was revealed by the Rev. Clem Davis on Sunday, who talked about how he heard about the terrorist bombing of Christians, a religious minority, at Easter Sunday services in Sri Lanka last week.

The pastor of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church said he received an email from Zukifly Yusuf of the Islamic Society of Columbus Indiana expressing heartfelt sorrow at the death of 253 people and more than 500 injured at various Christian churches, many of them Catholic.

Yusuf and Davis formed a friendship among a Christian-Muslim dialogue panel several years ago, after Muslim-oriented graffiti was found spray-painted on three local churches, including St. Bartholomew’s.

Davis mentioned all this in his remarks among the comments of other faith leaders and Mayor Jim Lienhoop at a memorial service at North Christian Church in Columbus for the victims in Sri Lanka. Easter lilies, a sign of new life at Easter, still graced the sanctuary from the previous weekend.

“The only answer to this tragedy is for more and more people to find and nurture friendships beyond their own, immediate circle,” Davis said, who acknowledged that he grew up “in a bubble ” — a homogeneous neighborhood near Chicago.

About 150 people — Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Unitarians — gathered at the service to silently light candles for the victims (some as young as eight and 11 months old), to offer words of comfort and unity and to more firmly resolve than ever before that local people of faith will stand united not just to tolerate one another’s differences, but to show love amid common ground and friendship.

For more on this story, see Monday’s Republic.