Church forum held to support development goals

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PNG’s seven mainline churches, the government, the private sector and civil society held their biannual Church Partnership Program (CPP) Forum in Goroka, Eastern Highlands, to promote gutpela sindaun both as a model and pre-condition to supporting PNG’s development agenda.

Held from 29 to the 30 October, the two-day forum, hosted by the Salvation Army and supported by the PNG-Australia partnership, examined ways in which Church-State collaboration could be strengthened and improved under the theme of ‘Enhancing Partnerships, Crafting the Way Forward’.

Since independence, churches have been at the forefront of PNG’s development by delivering essential services to the rural majority – roughly 85 per cent of the population.

In recognition of their outreach and influence, CPP was established in 2004 as part of the PNG-Australia partnership.

Now in its third phase, CPP continues to provide life changing opportunities to the most vulnerable that would have otherwise missed out.  It is estimated that 45 per cent of the nation’s health service and almost 51 per cent of the nation’s schools are provided by churches. 

The gutpela sindaun model has also seen churches contribute to ending tribal fighting through peace building initiatives. A recent gun exchange ceremony in Enga Province led by the Salvation Army saw guns exchanged for bibles, symbolising a new commitment to community harmony.

Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Andrew Egan officially opened the forum and acknowledged the success of the CPP in PNG.

“Today we acknowledge the unique work that churches are undertaking across Papua New Guinea to impart and uphold important values that can keep the social fabric of a community strong and resilient.

Through your valued activities, a young girl gets an education, communities receive urgent medical treatment and a person with a disability can access support,”said Mr Egan.

During the forum, the Salvation Army Restorative Justice Program was presented as a model, not only for ministering to remote communities, but in brokering practical peace accords between warring tribes and broken communities.

Feature Pic: (L-R) Territorial Commander of the Salvation Army PNG and Solomon Islands Colonel Kelvin Alley, Australian High Commission First Secretary Governance Amanda Young, Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Andrew Egan, Governor of Eastern Highlands Province Honourable Peter Numu, Mrs Rosheila Dagina-Numu and Catholic Bishops Conference PNG and Solomon Islands President Bishop Rochus Tatamai.

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