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SANDAKAN – The Diocese of Sandakan hosted the 8th Sabah-Heilbronn Ecumenical Partnership (SHEP) Day Sept 12 with a get-together at the Diocesan Conference Hall.
Representatives from the five partners viz., the Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Catholic Diocese of Keningau, Catholic Diocese of Sandakan, Sabah Basel Council of Churches Malaysia (BCCM) and the Protestant Churches of Sabah (PCS) were present to commemorate the auspicious event. The local partners are linked through ecumenical connect with that of the Catholic and Lutheran Churches in Heilbronn, Germany, thus the concept of SHEP was derived.
Among the 50 who attended the event were pastors and guests from the RC, BCCM and PCS coming from as far as Kudat and Keningau.
Gracing the occasion, Bishop Julius Gitom addressed those present, and commended the commitment of the local organizing committee headed by Raymond Wong.
“We are blessed by the Lord and we share this blessing by continuing to strengthen and deepen the friendship among partners, for this friendship is founded by the Lord himself and not by mere human strength,” affirmed the prelate.
In her welcoming speech, Chairperson of SHEP, Christine Kinsik thanked the Diocese of Sandakan for hosting the 8th SHEP Partnership Day for 2015. The hosting of the Partnership Day is rotated among the member Churches.
She explained that SHEP is a committee formed with the objective of promoting partnership among the member churches in Sabah. It is also responsible in handling matters related to ecumenical biennial exchange visits of participating Churches to Sabah and Heilbronn.
The partnership will share information pertaining to the churches in Heilbronn and Sabah, while at the same time promoting awareness and better understanding of Christian unity through the sharing of resources and enhancing mission and theological education for both countries. She also acknowledged Bishop Julius’ contribution to the partnership, where he was one of those responsible in the earlier stage of the partnership formation.
The program continued with a slide presentation showing pictures of the exchange visits of participants of SHEP in Germany and in Sabah. This was followed by sharing from the representatives of BCCM, PCS and RC Churches who have visited Germany recently under the partnership program.
Pastor Timothy Lo of BCCM gave a reflection on the subject of ‘salt and light of the world’, “As Christians, we are to be shining example in the community at large. For the good work we do, that people may give glory to the Father in heaven.”
The SHEP Partnership Day concluded with an intercessory prayer led by the pastors from BCCM and RC, followed by a luncheon fellowship at the foyer of the Conference Hall. – DOSPO, Dalius