The Rev. Canon Titus Presler, principal of Edwardes College, writes about Sunday’s bombing at All Saints’ Church, Peshewar, Pakistan:
“This is a catastrophe for the Christian community of Pakistan,” my secretary Ashbel Taj said to me a few minutes ago. He had just returned from visiting the wounded at Lady Reading Hospital after today’s bombing at All Saints’ Church in the heart of the old city of Peshawar.
… Among the dead are students and alums of Edwardes College, the number yet to be determined. I am told that William Ghulam, who translated for me when I preached at All Saints’, was killed, as were a daughter and son of his. William was head of a high school in Peshawar and an Edwardian.
… I’ve preached at All Saints’ a number of times and have always found it to be an inspiration: a packed sanctuary; latecomers coming to the front to offer their devotions individually before squeezing into a place somewhere; robust Urdu singing; the strong leadership of Pastor Ejaz Gill.
Every Sunday’s liturgy is followed by a sharing of rice pulau — chawal — in the church yard after the service. Today, it seems, the huge pot of hot rice was brought in not through the usual side gate but in a Suzuki vehicle through the main gate. What I have heard is that the two suicide bombers came in at the same time dressed in police uniforms. Then began the mayhem.
An irony is that the 1883 church was designed by CMS missionary Worthington Jukes in the architecture of a mosque and thus as an affirmation of Muslim style in worship space. And now it is specially targeted.
In another post, Canon Presler writes that Edwardes College will join the nation in three days of mourning:
In both grief and protest, the churches of Pakistan have declared three days of mourning and solidarity for the victims of today’s bomb blast at All Saints’ Church, Kohati Gate, Peshawar, in which it is reported that at least 150 people were killed and at least 200 were injured, many of them critically.
To its great credit, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province of which Peshawar is the capital, promptly endorsed that move and declared three days of mourning in solidarity with the Christian community and stated that what it called “missionary institutions” would be closed for the three days. To its equal credit, the Federal Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan soon followed suit.
Image of Edwardes College is from the college’s website